Inside Norwood: NYC's Exclusive Members-Only Arts & Culture Club

Being accepted into New York City's most elite private clubs requires either being blessed with a prominent last name, or at the very least a semi-decent reputation and enough money to not flinch at their astronomical annual dues. Then there's Norwood, a highly selective members-only club that reserves its exclusivity and cushy digs for those it feels are crucial to the creative community. 

We recently got a behind-the-scenes look at the Norwood's decadent clubhouse inside an unassuming 14th street brownstone. If you can convince a member to bring you along some time, we highly recommend it.

There are no tips or tricks to getting in, since their selection process is naturally kept secret. However, according to the membership application (which anyone can download right here), you'll need to validate your involvement in the "creative arts," and tick off some major accomplishments. It also doesn't hurt to have a good relationship with a current member or two. 

Since the goal is to cultivate a robust community of influential creative types (rather than, say, power-lunching Wall Streeters), dues are kept relatively low for its reported 1,100 members. Norwood charges an $800 joining fee plus $2,000 in annual dues, though if you're under 30 you qualify for a reduced rate.

The club was founded in 2007 by owner Alan Linn, whose experience running trendy members-only clubs in the UK inspired him to establish one here in the states. The idea was to set up an actual house where filmmakers, artists, musicians, writers, designers, actors, and their contemporaries could come together in a comfortable environment. The anti-stuffy gentlemen's club, in a sense.

To do it, they purchased the historic brick brownstone in Chelsea—built in 1845 for the wealthy merchant Andrew Norwood—and transformed it into a cozy HQ.

The five-floor spread was transformed into a modest palace by Simon Costin, a renowned set designer who's worked on runway shows for a who's who of fashion brands including Gucci, Margiela, Lanvin, and YSL.

Each room was given a fresh look and distinct purpose, like the bright and airy lounge you see here. They could have gutted the place to create bigger spaces to congregate, but instead they chose to embrace and incorporate old-school details, including 13 marble fireplaces, ornate ceiling molding, and a stained glass window above the winding staircase. 

The Salon upstairs is a dark red room oozing with Moroccan kasbah vibes and one of the pad's three different bars. Creativity is best tapped via free-flowing booze, duh. 

The Club Room is Norwood's 50-seat restaurant, which boasts a seasonal American menu. Though for more intimate affairs, members can also reserve the private 24-seat dining room downstairs. Once a month, the club invites a random crew of members to dine together there to get to know one another better and spitball ideas to make the club even better. 

Considering its clientele, the club's calendar of special events is decidedly A-list. At night, the place regularly transforms into a venue for DJs and bands, as well as the backdrop for book launches, and fashion shows. On the top floor they even have their own 60-seat screening room, which when needed, doubles as a large dining room.

And when the weather cooperates, the good times can spill out onto the walled-in backyard patio, decked out with paper lanterns and ivy.

The perks of membership don't end once you've left the building though, or even NYC. Norwood has reciprocity with similar clubs in cities around the world including London, Dublin, Budapest, Toronto, Buenos Aires, and Shanghai.

Joe McGauley is a senior editor at Supercompressor, and will pay you handsomely in compliments if you can score him a Norwood membership.