February 17, 2016
Filson’s New Seattle Headquarters Is a Temple to Flannel
￼The legendary outfitter’s new headquarters is a temple to flannel.
Founded in 1897, Filson makes the lumberjack’s apparel of choice. In November, the brand moved into its new digs.
All photography courtesy Laura Swimmer
Set against Seattle’s vibrant tech scene, Filson’s 6,500-square-foot Sodo flagship store is a total anachronism—exactly the tone its designers had aimed to achieve. Local architecture firm Heliotrope worked with a team of craftsmen—cabinetmakers and carpenters, metalworkers, and a blacksmith—to transform a century-old former saw blade factory into the new retail space, which emphasizes the brand’s history as a clothier for prospectors on their way to the Klondike Gold Rush.
“It’s upstairs and out of sight, on a street with very few adjacent shops,” says Mike Mora of Heliotrope. “We tried to turn that to our advantage and make visiting the store an experience of discovery—a sense of transportation to another place and time.”
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To achieve this passage back in history, the architects looked to various points along the Pacific Northwest’s cultural trajectory: Jack London’s The Call of the Wild, Victorian-era museums, the photographs of Darius Kinsey. They also studied Filson’s emphasis on craftsmanship, as is evident in the structural and aesthetic details. Barn doors made of hand-oiled reclaimed wine vats, with custom bronze handles, lead the way inside, where the design team retained the original metal-truss roof and styled the walls with a palette of burnt woods and heavy black wainscoting. A 19-foot hand-carved totem greets visitors in the foyer, while a wood-burning fireplace adds to the cabin-like ambience.
The erstwhile factory also houses Filson’s corporate headquarters and manufacturing facilities; the latter, thanks to the expansive glass windows that look into the sewing room, are in full view. Given Seattle’s place as the tech industry’s second city, these homespun, rustic flourishes provide a convincing counterpoint to the trappings of the digital world.