In The House

Published February 15, 2012

Has anyone noticed that in the past two years, the London-based Soho House—with its new locations in Miami Beach, Berlin, and Los Angeles, and its revamped New York satellite—has once again become the chic boutique of choice? We have a feeling it might have something to do with the art it places on the walls. Since launching in 1995, the design-conscious chainlet of private clubs has been a favorite home-away-from-home for nomadic creative types. Six of the nine international outposts have on display a chunk of the company’s 600-piece contemporary-art collection, to which new works are constantly added. “Art makes a room so much more special and more atmospheric,” says Nick Jones, the 49-year-old founder and chief executive. Acquisitions are selected by British painter Jonathan Yeo and by curator-writer Francesca Gavin, who focus on artists with a connection to each locale. “In New York we wanted a very New York feeling about it, so it’s mostly local artists,” says Jones, whose roster at the Meatpacking District location includes Lawrence Weiner, Agathe Snow, KAWS, and Jenny Holzer. “In Miami it’s a bit more international. Berlin is artists from Berlin. London, from London.” Every commissioned piece comes directly from the artist, who exchanges it for a membership to the club. “What’s great is that the artists, if they’re not members already, become members, which makes the clubs more interesting places,” says Jones. It’s certainly fun to imagine John Baldessari, Olaf Breuning, Glenn Ligon, Tacita Dean, and Rashid Johnson congregating in the rooftop bar of the West Hollywood house.

The collection will continue to expand as Soho House does. Jones anticipates a future with “more houses in more cities to give our members more homes to go to when they find themselves on the road.” But can the brand maintain its air of exclusivity as it goes global? “Everyone says, ‘Oh, you’re getting a bit bigger, so everything is going to go downhill,’” says Jones, who counters that assumption by alluding to a recent pruning of the membership list of the New York club. “It went slightly off course—there were too many corporate people in there. And now it’s got a really lovely creative feel about it again.” Nick, can we come over to your place?