The Wing’s Washington DC location isn’t open just yet, but it’s already bursting with activity. While the bright hallways and technicolor rooms are mostly empty, the doorbell is constantly ringing. As a small team bustles around getting ice machines fixed and upbeat pop music (from female artists only, duh) flows out of the speakers, Audrey Gelman (co-founder, friend of Lena Dunham, inspiration for Marnie and human who you’ve probably read a thousand interviews of (or maybe that was just me?)) walks us through the impeccably designed space. Their first foray outside of New York City (though several other cities are to follow).
If you know anything about The Wing, it shouldn’t surprise you that touring the very popular co-working space / women’s club feels like stumbling straight into an Instagram post. An Instagram post engineered for 10,000+ likes, of course.
From the infamous library organized by color, to the sumptuous suede fringed chairs, every inch of the space looks like it was designed to the nth degree.
And it was, even the space itself was heavily researched before they decided to move in, “This building has a very special history because it was the first female owned architecture studio in the country,” says Gelman, adding, “The view and the character of the space is really unique, we always look for places that have a really interesting story.”
While inhabiting Chloethiel Woodard Smith‘s historic studio is certainly on brand for The Wing, Gelman understands Georgetown doesn’t have a great reputation among (young, presumably-target-Wing-audience) locals. When I bring up the neighborhood’s penchant for being expensive and exclusive (and a true pain to get to), she explains, “I think we were trying to funk it up a little bit… We looked at a lot of spaces in D.C., a lot of new buildings that were glass and shiny, but what appeals to us more are older spaces that have more of a legacy and feel warmer.” She goes on, adding, “I know that it’s a little bit of a destination, but I think that the view and the character of the space is really worth it.”
To be fair, that view, which looks over the canal and frames the historical buildings of Georgetown, is as gorgeous as everything else in the building. After walking past a conference room labeled with the name “K Street” and phone booths adorned with the names of women in politics, I ask Gelman about how The Wing plans to represent the less political side of D.C., especially our thriving creative scene. “We’ve had women who work in politics and government apply to join, but there’s been representation from a variety of professions, from engineering and STEM, to a lot of women who are graphic designers and artists and creatives,” says Gelman. “I think we’re just getting started, so we’re looking to reach out and incorporate women in those areas into our programming… We’re doing something fun with Girls Night In this month, so we’re starting to make connections and I’m excited to make more of them.” We, for one, are intrigued to see where The Wing programming goes, especially without the relatively easy access to the NYC pool of talent their outstanding event roster has relied on in the Soho and Flatiron locations.
Entering the main events space, the full size of The Wing really hits you. From the moment you walk up the stairs and enter the lobby, it’s clear that The Wing’s rooms are bright and lovely, but they lean on the smaller size with cozy nooks and desks galore. So, it’s the buildings final room that makes the biggest impact. There’s a mid-century modern inspired stage area, theatre style seating, a ton of couches, chairs, tables and in the corner, The Perch, The Wing’s in-house cafe. Like their New York locations, they plan on having plenty of events here, from moderated panels, to movie screenings.
Still, one question lingers. A lot of D.C. women have not joined and the reason is simple: they have an office to go to. Marketed as ‘a club’, the primary business of The Wing is a co-working rental model. In a city like D.C. where a lot of people still keep 9-to-5’s, the buzz on the street was that it excluded people not only because of the somewhat inconvenient non-metro accessible location, but also because a lot of people who are interested in becoming Wing women are not in the market for a work space.
As we take in the location, I ask Gelman if she’s considering changing up the membership tiers to include people who can’t work in The Wing during the day, but want to be apart of their incredibly popular events. She explains they are, adding, “We’re looking at some more flexible membership tiers so that people can use [The Wing] on the weekends, etc.”
Making our way back to the lobby, our conversation comes full circle and we’re chatting about history again. “Obviously there’s a rich history of powerful, opinionated women and we wanted to create a sanctuary for that,” Gelman says as she talks about the D.C. women’s clubs of the past. But it’s not only that part of The Wing’s brand that interests me. After mentioning The Wing’s low-key witchy references (their merch shop includes a pentagram shirt and a ouija influenced pin) which bring back fond memories of tumblr circa 2012, Gelman smiles and says, “I think there’s something about a coven of witches that is historically similar to the idea of a large group of women gathering together… There’s something conspiratorial about that, that we’re plotting to take over or something.”
If the women of The Wing are plotting anything, you can be sure it’s going to look fantastic and smell even better.
The Wing is located at 1056 Thomas Jefferson Street NW. It officially opens doors to members this Thursday. You can apply to be a Wing Woman here.