PLATFORM

Ace of Clubs

by Marc Almagro
Portrait photography by Chino Sardea
14 Sep 2017

With 1880, entrepreneur Marc Nicholson promises to start meaningful conversations among like-minded members in a well-conceived and executed environment

The members-only club, 1880, will be launched in October, would like to attract people who are able to contribute to meaningful conversations, a desirable if unwieldy qualification that is difficult to impose much less detect.

But club co-founder Marc Nicholson is confident they will be able to bring in the right crowd: “We have a membership committee responsible for curating a diverse community of members who represent the collective brains of creativity, drive and passion,” he said in an email. With carefully thought out activities and club facilities his goals does not sound far fetched.

The club will welcome “those with that twinkle in their eye, and a child-like sense of wonder,” Marc continues. “Among their many attributes are curiosity, integrity, creativity, individuality and authenticity. They are adventure-seekers who are not bound by the dictates of wealth and status, but by the notion that it is the journey that matters. Together, they are driven to influence the growth and development of society.”

  • TRUE GRIT
  • SELECT AND CRAFTED
  • CAN WE TALK
  • MEMBERS AND PERKS

True Grit

While his vision may sound whimsical – abstract nouns after all are rare in membership recruitment drives –Marc possesses the grit of a seasoned businessman.

More people may perhaps recognize the name Marc Nicholson as the man who launched traditional British men’s groomers Truefitt&Hill in Singapore. When it opened in 2013, just as the hoopla over ‘metrosexuals’ was finally waning, the establishment introduced a ‘proper’ barbershop loaded with an expansive lineup of tonsorial services in the quiet Ann Siang Hill area. The place has a ‘clubby’ atmosphere – think leather barber’s chairs, patterned floor tiles, and millwork walls – and pricier products and services at least where ordinary barbering is concerned.

But Marc, who is a sought-after speaker on thought-change and ‘Idea Sex’, and also co-founder of CreationSG, a non-profit arts organization that helps arts-inclined children, is driven by his passion for “igniting conversations that change the world” that he decided to establish 1880.

  • TRUE GRIT
  • SELECT AND CRAFTED
  • CAN WE TALK
  • MEMBERS AND PERKS

Select and Crafted

Click to next slide

Named for the year that Robertson Quay was built, 1880 will occupy the 22,000 square-foot third floor of Quayside@Robertson Quay along the Singapore River. Following a design concept by Timothy Oulton Studio, it will include an outdoor dining deck, members’ lounge, dining room, spa, grooming facilities, café, bar, cinema and library.

A host of events have been thoughtfully planned to reflect the interests and nature of its members. Common in them are opportunities for people to come together and be inspired. “Past events include an auction of 1880’s most interesting personalities, a sold-out premiere screening of the film India’s Daughter, and a multi-sensorial perfume testing and cocktail tasting.

“Among the benefits made available to members include enrichment programs and investment opportunities, as well as reciprocal arrangements with clubs around the world, concierge services, travel opportunities and amazing experiences,” according to an official communiqué from the club.

1880 has also assembled a team that will be in charge of various service departments, including Executive Chef Colin Buchan, head bartender Rusty Cerven, and music director Aldrin Quek.

1880 is envisioned to champion diversity, ingenuity and global citizenry. “The four pillars of the club are membership, design, events and hospitality,” says Marc, emphasizing that the club will also combine a social club and co-working space.

The latter, named Bardo, from the Tibetan word for an intermediate state, will blur the line between work and life, “perhaps even redefine the somewhat antiquated notion of work- life balance” by seamlessly integrating both concepts within 1880.

  • TRUE GRIT
  • SELECT AND CRAFTED
  • CAN WE TALK
  • MEMBERS AND PERKS

Can We Talk

Is there a dearth of transformative conversations in a cosmopolitan city-state like Singapore? Marc thinks so. “We live in an age of infinite personalization in our news feeds, our social groups, and our work environment. We are facing significant challenges now with major structural shifts to the working economy, and to our moral foundations. The future could be incredibly bright, or not, depending how we respond and evolve.”

Marc believes that bringing together “creative minds, entrepreneurs, visionaries, originals and radicals gives greater potential to the solutions, than to remain inflexible and rigid. It is genuinely about diversity and inclusion, not same-same, social climbing, and status.”

Marc has lived in Singapore for 15 years claims to have had always met interesting people and had meaningful conversations with them purely by chance. “It’s why I wanted to create a hospitality solution that facilitates this.”

He plans to put in place a mechanism that will that will inspire meaningful exchanges among members in your club. “We have an extensive calendar of events that includes the premier of documentary films, talks on artificial intelligence, unique secret suppers, dance events, parties, exhibitions, fund raisers, speaker series. It’s an endless list.

“On a day-to-day basis, we hope people will frequent the club, drawn by the mix of design and hospitality services that we have assembled.”

And a bold design proposition it is. For instance, 1880’s members’ lounge is the Singapore Map Table, which sets out, in brass inlaid onto black marble, what the country will look like in the future. “This is not without grounds,” assures Marc. “The image was obtained from the Urban Redevelopment Authority’s (URA) most recent Concept Plan 2011. You might end up debating with a fellow member you’ve just met on the merits of Urban Redevelopment Authority’s plan, while enjoying a shared passion for an artisanal spirit served at the bar.”

  • TRUE GRIT
  • SELECT AND CRAFTED
  • CAN WE TALK
  • MEMBERS AND PERKS

Members and Perks

Click to next slide

The investors of 1880 include individuals who are affiliated to the club in one way or another: besides Marc, who is the founder, there is Luke Jones who is the chief executive, Timothy Oulton who conceptualized the interior design, Proof & Company who conceptualized the bar program, and RB Capital as landlord and developer of Quayside@RobertsonQuay where 1880 will be located.

A private limited company, 1880 will obtain funds primarily through membership fees, rental of spaces in co-working space Bardo, and revenue from the services including food, drinks, and spa and grooming treatments.

Membership at 1880 is for life. “We will cap our membership number at 2,000,” Marc says. “The plan is to reach this target in year 2022.”

Besides the use of club facilities, members have will enjoy admission to events organized by 1880. Other benefits include enrichment programs and investment opportunities, as well as concierge services, travel opportunities and amazing experiences.

“We have also inked reciprocal agreements with other clubs around the globe,” Marc reveals, “such as the Devonshire Club, and the Capital Club in Dubai, Bahrain, Nairobi and Lagos.”

When 1880 opens, its members will be able to visit The Groucho Club in London and KEE Shanghai. 1880 is currently in negotiation with members’ clubs in London, New York, Chicago, Los Angeles and San Francisco to confirm reciprocal arrangements.