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A Trip to The Centre for Social Innovation

One Saturday morning in February, a gentleman by the name of Matthew Cohen came into the Furnish Green showroom. A designer from Toronto and founder of the Matthew Cohen Design Collective, Cohen has spent the past two years working on a very special project: designing the New York branch of the Centre for Social Innovation. To make his vision a reality, Cohen aimed to use existing materials and repurposed items. Furnish Green became one of his sources, and he purchased a varied assortment of pieces from us. From industrial shelving units to a ceramic stallion’s head, all of these pieces would come together in one unique space.

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The Centre for Social Innovation was founded 10 years ago in Toronto, with a simple yet revolutionary philosophy. It’s a place where independent small businesses can share space and resources, and work alongside each other to build relationships. All companies working through CSI are involved in social enterprises. About two years ago, CSI started planning for a new branch in New York City. One of the first steps was finding someone to design the new space. Cohen was working in Toronto at the time, designing venues for various non-profits. CSI took notice of him and his work, and soon he was brought on to oversee the design of the new CSI branch in New york. Since then, Cohen has been working tirelessly to turn the New York CSI into what it is today.

CSI has three locations in Toronto, and the New York branch is the newest addition. Since its opening in May 2013, the New York CSI has grown to accommodate over 180 organizations. CSI also rents spaces to outside companies for various events.

A few weeks ago, Cohen was kind enough to give us a tour of the new site in Chelsea. Tucked in an imposing converted warehouse building, the new CSI is a bustling space with an urban aesthetic. Everything inside was made with existing materials, and built by local craftsmen and contractors. It’s a lively, inviting place, with a strong sense of community.

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A number of Furnish Green accent pieces, from vintage globes to geometric sculptures, were used to decorate the charming lounge area, one of the first things you see upon entering CSI. This eclectic look was consistent throughout.

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Some old tool drawers from Furnish Green help to keep them organized and maintain the colorful yet industrial style.

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Young professionals take advantage of all that CSI has to offer. Companies can rent offices for the long term, while many individuals use the “Hot Desk” system: pay for an allotment of hours, and come to work at any desk that’s open.

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Lighting is clearly an important design aspect of the new CSI where individuals are developing all sorts of “bright” ideas. These fixtures were particularly striking.

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This coat rack wall was made with repurposed materials from an old nunnery.

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All cabinets and shelves in the shared kitchen area were taken from a run-down mill.

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These are just a few of the many repurposed design elements at CSI. Some of the rooms are decorated with vintage wallpaper from Second Hand Rose. There are large work tables made with old freight elevator doors from Carnegie Metal. Desks made from felled trees were provided by NY City Slab, and some other wood surfaces were built by Brooklyn Woods. Through its design, CSI has strongly supported local businesses and artisans.

The goal of the Centre for Social Innovation is to revolutionize the way we do business; to be more conscientious of each other and the world we live in, and to make resources available to everyone. After seeing all that goes on at CSI, it’s safe to say that they will have a very positive impact on the world as they continue to grow. To learn more about the Centre for Social Innovation, visit nyc.socialinnovation.org.

Furnish Green on Refinery 29!

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Furnish Green has been featured as a place to go to make your home look more like a Wes Anderson movie! The sets of Wes Anderson movies are always fun and visually stimulating so we are honored that set decorator, Kris Moran, thought of us for the article.

Check out the article in its entirety on Refinery 29!

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