The Northwest heritage brand presents a vintage-inspired space designed to take you back in time.
By Rachel Gallaher
Photographed by Kevin Scott
The New York Filson flagship was designed by Seattle-based Heliotrope Architects and meant to reflect the brand's 124-year-old heritage.
Opened at the end of last year, Filson’s New York flagship brings a dose of the Northwest aesthetic to the Northeast’s biggest city. Designed by Seattle-based Heliotrope Architects, who also worked on the outdoor retailer’s Seattle store, the 4,000-square-foot space occupies an 1800s brownstone near Manhattan’s Union Square and offers an immersive experience based on the brand’s 124-year history.
“The building’s beautiful, and recently refurbished, street façade is of the era that Filson seeks to evoke in its brand presentation—the late 19th century,” says Mike Mora, design principal at Heliotrop. “The interior impacted design only in its volumetric characteristics: double-height space at front, mezzanine at back, which the new Filson store layout abides by.”
The men's products are on the first level, in which Heliotrope constructed a repurposed barn shipped in from Oregon.
Founded in 1897 to meet the needs of prospectors traveling through Seattle on their way to the Klondike Gold Rush, Filson has continued to design, manufacture, and sell men’s and women’s outdoor clothing, accessories, and luggage—all made in America, and guaranteed for life.
Inspired by this ethos, the design team wanted to create a more than just a shopping experience—the architects, builders, and craftspeople all devoted time and energy to building a space that would embody the quality and longevity of Filson products. They started by buying an abandoned barn in Oregon (found for sale online), dismantling it, then shipping the rough-hewn wood siding, posts and beams to Nelson, British Columbia. Here, Spearhead, a digital manufacturing company and specialty fabricator, helped the team conceive of a post-and-beam “barn interior” that was constructed inside the new store’s 18-feet-tall, double-height space. This is the first area costumers experience when walking into the store.
Inside the barn area the team built custom, solid fir and painted-wood display cabinets to showcase the men’s product lines. Mounted to the post-and-beam salvaged wood structure above is a gallery of artifacts including hunting decoys, canoe shells, logging equipment, vintage images and maps, that evoke the qualities of a Darius Kinsey photograph. Corners and walls throughout emanate the feeling of walking into an old prospector’s cabin in the remote wilderness and provide a thrilling sense of escapism.
In the mezzanine, which holds the women's products, a cozy lounge is tucked away in a side nook.
The women’s line is presented on the mezzanine overlooking the barn, and its aesthetic inspired was the sitting room of an old house. A built-in semicircular sofa covered in a deep blue-gray velvet and flanked by two dark-wood rocking chairs offers a place for guests to rest for a bit in a cozy nook. The mezzanine ceilings are coffered in painted wood and smoked-mirror glass, while the floors are salvaged pine from York, Pennsylvania.
According to Mora, the directive from Filson was to “make it look like it was built in 1897.” With work from artists and craftspeople including Aleph Geddis, Abitibi & Co., David Fjeld, and more appearing throughout the store, mixed with curios, antique sporting equipment, and carved animals that combined, the space achieves the packed and exciting feeling of a natural history museum or the attic in a long-lost-relative’s historic house, hitting the request squarely on the nose.
Behind the cashier's desk is a wood carving by Northwest artist Aleph Geddis who was also commissioned for work that appears the Seattle flagship.