It’s now more common than not that, while walking through workplace projects, we hear phrases such as ‘Virgin Upper Class Lounge’, ‘Boutique hotel’ or ‘Soho House’ used in relation to the look and feel of those collaborative, interactive, multipurpose spaces oft referred to as third space.
We jumped at the chance, therefore, to take a look at Soho House’s own interpretation of the workplace. After all, the rise of the Soho House network and its agile, creative members has coincided with ‘The Office is Dead’ headlines. Or is it a coincidence? Do people need a desk? Do they need dedicated working spaces at all? This is the ‘work anywhere, anytime’ generation. Surely, all they need is a smartphone, laptop and a Soho House membership! Or maybe it’s not quite so cut and dried – Soho House & Co certainly doesn’t believe it is.
Founded in London in 1995 as a private members’ club for people in the creative industries, Soho House & Co has gone on to establish clubs across Europe and North America, as well as restaurants, cinemas, spas and bedrooms.
The group opened its first House in London’s Soho in 1995 and now has 15 clubs around the world, with more in the works. The Houses are in diverse locations – from Chicago and New York to Istanbul and Berlin – although the mission has always been the same: to create a comfortable home from home for its members.
“A lot of really successful businesses have been started at our houses across the world.”
Now, however, the group has developed a new string to its oh-so-cool bow. Soho House has launched SOHO WORKS Shoreditch – the first of an international network of 24/7 workspaces designed for the creative industries. Located in East London’s iconic Tea Building, SOHO WORKS Shoreditch is a 24/7 workspace for individuals and businesses in the creative industries.
SOHO WORKS launched at the end of 2015 and is open to both Soho House members and non-members. The concept has been created for individuals and businesses that want a dedicated workspace but with the Soho House design ethos, functionality, service and attention to detail so many strive for.
‘SOHO WORK Director Tanya Nathan notes: ‘We’ve seen a lot of members launch businesses from their laptops, sitting in the clubs, and we love this. It is undeniable that more people are lap-topping and working in a more mobile way. Members are more than welcome to keep doing that from the clubs, for some people that’s all they need, but we’ve noticed that there is a demand for something more – a space that gives them the tools that they really need to do their work. That’s where the idea for SOHO WORKS came from. The space is open 24 hours a day, we’ve staff on-site overnight. There is no 9-to-5 anymore and we are seeing members that work all hours.’
The 16,000 sq ft layout hosts 23 ‘Private Studies’, each of which accommodates one to 10 people, together with multiple banks of shared desks and a variety of ‘Sitting Room’ spaces for touchdown working.
We ask why the Tea Building was chosen for this first SOHO WORKS site? ‘The space became available in the Tea Building and because it has a physical connection to Shoreditch House we were fortunate to get first refusal. It seemed like a great place to launch and test run our first SOHO WORKS – with the safety net of big brother next door. Saying that, all future sites are stand-alone buildings separate from the clubs. We have plans to open in Istanbul, LA and New York this year, and a flagship site in Clerkenwell the year after that.’
SOHO WORKS offers five different types of membership. These include Sitting Room; a monthly hot desk membership, Shared Desk; a monthly guaranteed desk with lockable storage, and Study; a monthly secure space for between one and 10 people. Further options include Night Owl; a monthly night-time hot desk membership, and Day Lark, a day-time hot desk membership (for Soho House members only).
“The workplace is a constantly changing, ever-evolving thing.”
Members share the space with other like-minded businesses, providing a creative support network around them. The facilities here include the on-site all-day café and bar, members’ kitchen (with all you need to make your own food), bookable meeting rooms, phone booths for private calls, breakout spaces, a studio space, a library and reading room, a roof terrace, showers and lockers and a workshop (complete with crafts, tools and a 3D printer). There is also access to the neighbouring Shoreditch House for existing members.
The SOHO WORKS space has been designed by Soho House & Co’s lauded in-house design team, and offers a mixture of vintage and contemporary furnishings. We find 19th century Victorian dining room tables and brass mid-century chandeliers sitting beside bespoke Humanscale ergonomic furniture, providing a carefully curated yet fully functional working environment.
Stylish sit/stand Float desks with new black tabletops (for the first time ever!) are suited with Freedom task chairs (Remix fabric by Kvadrat has been used in blues and purples uniquely for SOHO WORKS) and Element Disc task lights for a complete ergonomic working solution throughout the open plan spaces and Private Studies.
Aside from Humanscale’s fine range of state-of-the-art products, the Private Studies are pretty much plug-and-play blank canvases. We’re particularly taken with the scrolling brown paper that provides a simple yet functional alternative to a whiteboard or flipchart and blends perfectly with the overall look and feel here. Very Shoreditch!
The workplace is a constantly changing, ever-evolving thing – and, despite recent reports of its demise, is in fact cooler than ever. It must be if these guys are getting involved!