When it comes to warehouse spaces in San Francisco, I usually think of three things: huge rooms storing a plethora of weird things, my fifth-grade fantasy of becoming a sexy steelworker who Flashdances in her loft, and parties with coffee tables covered in psychedelic drugs and people covered in fun fur.
Then there is Engine Works, a two-year-old, collaboratively run arts warehouse in the Mission. It’s my favorite space in the city outside of my own renegade venue, Workshop. The first time I went to Engine Works, I realized it wasn’t your typical Burner crash pad. The repurposed-materials design theme, beautiful craftsmanship, and artistic curation of the rooms quickly makes you forget that cracky Capp Street is just outside the door. As someone who pretty much eats, sleeps, and breathes DIY culture, I have a huge creative crush on the folks who’ve brought Engine Works to life.
Each of the eight people involved in the space built something special for it, and the creative ideas on display are impressive. The walls put to use Building REsources’ massive stash of recycled wood. The bar surface displays nails trapped in resin. Almost everyone there is handy with both sewing machines and power tools. It doesn’t hurt that they usually have plenty of Tecates on hand when I’m around, and that I watched garage-rocker Ty Segall mesmerize a crowd with his performance in their basement last year.
Engine Works is the brainchild of Sean Fizdale, Christy Kreibom, Matt Waldbillig, and Michael Flynn (who has since left). The name is a holdover from an earlier business that occupied the space. The founders built the place out using mostly recycled materials grabbed from sidewalks, construction sites, and salvage yards. Over the past year, they’ve expanded with hearty additions that involved two stories, 10 studio spaces, and building into the warehouse next door. The space is now a perfect marriage of interior design and functionality. Individual studios are housed behind secret doorways, and roll-up garage doors allow for easy BBQing — or just lugging in the freshest carload of wood.
The warehouse transforms with the artistic visions of each additional tenant, and the space captures San Francisco’s DIY spirit at its finest. The communal vibe extends beyond Engine Works, too. The proprietors have teamed up for events with other peeps they dig, folks from Shotwell, The Vacation Pop-Up Shop, 826 Valencia, As If (the Clueless -inspired play performed in Engine Works’ basement), and Workshop’s own heavy metal aerobics party (oh, and they all dressed the part for that one).
I don’t think the warehouse will ever be finished, and I look forward to seeing how Engine Works continues to evolve. It’s an inspiration point for new ideas in design, events, and art, and it keeps me coming back to see what this crew will be working on next.
Do It YourselfTo get in touch with Engine Works, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
This story originally ran in The Bold Italic's Vol. 2: What's Next? magazine, which is available for purchase as a single issue or with a subscription here.