A/D/O, MINI’s Brooklyn design lab, will close permanently


A/D/O, MINI’s Brooklyn design lab, will close permanently

Outside of A/D/O after it warehouse-to-co-working-space conversion in 2016. (Courtesy Frank Oudeman)

Less than four years after the nARCHITECTS-designed co-working space, fabrication lab, and startup incubator A/D/O opened its doors in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, they’ve announced that the space will shut down come May 31, 2020.

A/D/O was developed by MINI to serve as an accessible co-working space, home for the URBAN-X startup accelerator, and community amenity space. The 23,000-square-foot former warehouse at 29 Norman Avenue also hosted a public cafe, exhibition spaces, a design store, indoor and outdoor “hangout” spaces, and the newly opened Rule of Thirds restaurant, which will continue operating in the building independently.

The decision to close came about, as one could probably guess, as a result of uncertainty caused by the novel coronavirus pandemic. MINI has chosen to pull its funding for the design incubator, but URBAN-X will live on digitally (as it did for its seventh demo day last week) until social distancing guidelines have been relaxed and the program can find a new brick-and-mortar home. The funding from MINI was supposed to have allowed A/D/O to present experimental work from top talent while subsidizing local and innovative creators, and MINI has stated that the space was always intended as a long-term project, but that dream looks like it’s now over.

“A/D/O was launched by MINI to empower the design community to explore creative solutions to improve urban life and it has always been a communal effort,” said Nate Pinsley, managing director of A/D/O, in a press release today. “We are profoundly grateful to our Greenpoint neighbors, the international creative community and our Brooklyn-based team and partners who made this unusual endeavor into something truly unique. Although we’ve made the difficult decision to close our doors, we’re confident the idea which has permeated everything we’ve done – the belief that good design can change the world – will continue to inspire everyone who has been a part of our journey.”

A woman with her head
Engineer Nassia Inglessis, who lives and works between Athens and London, stands inside her installation. (Luke Walker for A/D/O)

Since opening at the beginning of 2017, A/D/O played host to 39 different exhibitions that drew work from over 300 designers from around the world and hosted over 400 public programs. The topics were eclectic, and programming ran the gamut from the future of work (pre-coronavirus speculation), to lectures on engineering the Ganges River, to a capsule collection of “cute” design objects.

A/D/O will now slowly wind down operations before shutting its doors at the end of next month. While tragic, the closure is just one more in a long line of educational institutions, art museums, galleries, and design mainstays who have had their operations severely disrupted by a global pandemic that’s made in-person public interaction taboo.