Many of today's vegetable-canning, Kombucha-making, Kinfolk-toting campers are outdoorsy and design-minded. Modern camping is done in style—and if you can't wrap your mind around that, Ben Masters will kindly show you how.
Masters is the founder of Scout Seattle, an American-made purveyor of well-designed camping gear on the order of organic selvage denim field beds with japanese chambray interior lining, horween leather traveling boots with waxed cotton laces, and excellent single-blade pocket knives that—six more shopping days til Father's Day, folks—we think your dad would really dig. When Masters creates he's thinking about functionality, simplicity, relevance to the outdoor enthuisiast, and last but not least the aesthetic.
Shop Talk: What neighborhood is your studio in?
Masters: I moved into our current Madison Valley space in July 2012. I started operating as a design studio until the launch of our online shop in January 2013 when we then shifted the space into inventory and shipping control for the business. I love the neighborhood. It has a fantastic strip of restaurants and is a hot spot for French cuisine. There’s an economically elevated and style conscious crowd here that understands our product and that has been a really rewarding experience.
What is your earliest memory of designing?
When I was young I went camping in my backyard in my dad's old red pup tent and really fell in love with the outdoors. Around the age of twelve I really started thinking about ways I could modify and change the style of the camping gear I was using.
What do you do to get yourself in a creative or productive headspace when you’re feeling stuck?
Taking photographs and looking through photo albums never ceases to promote inspiration (check out photo series of Scout's outdoor adeventures online). Cleaning and maintaining an open space always clears the mind mentally and physically. And exercising on a regular basis.
Five things you can’t work without:
Pen and Paper: It’s tactile and there’s nothing between me and that medium.
Music: It’s always where I start and can get easily inspired. Most recently I’ve been listening to the new James Blake album.
My wife: She’s an amazing counterpart. She keeps me motivated and we put in some solid teamwork.
Clean space: I just can’t work in a messy environment.
Cup of coffee: To start the morning.
What's your favorite thing about your studio?
The atmosphere. I love the amount of natural light that comes into the studio; it's great to work under especially on a sunny Seattle day.
Where can we find your outdoor gear and where would you like us to find it in the future?
We are currently fully operating as an online store but drop-ins to our studio are strongly encouraged. If you’re going out of town you can find our product at Shelter Half in LA and Fable and Folly in London. We are also looking to expand our product into the Japanese and Australian markets so stay tuned.