CRANE PUTS THE CONSCIOUS INTO CO-WORKING

Their new outlet opening on Arab Street will soon be joined by another in Joo Chiat.

I have to admit, I was not familiar with Crane before I visited their opening at Arab Street, though the name feels vaguely familiar. So when I went online to their website, I was thoroughly impressed by the offerings there.

Established as a mindful, community-based co-working business, Crane churns out activities much like those from other mainstream brands such as WeWork and JustCo. Except the spin here happily celebrates the alternative.

There are podcasts with shamans and medicine men, revolving gong journeys and paper pleating and ikebana classes for one. Then there’s fashion swaps, music improvs and support groups on the other. While “conscious living” can sound like pure marketing fluff, I’m getting the sense that these folks really live up to their ethos.

The Arab Street space is smaller than the existing main outlet at Robertson Quay but that doesn’t mean it’s small by any measure. The first level houses their new Asian farm-to-table restaurant The Cantina, which focuses on local produce and minimal waste. Across one entire wall can be found all sorts of homewares from Crane’s retail arm – Crane Living.

Walk up the stairs at the back and you’ll come to the members area on the second floor. A table tennis set-up dominates the main space, and the spokesperson told us that it’s the perfect communal working table by day and reverts to its true purpose after 6pm.

What I loved most about this level was how inviting it felt – most of all the refurbished theatre chairs that I had to pull away from after testing out how plush they felt. The decorative glass panels atop the long windows is also a quintessential shophouse feature everyone will like.

The top level is a cosy attic. The reclining chairs and bean bags pair themselves with a projector for cosy presentations and small group meetings that benefit from intimacy.

I enjoyed the diverse offerings within one single shophouse unit, and was equally surprised at the affordable membership. One need only pay SGD99 a month for full membership rights to one location, or SGD129 for access to all locations.

Needless to say, I was keen.

Heading downstairs for the preview lunch, I was delighted to find that Shweta Subramaniam (of Bollywood Veggies) painted her meal with all the points she presented. Honey sourced from a local shop, a dessert made of rose and pistachios to reflect the Middle-Eastern heritage of the area, seafood from a local fishery – it made the experience that much more enjoyable.

The standouts for me were undeniably the bold Red Curry Prawn Conchiglie, robust with flavours of rendang and spice, and the Cantina Signature Board. I played around with the many possible combination, but found the cut with cheese, pickle, honey and mustard a mesmerising morsel.

While prices are a little on the higher side for a casual dining affair, I feel the flavour experience and thoughtful menu warrants the occasional visit.

Otherwise, Crane’s co-working invitation and activities feels like the perfect kind of antidote to Singapore’s unstoppable pace.

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