Collaborative or co-working spaces provide a supportive environment where self-employed individuals can gather with other professionals and have access to the amenities of a commercial office setting. They have been a part of tech culture for some years now, but have not really caught on as yet with the A&D community.

That may change with the launch of a new collaborative design studio for designers and architects, hosted by a Chicago design-build firm.

Opening soon, the Xced Design Studio is the vision of Gary Dayan, founder and project manager of Xced (pronounced "exceed") Design Build, and the firm’s partner and interior designer, Chelsey Jackel. The idea grew out of their own experience collaborating with builders, architects and designers on the firm’s projects. "We’re all enjoying the collaboration of high standards and like-minded professionals," says Dayan.

Having been an interior design firm of one for many years, Jackel wanted to give independent professionals a place where they could interact and socialize with their peers, bounce ideas off others, make contacts, and have access to resources to further their projects. "We wanted to create a fun space that supports people doing good work," she says.

Design centers and showrooms provide some opportunity for sole practitioners to engage with their peers, but are not really conducive to collaboration. Dayan and Jackel wanted to offer a more welcoming, intimate place where more extensive work could be done.

"I’ve spent a lot of hours in coffee shops doing design work and scouting out my next client," says Jackel. "I liked being my own boss. But there were times when I felt a little less support, a little less comfort going it alone. I thought, what would a bigger, better world for people like me look like?"

The open design studio offers solo architects and designers the best of both worlds. They retain their independence but have access to a community of peers with whom they can collaborate or partner on an ad hoc basis.

They also have access to the design build firm’s construction crew and project managers through Xced’s Learning Center. The idea is to enhance the “power of one” by taking it to the next level through a collective support system and the nurturing of strategic partnerships.

Dayan and Jackel have been testing out the concept for the past year with around eight or nine "power partners," as they call the independents using the space, to get a feel for how the collaborations might work and the level of interest in such a studio before going public. So far, the response from the local community has been very positive.

"There are bound to be some hiccups and bumps along the way," says Jackel. “That’s just part of the growth process.” She encourages those who may be hesitant to work around other peers or give others access to their designs to "risk it forward" and see what they have to gain as well.

"It was hard for me at first transitioning from having my own business to being part of a firm. I had to learn to accept some discomfort at first in order to evolve, grow and reach a new level of comfort."

"It’s essential that partners are comfortable and feel at home working in the studio," says Jackel. "We’ve taken an authentic approach, one based on mutual respect, empowerment and a sincere commitment to helping each other succeed and grow. We’ve also put procedures in place to protect each individual’s work and intellectual property."

It’s Jackel’s and Dayan’s hope that this is just the first of many other collaborative studios to develop in the future. The multifunctional space also will be used to host client presentations, serve as a gathering place for peers, and keep professionals current on industry trends through CEUs and networking events.

Xced will be holding a grand opening for the collaborative design studio, located on Chicago’s Logan Circle, on Oct. 11, from 4:00 to 8:00 p.m. Those interested in attending can get more information and register at the firm’s Eventbrite invitation page.

"Come and meet us," encourages Jackel. "Celebrate with us, and see what we’re all about." You may be among the first to get a glimpse of what the future of design business looks like.