LOGAN SQUARE — Too many of the city's co-working spaces turn into frat parties with happy hour kegs and foosball breaks.
At least that's what Mary Nisi and her husband, John Pirnat, contend.
In an effort to buck the so-called trend, the Logan Square couple is gearing up to open a co-working space in Pitchfork Media's former offices at 3317 W. Fullerton Ave. that's cozy, calm and embodies the company tagline: "We're all adults here."
"A lot of co-working spaces have a 'bro-y' atmosphere. It can be distracting and fratty," Nisi said. "Our whole idea is to make this the 'anti-bro' co-working space."
The co-working space, called Ampersand, will debut to the public in a couple of weeks.
The couple is hoping to attract people who work from home, entrepreneurs and companies that need extra room — all on a monthly membership basis. The No. 1 rule? "Don't be a d---," Nisi said.
"Don't be loud. Don't eat other people's food. Don't do anything you wouldn't want done to yourself," she said.
The businesses will offer "hot desks" for people who are willing to sit anywhere ($195 per month); "dedicated desks" for regular members ($395 per month); and conference rooms and private offices (starting at about $1,000 per month). Day passes cost $35. Halfwit Coffee Roasters will supply the coffee.
In regards to its decor, Ampersand has a funky yet midcentury modern vibe: Blue bench seating in the front area and colorful local art contrasts with the clean white desks and Herman Miller chairs in the conference rooms.
Arguably the distinctive feature, though, is its massive 2,000-square-foot rooftop patio, where members can work and collaborate. The couple plans to host neighborhood events and community meetings up there once they secure the proper city permits.
The front area of Ampersand also will function as a gallery, featuring the work of a different local artist every two or three months. First up is neighborhood favorite Mac Blackout, the artist responsible for murals at Ground Control and Bucket O' Blood.
Mac Blackout's exhibit, "Rise of the Geometric Giants," will feature 29 new drawings and paintings — made with pen and ink, acrylic paint and mixed media. The pieces cost anywhere from $100 to $1,000, depending on size.
"Much of Mac Blackout's work deals with human presence as it relates to our environment and is anthropomorphic in nature. Human characteristics are merged with the geometric forms of our dwellings and technological design creating a cosmic caricaturelike portrayal of human existence," the artist statement reads.
"This themes can be seen in this new collection as well as the other recent pieces exhibited in this show."
The artist said many of the designs in the exhibit, running through Sept. 22, will be used in future murals around town.
Bringing local art into the business was important to the creative couple, who founded the DJ company Toast & Jam.
Nisi said she and her husband want to bring the neighborhood together — whether that be through professional collaborations, viewing local art or participating in community meetings.
"We've been living in Logan Square for seven years. Buying this building, we secured our roots in the neighborhood. We're really excited to invest in the community," she said.