Launched in Moscow in 2011, the Ziferblat project offers a communal space for students, creatives and freelancers to work and meet and is slowly spreading its way around the UK. Literally translating from Russian as "clock face", guests pay per minute for the time that they spend inside; with tea, coffee, cakes and snacks laid out for them to help themselves, for free.
A cosy, communal alternative to hot-desking and a challenge to the laptop coffee-shop culture, after visiting the Manchester Edge St branch, we spoke to Ben Davies, head of UK marketing, about the ethos of the company and who is finding it useful:
'' We are a pay per minute share city centre sitting room where people can come to meet, work, relax or play. All of the refreshments are free but guests are also welcome to bring their own food. We have lots of board games, a piano, a craft box, magazines, daily papers and other things to keep people entertained. We also run events as well as having private rooms to hire at the same pay per minute rate.
Cafes are not always fit for purpose, but where else can you meet someone in the city centre. We try to make a relaxed environment where guests quite literally feel at home. There’s no pressure or structure as to how to use the space so guests are welcome to do as they please. We find this is conducive to the kind of environment that helps creatives/professionals with their projects and meetings.
“Everything is free inside except the time you spend there.”
We try and keep it as broad as possible but we get a lot of guests who live, work or hang around the city centre. We do see a lot of creatives, freelancers, professionals and students but also a lot of families as well.
By far the best thing about Ziferblat as a workplace is the atmosphere. It’s incredibly mellow and friendly; there is has a real domestic feel. Very few places will you find that guests will go and sit or engage with each other so freely. We are currently based in Liverpool, Manchester and London and hope to open lots more branches; we want a Ziferblat in every urban area in the UK and Ireland.
We will keep our independent vibe as we want each branch to reflect its environment. We want each branch to feel like the sitting room for that specific area, created by those who use it. ''
Images: Siobhan Corbett + Ziferblat
Find out more about Ziferblat here