Produced by Meghan McNeer

Published on May 9, 2019

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Remember those indoor “fun zones” your parents used to take you to when you were young? If you thought you were still traumatized by memories of sticky plastic slides and rowdy ball pits, think about your parents. You know, the people who sat on child-size chairs and picked pizza crumbs from your hair out of sheer love for you? Sarah Robinson used to be one of those parents. But then, she had a revelation while her son was playing under a rainbow parachute.

“I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, this is what we did in the ’80s.’ It hadn’t evolved at all. I was counting down the minutes until I could get out of there,” she recalls. “Then I thought, there’s such an opportunity here to engage the parents as well as the kids.”

That’s when Robinson teamed up with fellow mom of two and friend Noria Morales. Together, the pair created The Wonder, a color-charged space in New York’s Tribeca neighborhood rooted in design and dynamic family programming. “When you become a parent, you don’t change your identity fundamentally. You’re still the person who likes to go and have a glass of wine or go to an art show,” says Morales. “Traditionally, those experiences have been polarized.”

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The Wonder hopes to bridge the gap between ages. Both a playground for children and adults, the 8,000-square-foot outpost features sets that change seasonally (the current outer space theme includes a rocket ship slide and a retro space-age kitchen that would make Wes Anderson proud). There’s also a parents-only lounge, classrooms, a zen nursery, and a cafe that serves more than just French fries. There’s even a space where you can drop off your stroller to have it detailed while you take a kid-led slime-making class or play a game of family charades with investor and member Rebecca Minkoff.

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Drawing on their backgrounds in the fashion industry, Morales and Robinson brought their seasoned eye for color, shape, and texture to the design of the space. Though, they both admit striking the right balance was surprisingly challenging. “It was hard. We had to be elevated for the grown-ups but also fun and playful for the kids. If you go too chic, you lose the joy. If you go too joyful, it’s just a rebrand of any other kids’ space,” shares Robinson. “We really wanted to preserve that bilingual design language.”

The duo broke with tradition by playing with saturation, scale, and unconventional shapes. “We kept landing on this idea of audacious juxtaposition,” says Morales. The wavy blue Pierre Paulin Osaka sofas near the reading nook proved to be a point of harmony. “That’s a fancy couch, but it feels like a jigsaw puzzle, and the kids can crawl all over it.”

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With the exception of the parents-only lounge, The Wonder is a completely analog space (meaning no cell phone usage). Parents are encouraged to unplug and enjoy quality time with their little ones without the distraction of their inbox.

“The times that you truly have fun with your children are when your phone is away and you let yourself be a kid again,” explains Morales. “Kids can sense it. They just want to play with you, and when you play, it’s a natural de-stresser. That’s the environment we want to create here.”

You can find more about The Wonder programming and becoming a member on their site.  

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