On one hand you’re all saying commit and if you’re going to do it, do it properly – and on the other hand you want flexible space, which is pulling in the other direction. How do you resolve this?
Gavin: In our view general amenity space is about what the brand stands for. What we’re trying to get to is what do we stand for as a brand and then whatever amenity we offer resonates with what we are. It’s about having a point of view, which is riskier in many ways but people will see that and gravitate towards that. It’s a different way of approaching it rather than colour by number and everyone doing the same thing.
Helen: I agree, the brand has to define the fabric of the building.
Gavin: You constantly have to interrogate – what are your values, and what’s your permission to chase the latest trend, and I think in the next five years it will be very much “here’s the marketing report, here’s the key turn solution agency and here’s what you get” and that’s why everything kind of looks the same but – it’s a process.
What makes a space fantastic from the point of view of generating a sense of community – a shared community or shared purpose?
Gavin: If it’s built with integrity and it’s well designed and not chasing the latest trend. I’m sure that everyone uses them as a reference, but in Soho House there’s multiple entry points – you can be a 25 year old graphic designer and enjoy Soho House, and you can be a 60 year old exec, because it’s done with simplicity, heart and soul. Also it’s not about the design or the brand, it’s about the culture. So, in a lot of my presentations, I’ll say to clients: your culture is your brand. You can walk into an environment and you can understand the brand by what’s happening around you.
How do you ensure, through the way you manage, build, and design one of these buildings, that it is a sustainable asset that it can both physically engineered and meet changing trends?
Gavin: Yes, absolutely the quality department is your core product, apartment and customer service offer. Working with great procurement companies and good designers who are not trying to chase with the latest trend, but just build with authenticity. That works and people see that straightaway. Helen: I think service is absolutely paramount. A few people have moved to us because they weren’t getting the service that it was purported to be offering. It’s things like that that really really make a difference – people will stay there if they put down roots, have friendship groups and have good service.