When The Ned – a hotel and members club of the people who created Soho House – opened in London in 2017, part of its charm was an art collection meant to challenge ideas of what a club is. located in the buttoned city of London could be.
“In London, I decided to respond to a prejudice about what the neighborhood looked like,” says Kate Bryan, Global Artistic Director of Soho House & Co. “Who hangs out there? Will they all be middle-aged guys smoking cigars? The Ned proved that there were some very interesting people in town and they needed a place to relax that was well thought out. So I decided that our art collection should reflect this disparity.
What Bryan did was curate a collection of 100 works of art, 93 of which were done by female artists and seven of which were done by men, but only those that were in collaboration with women. It was a deliberate choice to reverse the gender disparity evident in business. “It was a progressive collection and it really made an impact,” says Bryan. “I knew when we were going to do the Ned in New York, I had to think about inclusion and make that the backbone of the collection.”
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Now that the Ned has opened in New York’s NoMad neighborhood, Bryan has put his plan into action. “The collection in New York is about the building,” she explains. “It was funded in 1903 by a woman, which was extremely unusual, and it was part of a time at the turn of the last century when people whose parents or grandparents had been enslaved owned businesses, where gay people lived openly in these bohemian lifestyles, and women funded projects. The Harlem Renaissance was only a decade away. There was an incredible time when there were such progressive attitudes and New York was such a hotbed.”
She continues: “During the rest of the century, however, many of these breakthroughs were challenged. One hundred years later, we’re still trying to reclaim that ground in many ways, so the collection, which is called “A Different Century,” is curated in response to that moment in history. We ask artists to think about what this last century could have looked like and what this one should look like.
The hotel has commissioned and acquired works by artists such as Marilyn Minter, Mickalene Thomas, David Wojnarowicz, Rashid Johnson, Glenn Ligon, and many others to not only highlight Bryan’s mission, but also to add atmosphere to space. (Soho House Design collaborated with Stonehill Taylor on the property’s interiors.) The Ned’s library houses a sculpture by Zoë Buckman, its Cecconi Restaurant outpost features works by all the female artists, and even the reception welcomes guests. guests with works by Minter and Elliott Jerome. Brown, Jr. – clearly showing a devotion not only to established talent in the art world, but also to rising stars. “We always try to make sure there’s a big impact when you walk in –hey, we have a Laurie Simmons in our lobby— but also to have layers that you can peel off over time,” she explains. “There are a few surprises.”
It’s something Soho House CEO Nick Jones is happy to share with his guests. “New York is so special to me and has been an important part of our history at Soho House and five years after launching The Ned London, we are so thrilled to be able to bring The Ned NoMad to New York,” he says. “The Ned London has created a real new destination in the heart of the city, and I can’t wait to see the same happen in New York.”
For Bryan, the hotel’s artwork tells the story of the building, but also serves as a backdrop for the memories being made there today. “This place is a love letter to New York of the last century, and it’s exciting to be in that context,” she says. “Everything feels good but never so luxurious that no one is out of place. We want people to imagine it’s their art; it’s there because it’s a place people can enjoy it.
Adam Rathe is City & Countryassistant director for feature films, covering arts and culture and a range of other subjects.