We can't all own prized Manhattan real estate. But thanks to Splacer, an event-space sharing service that launched in Tel Aviv, Israel, in the fall of 2014 and rolled out in New York this past summer, we can pretend we do—for a few hours, at least. Among the latest additions to the thriving (if at times contentious) sharing economy, Splacer is a project of Israel-based architects Adi Biran and Lihi Gerstner. The online tool contains more than 200 residential and commercial spaces in New York and roughly 100 in Tel Aviv—and it’s growing. The duo, which raised $1.4 million in a seed funding round led by Israeli investment firm Carmel Ventures this summer, plan to bring the tool to San Francisco next.
“A space is usually designated for one program—we have living spaces, working spaces, entertainment spaces … worship spaces,” Biran says. “We would like to suggest a different way of looking at space. Space can be one thing during the day and another thing at night. Or one thing during the week and another thing during weekends. … It’s a solution that can take place in many large cities, where people [already] find themselves sharing spaces.”
The pair, who studied together as undergraduates at the Pratt Institute's School of Architecture, in New York, and again at Columbia University's Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation, say Splacer came out of the convergence of a few trends: the market dominance of sharing services like Airbnb and Uber, the shift toward the design of versatile and multi-use spaces, and the ballooning value of real estate in major markets. What makes Splacer different from other space-sharing services (think Airbnb and co-working spaces like WeWork and Breather) is that the listings are curated with an eye to architecture and Splacer doesn't own the properties.
The website's name, Splacer, is a portmanteau that gets at its primary objective: “A space can be a blank canvas and once you put the activity in it, it becomes a place of an event—a place of a party, a place of a meeting, a place of a photo shoot," Biran says.
Biran and Gerstner work with a small staff across New York and Tel Aviv to curate spaces submitted to the website. They also collaborate with local developers and brokers to find new spaces worthy of a spot on their list. So far, the service is used primarily for corporate meetings, pop-up events, parties, and photo shoots. Splacer listings include private homes and offices as well as art galleries, factories, garages, backyards, distilleries, and even churches. Through its website Splacer also connects users with local service providers such as caterers, decorators, musicians, artists, and photographers to round out the event. “In a way, it’s not only a two-way marketplace, it’s a three-way one,” Gerstner says.
“When we started we needed to actively search for spaces and today, people with amazing spaces are approaching us,” Biran says. “It’s become easier and faster. One thing that was surprising for us was to see how many people are interested in taking part in this community and providing access and it’s not always about earning money. Many times it’s because they believe in this or they want to expose their space or they like the synergy of people using their space.”