The founders of the design-led club explain how The Wonder goes beyond providing leisure, programming, and work spaces for kids and adults, enriching membership through choice brand partnerships and value-added services

PSFK was invited to preview The Wonder, a newly opened members-only club in the Tribeca neighborhood of New York City that is designed to serve as a third space for families. For a monthly membership fee, parents and their children can gather, participate in events and workshops and connect with each other as well as the larger community.

Although there has been a spate of members' clubs opening in recent years, the co-founders of The Wonder, Sarah Robinson and Noria Morales, felt that there were not any spaces that were designed specifically for families. “There was nothing engaging for parents. I felt desperate for a sense of community. There were a lot of community spaces and third spaces forming, yet none of them were for families,” Robinson told PSFK.

Robinson and Morales created The Wonder to meet the differentiated needs of modern parents, who are increasingly spending more time with their children yet feel more isolated from the community at large. Morales said, “Our vision, ultimately, is to be that voice for a new generation of parents. The whole idea or perception around parents is so outdated. It's more diverse. We're interacting with our kids in different ways. We're spending more time with our kids than ever.”

Photo by Andrew Boyle/The Wonder.

The Wonder’s space was designed with a decidedly analog feel, in order to encourage screen-free interactions. Morales said, “All your kid really wants is for you to put down your phone and play with them. That’s all. If I sit on the floor and play Legos with my kids, they’re so happy. That’s what we tried to create with this space.”

The Wonder offers a robust series of programming, with classes, workshops and events for the whole family, including baby development classes, immersive art classes, craft nights, family disco nights and book clubs. There will even be a kids’ art auction led by an auctioneer from Christie’s.

A key element to the programming is a series of kids-led workshops that allow kids to teach a class on a topic of their choice. “I think it’s empowering to the children and it’s fun,” Morales said. “I was just talking to one of our members, and her daughter really wants to start a book club here, so let's give them the space to do that. I think it's a powerful way for them to start where they're seeing their role as little leaders.”

The airy, 8,000-square-foot space is impeccably designed, with a vibe that is decidedly chic, not juvenile. It features an on-site café (with both kid-friendly and adult beverages), a carefully curated book nook, a secluded nursery, classrooms and a coworking space where parents can pop in to check their email or make a call. All of the details of the space have been carefully thought out, down to the bathroom fixtures, in order to make the experience as hassle-free as possible for parents.

Photo by Andrew Boyle/The Wonder.

The heart of the space is the 1,500-square-foot play area, designed by a set designer with the theme of ‘Retro Future,’ featuring a rocket ship and giant carpeted doughnut for kids to climb on, a play kitchen, an interactive Pong game and a giant Etch-A-Sketch (which is the only screen in the space).

In order to generate excitement and ensure that there will always be something new to discover, Morales and Robinson have programmed the space around a series of rotating themes that will change every few months, with future themes including ‘Back to School’ and ‘Heroes and Villains.’

“We think that the freshness of it keeps people excited,” Morales told PSFK. “It also allows us to do different types of partnerships, whether it’s a brand partner or a cultural partner, and we can put that into whatever programming that we do. We think about it almost like a magazine in real life. Our summer issue is all about the ‘Retro Future,’ so we’ll explore those themes in our programming and we might do a Skype call with an astronaut one night.”

Photo by Andrew Boyle/The Wonder.

Although it is not a retail space, The Wonder aims to provide value to its members through carefully chosen brand partnerships. It currently offers a stroller detailing service that allows parents to have their strollers deep-cleaned while they play, courtesy of a partnership with Dyson.

Morales, who previously headed up designer collaborations and influencer marketing at Target, envisions brand partnerships playing a larger role in the future: “Dyson is our major technology hardware partner. Then we have other partners who come in as products, such as Stokke and Beautycounter. Programming is a huge opportunity for us down the road, too. For example, our demographic is moms, so we can do programming around wellness or aging and have Beautycounter host that with us. It’s an opportunity for these brands to come in.”

In order to refine their offerings and ensure that The Wonder is meeting the needs of its members, the establishment has enlisted a Director of Member Experience with a hospitality background. “She's on the floor every day, interacting with members, making sure everyone's having a good time, taking that feedback and internalizing it among the corporate teams, so we can figure out what to do,” Robinson said. “Our member base is a vocal crew. I'm sure they'll let us know!” They will also form a Kid Advisory Board so that children can share their feedback as well.

Robinson added, “I think one of the unique things about this business is that because we're a membership club, not retail, we're not transactional, so we have this direct relationship with our members. We're able to understand their taste preferences in real time in order to determine what is bringing wonder for them.”

Although they’ve just opened their first space in Tribeca, Robinson and Morales are already envisioning how they can expand to serve the needs of parents in other New York neighborhoods and beyond. “We have a major expansion plan. We'll build the next couple in New York, so that they're close by. We'll go back to the template and make sure that it's all going according to plan and that we're preserving the experience for members,” said Robinson.

Given that The Wonder has already raised $2 million in seed funding from angel investors, including Marissa Mayer, Female Founders Fund, Brand Foundry, Red Sea and Rebecca Minkoff, it seems likely that there will be more ‘Wonder-ful’ things in store.

Photo by Andrew Boyle/The Wonder.

The Wonder


Lead image: Andrew Boyle, The Wonder.

PSFK was invited to preview The Wonder, a newly opened members-only club in the Tribeca neighborhood of New York City that is designed to serve as a third space for families. For a monthly membership fee, parents and their children can gather, participate in events and workshops and connect with each other as well as the larger community.

Although there has been a spate of members' clubs opening in recent years, the co-founders of The Wonder, Sarah Robinson and Noria Morales, felt that there were not any spaces that were designed specifically for families. “There was nothing engaging for parents. I felt desperate for a sense of community. There were a lot of community spaces and third spaces forming, yet none of them were for families,” Robinson told PSFK.