Soho House Is Inching Toward Profitability, and Other News

Our daily look at the world through the lens of design.

Soho House Nashville. Photography by Andrew Joseph Wooner

The Design Dispatch offers expertly written and essential news from the design world crafted by our dedicated team. Think of it as your cheat sheet for the day in design delivered to your inbox before you’ve had your coffee. Subscribe now

Have a news story our readers need to see? Submit it here

Soho House Is Inching Toward Profitability

Ever since opening its first clubhouse on London’s Greek Street in 1995, Soho House’s inexplicable cool factor and pristinely furnished lounges and restaurants have catered to the young, city-dwelling creative class. But in nearly three decades of refining this image and recent rapid-fire global expansion, the members-only mainstay has never been profitable. This came into sharper focus when Membership Collective Group—Soho House’s new parent company that went public last year—reported an $82 million second-quarter loss this past week, only furthering Soho House’s two-decade-long cycle of being in the red. Even with more than 200,000 members, the company has accumulated a $1.2 billion deficit.

According to Membership Collective Group, that’s set to change by the end of this year. Credit a post-pandemic return to normalcy, increased membership rates after expanding to cities like Paris and Nashville, and revenue from spending within clubs skyrocketing 140 percent. Soho House is also far more affordable than its peers, asking a reasonable $209 monthly rate for single-club access. (The private club at the recently opened Aman New York, meanwhile, demands a $200,000 initiation fee and monthly dues of $1,250.) Joining Soho House will require some patience: its waitlist currently exceeds 81,500 people. High retention rates of 95 percent suggest its members are content and not going anywhere, even with a recession looming. Case in point: when the pandemic brought about an economic downturn and shuttered its clubs, only 10 percent of members pulled out. —Ryan Waddoups

Foster + Partners’ proposal for a master plan for Amaravati, India. Image courtesy of Foster + Partners

Foster + Partners sues over unpaid design fees from the Amaravati master plan.

“A row between an Indian government contractor and Foster + Partners over supposedly unpaid design fees related to the abandoned Amaravati master plan has reached the country’s Supreme Court after the London-based studio entered a lawsuit there last week. The suit was brought against the state-run Amaravati Metropolitan Region Development Authority (AMRDA) over their repeated inability to respond to payment requests from Foster + Partners that date to 2019. Foster + Partners had worked alongside AMRDA for a period of several years to develop an administrative city for the state of Andhra Pradesh that included a new legislative building, judicial facilities, and a complex of office buildings at a reported price of £500 million ($600 million USD).” [H/T Archinect]

The Catskills hotel that inspired the setting for Dirty Dancing suffers a major fire.

“The 1987 film Dirty Dancing has been revered for its iconic setting in the Catskills. On Tuesday night, a building at the famed New York resort that once hosted idyllic family summers and served as inspiration for the film’s backdrop burned down. The Liberty, New York, fire department said Wednesday that a three-and-a-half-story building at Grossinger’s Catskill resort had caught on fire overnight. The fire was so massive, they said, that smoke could be seen for several miles.” [H/T CBS]

Twitter calls out a bench promoting a new Marvel movie as anti-homeless architecture.

“People are bashing the Marvel’s She-Hulk: Attorney At Law launch for showcasing a bench that has multiple armrests, calling it ‘anti-homeless architecture.’ A picture was taken of a bench with the name and phone number of Jennifer Walters in the series and a quote reading, ‘Superheroes need a super lawyer!’ If people call the number, 1-877-SHE-HULK, fans are treated to a minute-long phone message from Walters selling her services. However, many users on Twitter took notice that there were armrests in the middle of the bench and called out Disney for showcasing an example of ‘anti-homeless architecture’ in their promotion of the Marvel series.” [H/T Newsweek]

“Untitled 2” (1999) by Paula Rego. Image courtesy of the estate of Paula Rego and Cristea Roberts Gallery, London

Paula Rego’s famed Abortion Etchings are heading to The Armory Show in September.

“The legal, economic, and moral consequences of the United States Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade are still unfolding. In the wake of it, artists and galleries have sprung to action, rallying to support abortion providers. The trend looks to continue at the Armory Show, which will include among its offerings a group of works from Paula Rego’s celebrated series on abortion access. Opening on September 9 at the Javits Center, the fair has partnered with London’s Cristea Roberts Gallery to exhibit Rego’s “Abortion Etchings” in the Crystal Palace—the front entrance—during the fair’s run. Proceeds from the sales of the two most recent prints from the series will be donated to Abortion on Demand, a telemedicine abortion care provider. The donations will be made in the late artist’s name.” [H/T ARTnews]

The architect Andrés Jaque will succeed Amale Andraos as dean of Columbia GSAPP.

“The architect Andrés Jaque, 51, the founder and principal of the Office for Political Innovation, based in New York and Madrid, will be the new dean for Columbia University’s Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation. The university’s president, Lee Bollinger, announced the appointment on Thursday. Jaque has taught at the graduate school since 2013 and leads the Master of Science program in Advanced Architectural Design. He succeeds Amale Andraos, who was appointed to advise Bollinger on the recently formed Columbia Climate School.” [H/T The New York Times]

A house built by the Make It Right Foundation in New Orleans. Photography by James Ewing/OTTO

Brad Pitt agrees to a $20.5 million settlement for his housing charity’s defective homes.

“Brad Pitt has reportedly agreed to a settlement of $20.5 million for the owners of homes built by his Make It Right Foundation housing charity, which suffered from water leaks, black mold and foundation issues. A settlement was reached earlier this week that will see $20.5 million paid to the homeowners, who brought legal action after numerous defects to their homes were found. The money for the settlement will be provided by Global Green, a California-based non-profit that was not named in the lawsuit but has links to the Hollywood actor. Pitt is listed as one of the non-profit’s advocates on its website.” [H/T Dezeen]

Wayfair lays off 870 staffers as customers shift their spending away from home goods.

“Online home furnishings retailer Wayfair is cutting 870 jobs, including 400 in its home city of Boston, as the company reacts to sales declines brought on in part by steep inflation. Chief executive Niraj Shah announced the job cuts in a memo to all 18,000 employees on Friday morning. The layoffs represent about 5 percent of the company’s global workforce, and 10 percent of its corporate team. The announcement comes just two weeks after Wayfair reported disappointing second-quarter earnings.” [H/T Boston Globe]

The vinyl library in Brooklyn’s Central Library. Photography by Gregg Richards

Today’s attractive distractions:

Brooklyn’s Central Library opens a 400-album vinyl library and listening room. 

Invasive feral pigs are helping save northern Australia’s crocodile population.

Two pole dancers created a “magical moment” at this viral gender reveal party.

More discerning Gen-Z shoppers are skeptical of ridiculous wellness products.

All Stories