New Retail

New Store: West Elm

New store’s creative director says it’s all about the mix.

By Laura Cassidy October 3, 2011

New West Elm store opens in South Lake Union on Thursday October 6 at 10.

On Thursday October 6, a new but well-known home furnishings brand will debut in South Lake Union.

Although the 15,000 sq foot 2201 Westlake Ave location (the retail-specialists at Callison served as architects) is West Elm’s first and only brick-and-mortar in town, some Seattleites are already familiar with the web- and catalog-based lifestyle brand. And some others aren’t.

We chatted with Vanessa Holden, West Elm’s creative director (and, we might as well mention, the former Editor in Chief of Martha Stewart Living), about the high/low mixed/matched approach to home decor.

WWW: If you had to sum up the West Elm look in five words, which would you use?
Holden: Soulful, Eclectic, Global, Functional, Approachable

In Seattle, we have lots of Craftsmen homes, lots of mid-century homes, and—like the building in which the new store will sit—lots of new construction condos. Can you share with us the West Elm philosophy on mixing genres, eras, and design periods? What design periods does West Elm draw from and what is your personal approach to including varied references in one’s home?
Varied references are what make a home exciting, personal, and meaningful. Really it’s you who should dictate your home’s décor, not necessarily the stylings of your environment or a specific era or design style. We’re of the belief that if you surround yourself with products you love, regardless of whether they are defined as “modern” or “mid-century” or “traditional” they will have a point of view, and that point of view is you. We try to offer a mix of styles, materials, textures, colors, prints, patterns, and silhouettes, so that the customer can work among, and with, our product to discover their personal style. For us, it’s all about the mix.

Why Seattle, and why now? Tell us a little about why West Elm is coming to town.
We’ve been looking for the perfect location in Seattle for a while. We have loyal customers through our catalog and website who have been telling us they want a store! Now we have the opportunity to service these customers in a new way, and introduce new customers to our brand. South Lake Union seems to be emerging as a design hub for the city and we are thrilled to be a part of that.

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