Norn: Building Multicultural Communities Inspired By Academic Research
Norn is helping build communities and spur thoughtful conversations in cultural hubs around the globe. While co-living is a part of what they do, as they operate a network of spaces where people can live on a month-to-month basis, they also consider themselves a travel brand.
The idea for Norn came from Founder Travis Hollingsworth’s adventures in working around the world and his persistent desire to experience local culture beyond the confines of a hotel room where you can experience isolation from the local experience and other people.
“I was just trying to live somewhere more interesting than a hotel,” Hollingworth said. “That, combined with emotional intelligence development, is roughly how I developed the brand. We believe it’s a very organic and very intentional way of living as we try to create a culture of investing and contributing to the community. In the end, it creates a more functional way of living your daily life.”
The philosophy behind the brand borrows heavily from a course at Stanford that’s been nicknamed the “Touchy-Feely class.” It is a course where people sit once a week for many hours together in a group of 15 and are graded on their honesty and vulnerability. Through facilitators, people are able to talk about their emotions by building a framework around how you express yourself and provide feedback.
According to Hollingsworth, this format is all about “building the emotional intelligence of leaders,” and Norn works to recreate the same atmosphere for residents and members. Members don’t live at Norn’s spaces in Berlin, London, Barcelona and San Francisco, but they’re subscribers to the programming that available at their facilities, including salons, talks and dinners.
Residents, on the other hand, stay on-property for at least a month. They help build an atmosphere that Hollingsworth believes allows people to be more “open to serendipitous moments when you come home in the evening and talk about your day.” This unique programming is what separates the brand from its competitors.
“For me, this is about the way people move across cities, and co-living is an interesting way to start bringing people together, but it’s not the end,” Hollingworth told the Lab. “We’re not approaching this from a real estate perspective, we’re a lifestyle brand. We’re interested in how people meet, and co-living is only a part of what we do.”
Norn was founded in the summer of 2017 and was named after the Norse goddesses of fate. The founder believes the name expresses the spirit of his concept: Where fate meets intentional living. “When you travel, you give yourself up to fate, and the Norns created an environment where there was free will but they also had some external involvement in mortals’ lives,” Hollingsworth said.
Right now they have not announced any plans to expand, but Hollingsworth says they’re testing a lot of different concepts in their spaces that they could take to other cities.
“It’s more about listening to what people find valuable,” Hollingworth told us. “We’ve been testing ways to draw people together. We continue to test lots of things, and we’re moving in a couple of different directions. We’re actively listening to our members and residents to figure out next steps.”
For more information on Norn, including on how to apply to be a resident or a member, visit norn.co