If you haven't yet heard of The Wing, you will (they're launching in London soon). A members’ club where women of all backgrounds, ages and professions can join forces, their mission is to aid women’s professional, civic, social, and economic advancement through community: “We believe that the act of coming together as women creates new opportunities, ideas and conversations that will lead to greater mobility and prosperity for womankind,” Founders Audrey Gelman and Lauren Kassan state on the website.
That's where Ly came in. A Harvard graduate and former employee of some of the world’s top architecture firms, the New Zealand-born, California-raised designer has directed all of The Wing’s projects – from their first ever Flatiron office in 2016 to the latest Washington DC Site, which opened this April. Speaking to the Atlantic, Ly revealed a big part of the process was brainstorming what the spaces should look like, as a women-only co-working and event space had never been done before.
Ly’s vision for The Wing is a world away from the man-cave environments of many modern start-ups. “There are other things that get them excited. Foosball tables, beanbags, beer pong”, she said of male-led businesses. “For us, it’s not about toys. We’re not trying to give you free food. We’re just trying to make you feel comfortable.”
So what does a feminist office look like? The focus on comfort is key – from soft, skin-friendly materials and suitably-proportioned furniture, to ‘pumping stations’ for breastfeeding mothers and relaxed ‘beauty rooms’ in a separate area to the toilets. Ly believes a major part of making women feel comfortable is giving them room for choice: “It’s having areas for women to have privacy, or to work in big groups,” she explains, revealing there are a variety of different spaces built into the buildings, like tucked-away corners and open social hubs.
Of course, there’s also the chic and feminine design touches that make the spaces so appealing – aesthetically-pleasing curves, floral arrangements, kitschy wallpaper and plenty of millennial pink. But, as Ly puts it, these are just the icing on the (very Instagrammable) cake.