Popular women's co-working space, The Wing, has officially begun its (highly anticipated) seven-city expansion. The first stop? The historic Georgetown neighborhood of Washington, D.C.
As a former place of residence for the co-founders, D.C. made a natural fit as the first new location outside New York City limits. "I've lived here in D.C. and my business partner, Lauren, went to college here so we were already familiar with the city and operationally we had a sense of how things would work," says co-founder and CEO Audrey Gelman.
Audrey and Lauren worked with très chic interior designer, Chiara de Rege, to make the new space feel cozy and at home for the women of the nation's capital, while maintaining their signature mid-century aesthetic and bold, vintage accents.
Signature The Wing features made it from New York, including The Perch Cafe, beauty parlor, color-coordinated library, and meditation room— accompanied by pastel color-blocked chairs, and lots of fun textures and prints. The huge space is carefully designed to make each room feel intimate, featuring cool nooks and crannies like phone rooms named after powerhouse women.
Apartment Therapy sat down with Audrey Gelman to discuss her favorite elements of the space and the iconic history behind their outpost.
This is the first location outside of NYC — Why D.C.?
This has been our most requested city since we opened our first location. There was a clarion call from the women of D.C. that we needed to get down here.
Georgetown is a historic part of town. Many of the buildings have a cool backstory. Is there anything you can tell us about the history of this space?
The history was a big part of our decision to plant our feet here. Funny story, I was staying across the street and saw a 'for rent' sign — we had no idea it had this awesome, unique history. During its peak, it was actually the largest woman owned architecture firm in the country, started in the 1960s by Chloethiel Woodard Smith. We have a plaque downstairs where we dedicate our entryway to her. She was a pioneer in her field of architecture and design; there are amazing black and white photos of her leading this office full of men.
It's very rare to find a space on the market that has a special women's intricacy to it (not to mention overlooking the canal in one of the best neighborhoods the city has to offer) the combination of those things made it very appealing to us.
Why go mid-century modern?
Historically when we see social clubs they're very dark—there's a lot of taxidermy, lots of dark leather, and so on. With The Wing, we wanted to go in a different direction and have a super bright, warm, and unapologetically feminine style. A lot of the furniture that appealed to us was mid-century, but in this space there's a mixture of design styles. You'll find contemporary pieces and others that are more traditional; rich colors like burgundy and forest green. Here, we used lots of texture like fringe in the tables and chairs, plaid, fur, wicker, and fun additives that we haven't used in past spaces.
What have you incorporated to make the space unique to the D.C. community?
We try to avoid being hokey, but, when you enter the space the wallpaper features significant women of D.C., the phone booths are named after political trailblazers, our conference rooms are named after local neighborhoods, and we partnered with a number of local female owned businesses for our cafe. Through our partnerships and programming, as well as some aspects of design, we try to make sure it feels indigenous to the neighborhood.
There's so much furniture envy inside the space; what's the most fabulous piece inside The Wing D.C.?
I'm really into this couch! This entire area is very special to me. I love the black wicker chairs with the white checkered pillows. We have a plaid rug in the main room that I love and the fringe chairs; they look like they're wearing a jacket!
Recently The Wing made headlines for possible gender discrimination. Is there anything you'd like to let our readers know about the incident?
The headlines were definitely more dramatic than the facts — all that has happened to-date is that we have mutually agreed to meet and have a conversation with the New York Human Rights Commission. Because of the history of women in this country — and even more so in this time we live in — we believe it is important to protect and foster the work of The Wing and similar spaces that give women a positive and safe space to thrive. Human rights include empowering women not taking more away from them. The law recognizes this too and is consistent with The Wing's values and mission.
Has having a dedicated space for women changed or morphed in importance as you rapidly expand across the globe?
In light of the current political climate, the #MeToo movement and with sexual harassment allegations being exposed by women across industries — we firmly believe that women need and deserve spaces like The Wing now more than ever. Our mission to empower women will remain consistent as we expand across the U.S. and internationally, and we are thrilled to grow our community of women.
As expansion continues, are there going to be changes in pricing or additional membership levels/options?
The Wing's scholarship program will be launching in the coming months, and we are actively looking at introducing new membership tiers to The Wing more accessible to women at all stages of their lives and careers.