By EMMA HINCHLIFFEA/E Editor
Photos by Kevin Scott
Porter launched in 2019 with a mission to service corporate commercial clients with decor, furniture, design services and inspiration for their work and office spaces. The company recently opened The Shop by Porter, a unique hybrid office/shopping/hospitality experience at 1201 Second Ave., Suite 100, in the ground level of the 2+U building in Seattle’s Central Business District.
Part office, part co-working space, part coffee shop, part bar and part retail experience, The Shop was created for Porter’s workforce, designers, architects and clients but also for members of the public who are invited to come in and enjoy the bar and cafe, which offers a small European inspired food menu.
In addition to the cafe and bar areas, The Shop has six work/meeting spaces — all of which are rentable. There is also a retail area showcasing furnishings and goods from artists in Porter’s Makers Program – which spotlights women and BIPOC owned businesses and creators – and a fabrics gallery where commercial clients can thumb through an inventory of colors and finishes for their spaces. The Shop also sells wine. Work areas are kitted out with the latest tech. Plush heavy drapes and a retractable perspex wall provide a way to partition-off some areas at times when The Shop is particularly busy to facilitate focused work.
Unsurprisingly, the 4,000-square-foot space is thoughtfully appointed with curated art and furnishings that show off what Porter can do for its clients. There is a mix of seating areas and colors and a blend of furnishing types from a living room inspired area to high-top bar-style seating. Almost everything you see at The Shop is shop-able (for both commercial clients and members of the public) with gift tags attached to many of the products. Graham Baba Architects designed the space which also includes original art pieces by Electric Coffin. MRJ Construction was the general contractor.
Moving forward, Porter said that there will be a gradual, constant reset of the public facing areas of The Shop to spotlight new maker products.
On a recent visit to The Shop, it was busy and buzzing with a diverse mix of people enjoying its hybrid offerings. Members of Porter’s workforce were having a meeting, tourists popped in for a coffee, members of the public were working from their laptops in the cafe area, and a family came in and browsed the retail displays – one worker even had his dog with him. Relaxing music was playing and everyone, including myself, was warmly welcomed. Tying everything together at The Shop is Porter’s guiding ethos of showing and creating what it calls “radical hospitality;” a concept the company says it is committed to in the belief “that welcoming, hospitable environments foster meaningful relationships that last.”
The Shop is perhaps best described as a working example and experience of what Porter strives to create for its clients. “The Shop is a space that builds culture and community and is expressive of the radical hospitality that we show to our clients and that we help them create in their own workspaces,” Kathleen Selke, co-founder of Porter and The Shop, said. It is also intended to be a place for the creative design community to come to, connect with one another, and be inspired.
“We’ve imagined the space that we as creatives are craving right now — a place where you can come to meet, plan, shop, be inspired, gather, have a fabulous meal, a great cup of coffee, or an afternoon cocktail. You can stay for an hour, or book a meeting space for a day. We’ve reinvented the experience of specifying commercial furniture by wrapping it into a welcoming and familiar retail/hospitality environment and adding food and beverage,” Kyle Haakenson, also co-founder of Porter and The Shop, explained. “We already have members of the public coming in to work on a regular basis, one customer calls the space her ‘urban living room,’” Selke added.
The Shop certainly brings something unique to Seattle’s Central Business District and to the world of corporate commercial design and interiors at a time when the city is emerging from the pandemic and companies are navigating return to office in a drastically altered landscape. It strikes me that both the company and space are well positioned to take advantage of this moment and in particular of the shifts that we are seeing towards more thoughtfully designed office environments that prioritize worker health and comfort. The Shop by Porter is open Tuesday through Friday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Porter is part of the One Workplace family of brands.