Danforth Pewter, Portland
For more than 40 years, Danforth Pewter has been hand-crafting pewter products rooted in simplicity and functionality. Their process is part of a greater narrative of traditional Vermont makers, but it’s been lost to consumers in the modern age of mass-production. Their new store in Portland, Maine, was an opportunity to better communicate their story to customers. We collaborated with them to create a space that tells that story, and reflects the way that they have continued to apply their ancient craft in modern times.
This job was the first where we had the opportunity to help a company rebrand themselves through their retail design. The challenge was to modernize without straying too far from the brand’s traditional process and values. We took a tour of their factory in Middlebury Vermont, where they truly handcraft every individual pewter product. An incredible amount of care goes into each piece, and we love that our work with local businesses allows us opportunities to see things like that firsthand. We were particularly inspired by the founder’s personal workbench, and wanted to recreate that in subtle ways to really embody a hand-crafted feel. After the tour, we more fully understood their process and could then translate it to customers in the physical design of the space.
The space for the retail store already had a lot of character, so we focused on introducing elements that evoked the brand’s workmanship, and refined built-in aspects of the space to offer more flexibility. The existing features we needed to adapt were two large columns in the middle of the space, and three large windows that took up an entire wall. We wrapped the post in bent steel to display smaller products that could be hung on magnets. For the windows, we created custom adjustable shelves that could be moved to accommodate a various products as displays changed.
We included many antique and reclaimed objects throughout the space to lend touches of authenticity to the interior. Whitewash shiplap offers a nice contrast with elements such as an antique floor grate we fashioned to hang jewelry and other products, again offering lots of flexibility for the ever-changing displays.We also built a replica of an antique key locker to hold the hundreds of key chains Danforth makes. The case allows Danforth to display many different styles at once, and easily swap them out for seasonal product changes.
We really enjoyed the challenge of translating Danforth’s handcrafted process into a retail experience for their customers. Our design has helped them solidify their brand identity and better communicate their story, while also remaining functional and flexible to accommodate their ever-changing product line and seasonal displays. ∆