If you’re a member of the Loong Swim Club in Suzhou, China, taking your kids for a dip in the pool feels a little like stepping into Alice’s looking glass. Every inch of the 2,400 square foot space, designed by the Shanghai-based architecture firm X+Living, is designed to spur wonder: Over the pool itself, there are large lamps designed to look like water droplets hanging from above and, at times, the Club will allow a gentle mist to rise above the water, so swimmers feel like they are in some sort of fairy-tale lagoon.
Here in the United States, we’ve seen a rise in beautifully designed members-only spaces that are exclusive and expensive to join. Last month, I described the launch of The Wonder, a gorgeous children’s club that is backed by Marissa Mayer and Rebecca Minkoff. The Loong Swim Club suggests that the idea of high-end social clubs for the whole family is taking off worldwide.
The architecture firm behind the swim club, X+Life, founded by Li Xiang, has played a big role in creating stunning immersive retail and club spaces throughout China. My colleague recently described a bookstore that the company designed in Chongqing, China, as the “most majestic” he had ever seen, and a half-impossible M.C. Escher vision come to life.
At Loong, the space is thoughtfully designed to be relaxing and pleasurable for all members of the family. Parents can observe their children’s swimming lessons from a reading area with a window into the pool. The space, which is meant to be quiet and peaceful, contains bookshelves and cushioned sofas, where people can lounge. There is also a restaurant that boasts a play area with a gigantic egg-like structure that children can explore while their caregivers have tea. Even the more functional spaces have a fantastical flair. For instance, the locker rooms are peppered with bold, black-and-white ottomans.
But my favorite spot is the baby changing area. There are large changing stations with sinks and cushioned changing pads, with large pastel lamps hanging from above like mobiles. It’s a touch that makes even the messiest, least pleasurable aspects of parenting seem delightful.