The Wing didn’t close in the first half of 2020 when numerous reports, including one on Jezebel, revealed the company had a culture of racism and neglect towards its employees. It didn’t close later that summer when Aubrey Gelman, the founder and CEO, resigned. And it didn’t close after the firm IWG purchased a majority stake in the company in early 2021. But before anyone could say “nevertheless, she persisted,” a termination notice was sent.
Late Tuesday night, around 11 PM, the remaining members of the six still-operating co-working spaces received an email announcing the company’s immediate closure. It read:
“The operating environment since reopening our six current locations of The Wing, 14 months ago has continued to prove extremely challenging. With the backdrop of the Covid pandemic and increasing global economic challenges, we have been unable to recover and grow the level of active membership and event activity necessary to run a financially sustainable operation. As a consequence, we are very sorry to say that all of The Wing locations will be closing permanently, and members will no longer have access with immediate effect.”
Although nothing on the company’s website or social media accounts make mention of the closure, at some point in the middle of the night, comments were disabled on their Instagram. In response to a request for comment, The Wing’s support email sent an automatic reply confirming that the spaces had “permanently closed.” Let’s have a moment of silence for the lost souls who now have to find somewhere else to pee in Flatiron and Soho.
The Wing received a lot of well-deserved criticism during its heyday, mostly about how it was a glorified girl-boss country club that recreated the harmful divisions of racism and classism. But, for the most part, that reckoning has been hashed out to such an extent that, now that it’s actually closing, the news has centered around something else: the company’s objectively beautiful furniture.
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If you search Twitter for mention of the closure, you only have to scroll past one or two tweets before finding the dozens of people (not so jokingly) asking when the company’s furniture auction is taking place. Some users couched this query in concern, posting, “not to be insensitive but what’s happening to all the furniture.” Others flatly requested the time and date of the fire sale.
The Wing’s furniture, while very trendy, was also bold, fun, and vibrant. The colorful velvet couches, rattan armchairs, and terrazzo countertops were statement pieces that belonged in millennial Barbie’s Instagram dream house. And like Instagram, the delectable aesthetics hid something much more sinister beneath the gloss—the company’s negligible practices. But the furniture items were good quality and definitively set The Wing apart from other co-working spaces that felt more like discount Silicon Valley offices. Unlike competing co-working spaces, I, like seemingly a lot of other people, would want The Wing’s furniture in my own home. The Soho location’s conversation pit is something I’ve scoured Zillow listings for.
The Wing owes its aesthetic identity to Chiara de Rege, who designed the first six locations herself. She confirmed to Jezebel that an in-house designer from her firm completed the remaining locations based on her original designs. To create The Wing’s visual character she provided a list of the woman-led brands she used: “Cristina Celestina [for] furniture and lighting...Missana upholstery...Kate Loudon Shand fabrics ...Maison C wallpaper and Flat Vernacular Paper as well as Caitlin Macgeuly...Sachi Rose did all the flowers and plants and Lolita Cross curated the art.” In her email, de Rege also advised against sourcing items from big box brands. “Taking time to meet local artisans and finding people to execute one’s vision builds up community and adds something timeless to a space,” she wrote. This intel might be the second best thing to stumbling across all of these items outside one of the shuttered locations.
While people might be ready to say goodbye to the oft-pronounced dead girlboss era, lots of folks are still willing to mine it for a home makeover. At the moment, there is no official word on where it’s all headed. But witnessing this demographic of savvy women—whom The Wing aspired to court—feasting off of the spaces’ remnants like vultures circling a carcass is, in a survival of the fittest kind of way, sort of beautiful.