There are few things more exclusive than a private club.
After years of working within the members-only club scene in London, Alan Linn saw a space in the market for a club that catered specifically to New York City’s abundant creative community.
In 2007 he came to the US and opened Norwood, a now-bustling five-story club with more than 1,000 members ranging from 21 to 80 years old. Its ranks include architects, fashion designers, musicians, media moguls, and art collectors.
Linn’s number-one tip for making it through the selection process is simple: “Be curious.”
We talked to Linn about the history of Norwood, and what it’s like to be a part of one of New York’s top creative communities.
The club is located in an unassuming brownstone near the corner of West 14th Street and 8th Avenue in Manhattan. Built in 1874 by Andrew S. Norwood, the building was, at the time, an extravagant mansion with a total 13 fireplaces, mahogany doors, and intricate plaster crown moulding.
To be accepted to the club, you must prove your involvement with the creative arts, and go through an extensive hour-long interview, which gets reported to the board of directors. 'It's as much as what are we going to get out of them as members, as what are they going to get out of us,' Linn said. There's a $A1,000 membership joining fee, and an annual fee of $2,800 a year -- or $1,600 if you're under 30.
'When we take on new members, it's not always about everyone knowing everyone,' Linn said. 'It's about creating an alchemy, so to speak. It's nice to combine various professions and backgrounds at one dinner table.'
Members are able to come and go throughout the day and night. The club opens at 10 a.m. and is used by many as a workspace for client meetings, drinks with co-workers (non-members are allowed in when accompanied by a member), or a quick breakfast and some WiFi.
The food served at the club is aimed towards comfort. Shrimp and grits are a menu staple. 'There's so many good restaurants in New York -- so we focus on consistency,' Linn said. Once a month, a group of 16 members who have never met are gathered for a private dinner to help promote networking within the club. 'It's a bit like an AA meeting, but there is alcohol,' Linn joked.
There are multiple bars in the club, in addition to a wine cellar in the basement. Norwood also has an impressive art collection that rotates annually.
Various events are held during the evenings, including sketch-drawing tutorials, wine sample tastings, live music, and speed-mentoring sessions.
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