I popped into the LuLu Lemon flagship on Fifth Ave because I was curious about the HUB 17 space's success and how it's being used. If you're not familiar, it's an entire floor dedicated to community activities. I was there in the middle of the day, in the middle of the work week and the space was in its default mode. In other words, there were no active events being held at the time. Everywhere you looked people, even teams of people, were working. In the back of the room, there were steps designed as seating for a mini stage area. It was taken over by a group conducting a brainstorming session on the walls. It's a free and pleasant work space in the middle of Manhattan so it's no surprise it's been taken over for this purpose in the middle of the work week. I wondered if this was an issue because it's likely not what LuLu had dreamed for this space. That said, I think it's ok. There was a lot of creativity, but peaceful :), energy buzzing around the room.
LuLu must also think it's "ok." While it looks like they have had to add some rules-for-use-and-conduct, they seem quite happy to let the space serve the community however they want to use it as long as they follow the rules including "no kids." (which they say in a very nice zen-like way - SEE the "How to HUB" photo). The floor was manned by a very friendly associate who hung-out behind in the kitchen are. She asked if I had been there before and offered me a tour. We chatted about the other events they host in the space. She directed me online where they have a decent calendar of events even in the busy month of December. We toured an adjacent exercise room and I was a little surprised to find out they only have one yoga class per week! But I guess they are more than just yoga. Overall, the space is warm and comfortable both in it's simple, light and airy residential design and in the vibe that penetrates it.
I think despite the admirable ambitions for the space, when a brand opens its doors to the community like this they lose a certain amount of control and the realities of real human behavior enter the picture. I admire them for managing this in the middle of busy Manhattan and letting the community truly connect with the space on their terms and not just on the terms prescribed by the brand.
There are many brands creating 'space' for the community to live and breath like Wanderlust for example. Trendy? Yes, probably, but these brands are taking an active role in distributing ideas, not just products, that are changing how we live, eat and yes...think about the world which I see as a good thing.