Co-working spaces are already well integrated into our urban landscapes. Companies like WeWork provide communal offices for start-ups and self-employed workers whilst the likes of Soho House invite members to use their residences for wining, dining and the occasional signing of a multi-million deal. Spring, however, aims to marry the two by offering physical studio spaces to rent and membership to a network of high profile brands and individuals. LUX Editor-in-Chief Darius Sanai speaks to the co-founder and CEO Francesco Costa about his vision
LUX: Can you tell us about the concept of Spring?
Francesco Costa: I see Spring as a brand and an experienced company. It’s a brand that helps other brands and individuals in the luxury and aspirational industries to grow their businesses. We work with already established brands and freelance individuals, and it is the connection between these more established brands, emerging brands, talented young people and established talents that creates a unique environment.
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We now do creative agency production, post production and digital; we have studios, we have event spaces, we have co-work spaces and all of this together means that our clients or members or even our shareholders see us not as transaction opportunity, but as a long term opportunity. We are building a community and as a member of that community you are entitled to certain benefits. For example, we did an Estee Lauder campaign with Misty Copeland, the first African American Female Principal Dancer with ABT (American Ballet Theatre) and then we started working with ABT, and now we are the agency for ABT. We create certain content for them and some programming and then through us ABT got in touch with other brands that they want to sponsor ABT, and that creates further opportunities. That’s how this ecosystem works. Of course, the physical space has a key role because a lot of co-brands are trying to complete this without the investment – by that I mean not just a financial investment but an investment in time and the effort of finding a physical space – and it’s very difficult to do without having a physical hub in New York, Los Angeles, Paris, London, Milan where people can actually meet, where people can create opportunities. I think it is impossible to achieve what we are trying to achieve now.
LUX: When you started Spring, was the intention always to go in this direction? Or did it start more as a studio space that companies could use?
Francesco Costa: It’s interesting because everything started as a real estate investment in New York. Myself and Alessandro Cajrati, my business partner, had the idea to create a studio event space, a hub for fashion. Our partner was Jimmy Moffat, the creator of Art and Commerce, let’s say he was our expert in the field. And then we discovered this company in London called Spring Studios (founded in the late ’90s strictly as a studio space), which we thought could be a good partner – they approached us and we liked their vision.
Robin Derrick had just joined and Robin’s vision was to create content for companies that were functioning in the digital space. Then at a certain point, when the project in New York was growing, we saw that there was a synergy in what we were doing so we merged the two companies (the American investors remain the majority investors). That’s how Spring Studios as we now know it started.
Then a bit later, approximately two and a half years ago, there was a co-worker revolution which attracted a lot of attention – it became a kind of trend – and I thought it was interesting to give a physical space to the fashion community. The fashion community, but also the art community and other communities involved in the business of culture, tend to travel a lot and have a lot of social interactions. Frieze is a good example, or events or fashion shows or dinners that fashion brands put on, but there was no place where you could meet more professionally and during the daytime so I thought that there was a need for this kind of space, a place where CEOs or the head of communications can connect and collaborate with other brands and individuals.
LUX: How does your business model work? How do you benefit from the collaborations?
Francesco Costa: There two things that I get out of it: one is the attachment to the brand, to the physical space. The co-brand has an advantage working with Spring or being at Spring which brings them closer to us. The second is on the offer and the pricing. For example, we have showrooms that we rent for 2000/3000 dollars a day and we don’t rent for 2000/3000 a day because the real estate is better that the real estate next door which rent for 1000 a day, we rent it at that cost because the odds are that a journalist or a CEO or a famous blogger walks by, sees the product and thinks that it’s worth talking about or engaging with. I actually have a recent example of this. A very small, new shoe brand run by two young women with limited capital, launched their product in one of our showrooms and a buyer for one of the biggest retails was in the space for another meeting at that time. He saw the product, loved it and they signed a multi-million contract. This is what we offer, and this is what I mean about the benefits the community can provide.
LUX: Finally, can you tell us a little bit about the brands that work with you and the kinds of projects you might work on together?
Francesco Costa: Of course – Estee Lauder might shoot a campaign in the studio, but that’s just the start. If we talk about our clients for whom we do the production, we have Tom Ford, Marc Jacobs, L’Oreal to name a few. We do their campaigns. Then we have a whole other set of partners or clients for whom we run events. For example, we work with Universal Music, we did the Grammy’s week in January, New York Fashion week twice a year, Tribeca Film Festival, the list goes on.
To learn more about Spring’s studios and events visit: springstudios.com