This working club in Hong Kong opened its doors to a counterculture community last month, setting the scene for creativity, expression and the formation of world-changing ideas.
October 13th, 2018
When she established Eaton House, Katherine Lo wanted to create a new kind of gathering space, and she looked to film, festival and factory for inspiration. Lo is the Founder and President of Eaton Workshop, the parent company behind this new form of working club, which launched in Hong Kong in September to offer space to a community of activists, NGOs, artists, environmentalists and anthropologists.
She took her cues from the newsroom portrayed in Australian film The Year of Living Dangerously, and more. “We’ve drawn inspiration from iconic gathering places like Andy Warhol’s Factory and Burning Man, and are excited about the potential to be the modern gathering place that will encourage grassroots projects and artistic expression that foster solutions towards a more utopian society,” says Lo.
Located in Jordan, Kowloon, the Hong Kong space is the second to open globally, and surely this is just the beginning. Washington DC opened earlier this year, and next up are San Francisco and Seattle – all taking this unique approach to fostering a community that’s geared at change-making for a better world.
Another point of difference is the 465-room Eaton Hotel, Hong Kong, which sits on the same property, giving members a chance to enjoy a “conscious” hospitality offering that’s focused on the “purpose-driven traveller”. This includes hotel screening rooms, artist residency rooms, preferred rates on guest rooms, restaurants The Astor, Eaton Foodhall and Yat Tung Heen, plus funky bar Flower Years, which has a “sprawling terrace”, says Lo, whose father Dr Lo Ka Shui is Executive Chairman of Langham Hospitality Group, the parent company to Eaton Hotels.
Other community facilities include a 50-seat cinema, an in-house radio station, a gallery space called Tomorrow Maybe, and a recording studio.
To create such a unique space, Lo sought the help of New York-headquartered design studio AvroKO. The resulting design feels distinctly retro; earthy tones mix with primary colours to create a vibe that’s reminiscent of the 1970s. Caramel leather sofas, wood-panelled walls and curvilinear lighting add to this impression.
“Instead of cramming in desks, we have created large areas with relaxed seating ranging from handsome sofas to custom-designed bean bags. By incorporating [soon-to-open bar] Terrible Baby, we’re also acknowledging the social aspect of work. The fluid nature of Eaton House means that our members are able to create the work experience that suits them,” says Lo.
“The lines between work and home have now been blurred and our physical Eaton properties aim to serve as a ‘third space’ where people can come together to celebrate and support each other in their endeavours,” she adds.
Wellness is also a key part of Eaton’s mission. “I firmly believe that in order for us to do good in the world, we must nurture and care for ourselves as well,” says Lo. “Research consistently shows that activists who have dedicated their lives to social movements often fall prey to poor health. We don’t believe there should be any separation between caring for the world and caring for ourselves, and this holistic vision is incorporated into every level of Eaton, from the physical hotels and working clubs to the digital content we are creating.”
Members therefore have access to the hotel’s rooftop pool and its gym, and they can also take part in tai chi classes, they can get reiki treatments, and the community spaces are dotted with Himalayan salt lamps.
For Lo, though, creating that sense of community and connection is what it’s all about, and that’s part of why she has combined hotel, working club, creative spaces and holistic offering under one roof.
“I foresee the future of work and travel to be centred around community. So much more than a desire for a unique experience, people today want to feel a part of something bigger and connected to others. This is the driving force behind the Eaton Workshop brand,” she says. “Eaton House Hong Kong has [already] become a place where the city’s outliers can come to truly be themselves, be free and open in a shared community, and collaborate on meaningful projects with like-minded people.”
Photography by Lit Ma (courtesy of Eaton House).
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