Update February 24, 2023: Lawson Flats is now open at 4 Sherwood Court. As well as a one-off $1000 joining fee, memberships come in at $42 per week for people under 30 and $56 per week for members over 30.

“If you have to ask what jazz is, you’ll never know.”

So said trumpeter Louis Armstrong when asked to define the music genre he indelibly shaped. Alessio Fini, creative director of property developers Fini Group, speaks with a similar sense of you-just-know when asked to describe Lawson Flats, a new members’ club that’s opening in the historic art deco Lawson Apartments at the start of 2023.

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“Marketing 101 says you give people that snappy one-liner, but from day one we’ve said we’re not doing that,” says Fini. “It’s not about one thing, it’s about 20 things. It’s about being part of something that’s not your friendship group and not your family. Where divergent views can come together and where you can meet new people. It’s this idea of a third space [between work and home] that really brings everybody in, lets them be seen and then reflects them back out.”

Fini and the rest of Fini Group have form when it comes to bringing people (and a project) together. In 2015, team Fini introduced Perth to State Buildings, the four-year, $110 million project that transformed some of the city’s oldest buildings into a lively food, drink and culture precinct. But whereas State Buildings is underpinned by its polish and understated grandeur, Lawson Flats will be a more unbuttoned prospect: its art program will be anything but classical. Patrick Little of CBD record store Shari-Vari Records will curate the record collection in the music room. The hallways are lined with green carpet.

Since March, Fini Group, alongside architect Patrick Miller of Finespun Architecture and interior designer Jen Lowe of Ohlo Studio, have been transforming the apartment’s first three floors into their shared vision of a contemporary members’ social club. The makeover retains the building’s (many) historic flourishes – the parquetry flooring in the library, say, or the phone room where members will be able to take phone calls in private – but updates the spaces for generation now. Members will be able to work out at two different gym spaces before enjoying a post-workout sauna in the basement. Meeting rooms, working spaces and an in-house cafe are on-hand for digital nomads. Not that it’s all work and no play, of course. A library filled with natural light, restored furniture pieces and interesting things to read is on-hand for R&R. One of the meeting rooms morphs into a karaoke space after dark and as the working day loses its momentum, said cafe slips into wine bar mode.

Speaking of wining and dining, Paul Bentley (Casa, Si Paradiso) has signed on as Lawson Flats’ consulting chef. Named Luis’ after the long-standing French dining room Luis’ Restaurant Classique that used to trade on the apartments’ ground floor – now home to Balthazar – the in-house kitchen will serve an all-day menu of home-style dishes: think breakfast items such as banana bread with whipped ricotta and house-baked goods, as well as high-end ploughman’s boards, thoughtfully composed salads and daily specials. Plant-based eating will be a key part of the offering.

“Luis’ will be a place that guests can use on different levels,” says Bentley. “You can drop by in the morning and have some quiche or a slice of tart for a working breakfast, then come back later in the day and have some charcuterie and a glass of wine.”

In short, Luis’ has a foot in both the health and hedonism camps, just like Lawsons Flat as a whole. While talking about the project, Fini frequently references community and collaboration: two key foundations of any successful club. Equally important is diversity: something he hopes will be reflected in the Lawsons Flats membership.

“We’re subcultural, we’re creative, we’re emergent in creative industries, but we also know how to party,” says Fini. “This isn’t a place where it’s about your money and status. It’s kind of anti-status, in a sense. There might be a really successful creative director talking to a young furniture maker. Or you might be a crypto kid and you’re sitting next to an emerging artist. It doesn’t matter what industry you’re in as long as you share our spirit.”

Lawson Flats (4 Sherwood Court, Perth) is due to open in January 2023 and will open Monday to Saturday from 7am till late. Membership starts from $160 per month and tours will run later in the year for prospective members to view the space.