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Gemma Boner

An interview with content director Gemma Boner.

December, 2021

We chat with Gemma Boner, Content Director for private members’ club Soho-House. Connecting and collaborating with some of the country's best industry creatives, Gemma showcases the diverse talent of Soho House members through innovative content and brand strategy.

With an aspirational career, full of events, photoshoots and shows, Gemma talks us through what it’s like to work for the world’s most converted club and how visiting their exclusive, design-led venues have inspired her space, at home.

Your job history is certainly exciting, could you tell us a little about yourself and your career journey?

It was around 2006 that I moved to London and started work at Topman as their Press Officer. I worked my way up over 10 years, at which point menswear was really taking off. We were showing at London fashion week and partaking in lots of amazing collaborations. It was a really exciting time and probably why I stayed there for so long. Then, when Jane Sheperdson, who used to run topshop, decided to launch Whistles, I left Topman to go and work for her. This was a great opportunity to be part of starting a brand.

In around 2018, the landscape of traditional PR was changing quite rapidly; magazines were closing down and print media was declining. I thought, if there was ever the chance to try something new, it was then. Ironically, an old boss and friend had forwarded me a position at Soho House - a brand that I had admired and had in fact worked with along the way. It was kind of one of those serendipitous moments. I remember meeting the previous Members Director to talk through the job spec and thinking, this is so me! My passion is meeting people, connecting and collaborating. If someone had told me 15 years ago that was a job, I wouldn't have believed them! But Soho House gave me the opportunity to do just that and I’ve never looked back since.

My role has changed though, diversifying from Membership Director into Membership and Communications Director, which encompassed everything from marketing to events. The move to Content Director happened over lockdown, when I was working on creating content to keep members engaged. The company realised content was something I was passionate about and soon appointed me the position.

What does your current role as Soho House and Co’s Content Director involve and how does this differ from previous positions?

I have always produced content along the way. Even in PR roles, I’ve been lucky enough to work on lookbooks, photoshoots and collaborations. Though, content has never been the main focus. Now, I can deep dive and concentrate on it purely.

My role is really about elevating our members, and showcasing their talent. We’ve got such an amazing set of members and this means there is a diverse talent pool for us to tap into. But Soho House is constantly changing. We’re always exploring different ways to present content and push the boundaries of what kind. For example, the app itself has changed so much. Just as I was going on maternity leave, we were launching Soho Rooms, which gives live access to our offering. So the role itself is ever-changing and I’m learning everyday.

Have you had any particular highlights? Which shoots or projects have been your favourite so far?

It’s so hard to choose a favourite! I loved launching Whistles Men’s as it gave me a project to work on from start to finish - Identifying who the customer was and what we wanted the brand to be.

With Soho House, we are quite discrete when we set up projects. For 180 The Strand, we didn’t release any images or previews. Instead, I created a video with our members and committee to give a sneak peak into the club. When we launched on Instagram, people were really surprised as they hadn't seen anything before.

I’ve also really enjoyed working with our members. I worked on a project with The ATS boys behind Audio Coming Soon over lockdown. They created a series which we filmed in all of our different studios. This has led to further projects, like a pool party takeover, DJ events and interviews. We’ve also conducted a project with a member called ​​Tejumola Butler Adenuga (@butlerarchives) , who is a multidisciplinary artist. One of his major talents is creating pieces for the home, so we filmed him making these sculptural lamps in the shop window of our new Soho Home store. All of these projects have had a knock on effect, evolving from one another - this has really been a highlight of the role.

How would you describe Soho House style?

Many would instantly think of mid-century modern. Yet, I’d say they are now very eclectic. Each house has its own personality. Each house reflects its surroundings, so the style is different around the world. Soho House Rome and Paris have just opened, which are next-level chic. I have had a sneak peak into Brighton too, which has some fun style treats in store. The in-house design team doing this is phenomenal. Their eye for detail and the way they tap into and develop new trends is amazing. They really set the standard.

From your experience directing, planning and working on shoots for some of the most exclusive Soho House venues, how would you define a best-in-class interior?

It has to be authentic and have integrity. Many would try to copy ‘a look’, but unless you’ve designed an interior from start to finish and really understood why you’ve chosen certain pieces, you can risk a place looking reproduced. There’s a lot of venues now that are ‘of the moment’ and ‘Instagrammable’, but this phases out. Best in-class should have longevity; to have an elevated feel, interiors need to be able to stand the test of time.

Are there any interiors in London you find particularly inspiring?

180 The Strand has stolen my heart. The original 70’s pieces are just amazing. It’s one of those places that begs you to dress-up, stay out until the sun comes up and drink picantes on the terrace.

I haven't been out as much as usual, with lockdown and a newborn, but there are a few spaces I’ve been following on Instagram that I’m eager to visit when I can. Sessions House and their new space, Sessions Art Club looks really good.. And Nomad’s big dining room looks very exciting.

How has your career journey and exposure to great places inspired your space, at home?

It makes me constantly want to re-decorate! I bought my house 4 years ago, and it was done out really nicely. But as the years go on and I visit new places, my taste changes. It’s very difficult to not want to keep updating my home, so instead I keep adding one or two new pieces, or changing parts, like the colour of the walls.

What is your personal style? Would you say this aligns to that of Soho Houses’ mid-century design?

I do have a lot of mid-century pieces that align to the original Soho House look, but I do think my taste has changed with the brand. So my style is definitely eclectic, with a mixture of high-end and high-street. I’ve seen the new Soho Home collection, and I’m just obsessed with it! But I definitely can’t have everything from Soho Home.

Deep dive in your bedroom (and your newborns’). How do you like the space to feel and how did you go about choosing some of the key elements?

I would love my spaces to feel tranquil, which can sometimes be a little difficult. Though I do make sure the bedroom and Aries’ room are serene, clutter-free environments. Aries’ room is very neutral, with creams and beiges, and the toy chaos is left downstairs. I chose crisp, white bedding, from beddable, for the bedroom too, which gives a calming effect.

Though, I have been on the hunt for the perfect pillow and found them when I stayed at The Addresses in Portugal. They had some beautiful, huge, comfy pillows that I need to find out where they’re from!

Given the beautiful pieces in your home, can you recommend any hidden shops or places you go-to to find furniture or home accessories?

I follow many on Instagram. One is Bauwerk Paint (@bauwerkcolour), I love their texture and design posts. I found the picture I have in my bathroom by a photographer called Richard Gaston through this page. I really like shopping this way, going from profile to profile on Instagram, and finding myself in a hole of home inspiration that I never knew.

There’s also another new interiors page called @escolhido.co, run by Jade Passey that features beautiful ceramics. They do collaborations with designers and independent artists from all over the world. Instagram really allows you to find and learn about new people.

Do you look for Soho House standard, in terms of luxury when furnishing your own home?

I love original pieces, so I spend a lot of time looking on Ebay. I found quite a few mid-century pieces from there, like my chairs from Germany and an original Banana rocking chair. It had seen better days, but because the structure was well-built, I had it upholstered by the Stringer Brothers, who do fantastic boucle makeovers.. It’s now my rocking chair of dreams. I look for classic pieces like this, that are made well and stand the test of time.

How about your bedding? Do you favour quality fabrics?

Yes, I like my bedding to be super neutral so it lasts - I tend to go for whites. It needs to be comfy and easy to maintain. Washed-cotton fabric means I don’t have to spend time ironing and I can throw it on without too much effort. When I put my Beddable bedding set on, my husband, who doesn't usually notice house changes, said ‘it was like sleeping on a cloud!’

Since comfortable bedding can impact on sleep, how does a quality night's sleep affect your work-day ahead?

Sleep is so important. With a newborn especially, every second counts. So my bed needs to be my sanctuary. If I’m tired, I don’t feel switched on. As a mum and a working professional, if I’m not switched on, I’m not giving my best. I am a big fan of being in comfy bedding, with my eye mask on and being able to easily drift off into a great night’s sleep.

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