By: Deme Kopulos
You haven’t seen the best views in Chicago, until you’ve seen them through Jason Peterson’s lens. Whether on his iPhone or Cannon 5D, his Instagram page, home to over 260,000 followers, is truly one of the best ways to take in the city. It’s this overwhelming creative energy, aesthetic and love for Chicago that likely drew Soho House to the Havas Worldwide Chicago Chief Creative Officer. The ideal creative advertising lead on the project is also a good representation of the type of members Soho House is notoriously comprised of. With it’s founding in 1995 in London and a history and mission to bring together all styles of creative and innovative professionals in an exclusive and sophisticated members-only space, Soho House Chicago opens August 11th, located in West Loop claiming home to the original Chicago Belting Factory.
“To me I think that’s kind of the essence of what the SoHo House is supposed to be. To bring together interesting cool creative people in an environment where it’s about sharing ideas. For me, it’s awesome, because it’s kind of what we do at my job. It’s kind of the perfect project and perfect place. In New York I’d gone to Soho House a couple times early on when it first launched. In London it’s very much around the creative media, advertising, kind of marketing community versus the Wallstreet crowd, which nothing against those guys, it’s just a different conversation. I think they’ve done a good job, of what I’ve heard, to shift it to a more creative community,” said Peterson.
Although Soho House calls New York, West Hollywood and Miami home, to name a few, a large aspect of creating new homes across the country and globe is paying attention to local culture of their locations, while giving members the comfort of a home away from home in some of the most exciting cities in the world. Every house contains Cowshed spa, cinema, restaurants and various amenities, and Chicago is no exception. The house will feature 35 bedrooms, a full sized pool, courtyard and a glass enclosed rooftop and bar and kitchen. A 15,000 sq foot gym with a professional boxing ring is just one of the ways Soho House is embracing Chicago culture and integrating local favorites into their brand. Soho House choosing Chicago as their latest development speaks to the city’s presence on the map in a major way. Peterson, who moved to the city a few years ago is inspired by it everyday.
“I knew Chicago had great food and really great music before I moved here. I never really knew everything else around it, especially on the fashion side and technology side. The amount of creativity here that’s really an unassuming, Midwestern point of view, is amazing. That’s what I really love. I always had a hard time with creativity and creative people when there’s a lot of pretension involved in it. When it’s like what’s in it for me and I’m so cool, it doesn’t matter. To me that gets in the way of sharing creative ideas because all the egos get in the way and people get hurt and I’m just like, I don’t want to deal with that. I think that Chicago has this, like I’ve literally experienced it on a weekly basis, this amazing creative community that’s open to sharing and more about the creating of the work than the bullshit that goes along with it,” said Peterson.
Although having worked with some of the biggest brand names globally like Coca-Cola, MTV and Reebok, Peterson stays humble and always seems to be focused on working toward future endeavors, instead of dwelling on some of the greatest hits of his portfolio. He shares the same perspective that makes Chicago such a fantastic hub for emerging talent and artists in any field. It’s this type of persona and lifestyle that entices global entities like Soho House to take up residence in the 3rd largest market in the country.
As an introduction to the city, Soho House and Peterson collaborated on a list of creative and influential individuals and their favorite places in the city to spotlight through videos and still photos. Photographer and designer Nathan Michael, rapper Hollywood Holt, chocolate artisan Katrina Markoff, Glossed & Found creative and editorial director Graham Kostic and Peterson are all featured in the 15 second videos and still photos for Soho House, with a longer 2-4 minute long video being released later this week to promote the house opening as a soon to be favorite among some of the cities most artistic minds.
“All of the videos were directed and shot by me and a small crew. I shoot everything either on my iPhone or Cannon 5D on my personal Instagram and Tumblr feeds. They wanted that same kind of aesthetic to it and that’s how I did it. I used the opportunity to expand on it a little bit more with video, we shot some stuff from helicopters. I spent a little time talking with each one of the people they settled in and talked to them about what their favorite neighborhood is, where they’re from, and where they find their creative inspiration so I tailored it to each person based on that and brought it in to the black and white graphic style I shoot all my stuff in,” said Peterson.
One of Peterson’s driving reasons for working with the exclusive brand of homes, was an artistic connection. Peterson has over 20 years of experience in television, print, interactive advertising, and brand identity. He also has no problem turning down brands that have a single minded motivation to sell, sell, sell to followers. Peterson prefers to take on creative projects that produce relevant content for users and refuses to assault the audience with a rapid fire of meaningless posts and hashtags. Even before his work with Soho House, he identified with the way they conduct social media.
“I think they retain a level of sophistication and settleness to everything they do, which is critical to me, I get approached by brands all the time and I turn most of them down because it’s 90 percent of advertising and marketing is trying to oversell you and I don’t want to be associated with that. It’s that ten percent of stuff that really gets and understands you, that as an agency at Havas is what our goal and ambition is. Me as a creative person, that’s what I want to be associated with as well. The Soho House goals and ambitions exactly matched up with mine about celebrating the amazing creative things that are going on in Chicago, so I was like perfect, I’m in, where do I sign?” said Peterson
With what seems to be an endless list of reasons for residents and travelers alike to be excited for the opening of Soho House, Peterson is looking forward to the artistic motivation behind the house and getting to know fellow innovators in the city.
Photo Credit: Jason Peterson