How Spring Powers New York City’s Creative Megawatts

‘Surface’ gets a peek behind the glamorous curtain and into the inner workings of the agency and studio space that powers the city’s highest-octane cultural happenings—and its secret members-only club.

Picture this: early fall has descended upon New York City, and in a light-filled former warehouse downtown, Thelma Golden and Tyler Mitchell are candidly talking about art just a few feet away from where you sit. After, you get up to stretch your legs during a break, pausing at the foot of a sleek oak-paneled staircase to let Cindy Crawford and Kaia Gerber snap some photos together. Later, Olivier Rousteing will take the stage with veteran editor Tonne Goodman, chronicling his ascent to the top of the French fashion house Balmain.

Just across the hall, at the Spring restaurant redesigned by celebrated French architect Nathan Litera, you take everything in over a warming bowl of green curry perfected by executive chef Fabio Bano—an alumnus of Union Square Café and Armani Ristorante. Then, you head upstairs to claim a workspace at the members’ club that Martino Gamper furnished in Italian modernist style and resume working over a perfectly steeped cup of peppermint tea. At Spring, which hosts a full-service creative agency, studio space, event production arm, and members club Spring Place, a scene this exceptional is simply part of everyday life. 

As the official partner of New York Fashion Week: The Shows, Tribeca Film Festival, and Independent Art Fair, Spring Studios plays a pivotal role in the cultural fabric of downtown. Spring Place, which opened in 2018, has gone a step further by connecting the people who both work behind the scenes to make such events happen with each other and their talented peers across industries and disciplines. If the origins of members clubs are in excluding others on the basis of sex and landowning status, and their past is as an all-day hangout for aimless trust-funders masquerading as “creatives” to day-drink and celeb-spot, then Spring Place represents a much brighter future. 

Dedicated workspaces, conference rooms, executive suites, and quiet areas equip members to collaborate with each other, their guests, or focus in blissful peace and near-silence. All-day tea, coffee, and water is self-service and on the house. A quick walk downstairs puts chef Bano’s culinary prowess at hand, namely the rotating all-day menu whose current offerings are inspired by a late summer trip across the Asian continent and his own Italian background. Green curry and pho sound particularly warming this time of year, but one could just as easily settle in for a late dinner over beef tartare and a bottle of Dom Perignon. 

Spring Place members also get preferential access to events across the hall from the restaurant at Spring Studios. “If Fashion Week is happening, we’ll have access for our members,” Spring Studios president Grégoire Assémat Tessandier tells Surface. “If Tribeca [Film Festival] is happening, they have access. When the Future of Everything Festival happened here in May with Michelle Obama, they had access.”

Still, he emphasizes that Spring Studios is more than a venue. Around this time last fall, Spring approached IMG, whose events arm holds the rights to NYFW: The Shows, with an observation and a proposal. Given the overlap between tennis and fashion, and with the U.S. Open taking place during Fashion Week, wouldn’t it make sense for the two companies to collaborate on some kind of related programming? Spring and IMG then teamed up to transform Spring’s rooftop terrace into a regulation U.S. Open–inspired tennis court, where they hosted panels about the symbiotic relationship between fashion and tennis. “When Serena Williams announced her retirement, she then came here to launch her fashion line,” Assémat says of the whirlwind week.

Marquee cultural moments will always be an important part of the Spring ecosystem, and as the New York location approaches its 10-year anniversary, celebrating up-and-coming and independent talents is becoming increasingly more vital. Case in point: the upcoming “Pretty Secrets” design exhibition curated by Eny Lee Parker and featuring collectible design objects from seven emerging women talents: Angelina Pei, Cat Love, Jia Xin Huang, Izzy Yang, Madeleine Young Maggie Pei, and Sarah Holloway. 

“Spring has been an incredible source of support throughout the production of this show,” says Parker, who is herself a member of Spring Place. “I’m thrilled to bring together my world with emerging talents and fellow artists within Spring’s community.” The exhibition offers a peek into the role Spring—not just Spring Studios, or Spring Place, but the entire operation—can play in writing the next chapter of the city’s art and design scene. 

Members of Spring Place can use their access to Spring Studios programming to widen their perspectives and ignite inspiration, using the club facilities to hone their ideas and execution. With additional support from Spring Studios, non-members can be brought into the fold, benefitting from invaluable resources for everything from event publicity to exhibition space. As their star rises, perhaps they choose Spring as their creative home, in whatever way makes sense for them. Or, as Parker puts it rather more succinctly: “The advantage of being in New York is our ability to embrace all industries and foster a collective, shared experience in the same space.”

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