Creating space to create

What makes social spaces work for creative people?  Nick Jones, chief executive and founder of Soho House private members’ club, offers a guide to creative environments

4 min read

If you are looking for creative solutions, you need to build spaces where creative people want to hang out, build stuff, drink, eat and have fun. Listening to the creative community allows you to build a place that they will call home. Here are my five top tips:

1. People make parties

What makes a great party? Good food, good music and most importantly, interesting people. The great parties I have been to are full of intelligent conversations with creative people, obviously over a few drinks. Any successful social space needs to be like a great party and attract creative people into it. When like-minded people come together to talk, eat and drink, amazing things can happen. It also becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy, with other creatives wanting to be a part of an atmosphere that is open, honest and fun.

Creative spaces need zones that provide for people when and how they want

2. Bring culture into the building

Successful social spaces are microcosms of the cities in which they exist and we try to reflect this in our clubs. Our art collections are always made up of pieces from local artists who have been inspired by the city the House [club] is in. It always starts with the building and we create a space that celebrates its history or the design period it was created in. In Miami, for example, there are pre-war Cuban-inspired tiles in the bar area. In Berlin, we stripped the building back to its post-industrial skeleton, which reflects the skyline of the city. Creative spaces need to stimulate and cutting-edge culture needs to be part of its DNA. We do this by putting on events for our members, by our members. It could be a creative business master class from an established entrepreneur, a Q&A with a film director or a live performance by a local band. The building becomes woven into the culture of the city and helps to nurture its creative soul.

The Library Shoreditch House, London

The Library Shoreditch House, London

3. Creative spaces have to be multi-functional

In today’s multi-media, always-on society, spaces need to be multi-functional allowing users to experience them on their terms. Creative spaces need zones that provide for people when and how they want: a place to work, a place to meet, a place to learn and a place to relax. Furthermore, the space needs to evolve as the people of that city evolve, allowing it to stay relevant and important. We have a row of ping pong tables in Shoreditch House that by day are packed work spaces with young creative people sat around them working together. At night they have a few drinks and play ping pong into the small hours. Those spaces work for people 18 hours a day.

4. A home from home

Being comfortable allows you to think and having everything at your fingertips means you can concentrate on what is important. Comfy sofas to kick back and work or quiet tables hidden in a corner combined with relaxed, but efficient service, with food served throughout the day and night are key to this. A gym or swimming pool on hand to break up the day and a bar open until late where you can always find space to socialise, so it is designed to be used like a home. 

5. Creativity has gone global

Creative networks are global, so the spaces they spend time in need to be global too. It is a hugely exciting time for the world’s creative community; it is growing at an exponential rate and, from listening to our members, we are seeing it expanding into new places around the world. For example, Soho House Istanbul came about because members were doing more and more projects there and wanted a base, so we decided to launch a club at the end of next year.

As culture becomes more and more recognised as a catalyst for social and economic development, its community will grow and these communities will want to come together no matter where in the world they are. We hope we can continue to be a small part of that journey.

Reception in the Soho House, Berlin

Reception in the Soho House, Berlin

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