Apartment 58 opened its doors in London's Soho during London Fashion Week in February 2012 as a new global concept with accessible work and socialising spaces for the creative industries. The inaugural apartment is located at 58 Poland Street (the address that provides the name to the concept) and another venue is expected to open soon in London's Notting Hill neighbourhood. Fashionable Shoreditch is the next stop with all three London apartments expected to be in full swing by the end of the year. In addition to the London locations, plans are already underway to open three apartments in each major fashion capital (namely Milan, Paris, New York, Berlin, and Mumbai) by 2015.
The idea is simple: Apartment 58 is intended to provide intimate spaces with understated design and personal access available for members who can use the space to work, hold meetings and events, or simply socialise with some friends over a cocktail. The brainchild of Alan Grant, founder of Notting Hill Arts Club and Cherry Jam, Apartment 58 will have a strong focus on technology in a paperless environment (a move made possible via a partnership with Apple).
Grant's intention behind setting up Apartment 58 was to provide a "creative hub for the next generation, to relate to those working in fashion, film, music or design who perhaps don't have their own studios just yet but still want a beautiful space to work in. Apartment 58 will help the industry day to day; our members can let themselves in with their own key, access the Cloud to work off an IPad or Mac, host sample sales or launches and even pick up their mail." The apartments will also curate and showcase work by emerging designers and artists, giving them natural platforms to be seen.
In order to achieve this, Grant and his management team of 'Landlords' approached an advisory committee of 'Tenants,' made up of influential contacts across the creative industries. These 'Tenants' are responsible for the selection of the 'Friends' of the apartment and will invite their network to visit Apartment 58 and become members. Once signed up, all 'Friends' will receive a 'Friendship Card' (a premium benefits lifestyle card), which is both a key to each apartment as well as a global credit charge card. 'Friends' will also be privy to an exclusive calendar of events, enabling access to new products and services.
Mia Wallenius, who currently works for Klaus Haapaniemi as Art Director, Designer and Producer, has been appointed to design the interiors of Apartment 58. In order to create a space that feels like home (albeit a very stylish one), Wallenius selected a collection of vintage mid-20th-century classic furniture and objects that have been collected over time to give the space a lived-in feel. The colour scheme is muted yet cosy with deep purples, chocolate browns, and burning ambers mixed with light blues and greys. Key design features include bespoke wallpapers and soft furnishings by Klaus Haapaniemi, a large wood table, and bespoke seating suitable for both meetings and dinner parties.
The bar team, with experience gained at The Light Bar at St Martins Lane Hotel and Purple Bar at the Sanderson Hotel, provide a wide range of cocktails and other drinks. When it comes to meals, whether 'Friends' wish to have a long lunch or host an intimate dinner, there is a local gourmet delivery service on hand. Although it was interesting to have access to menus from the best restaurants and cafes in Soho that would deliver to the apartment, I felt that it would more attractive to have a unique cuisine that would draw the Apartment 'Friends' and their guests.
Another thing that I struggled to identify was Apartment 58's unique selling point. Although future apartments are rumoured to have bedrooms that the 'Friends' can use, the initial venue at 58 Poland Street does come across as a mere glorified living room that is only open between 08:00 and midnight. For those of us who travel between the world's fashion capitals, having a familiar living and working space and associated services that would travel with us (and allow for work and respite) would be a most welcome initiative. In addition, with membership prices starting at £360 per year for just one apartment (excluding joining fees), and with other clubs (like Soho House or The Hospital Club) offering more amenities within walking distance, it might prove difficult for Apartment 58 to survive in a competitive environment. However, after my visit, I believe that this could be a nice concept for like-minded individuals who share the same passion for creativity, and I wish it the best of success for the future.
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