Journalist and travel writer, Bruce Chatwin famously wrote that Patagonia is “the farthest place to which man walked from his place of origin,” and to this day it retains near-mythical status in the minds of the world’s adventurers. Starting at the 40th Parallel South, a surface area over 800,000 square kilometres, the region known as Patagonia encompasses the southern cone of South America, including parts of both Chile and Argentina. Wedged between the Atlantic and Pacific coasts, the sparsely populated wonder offers a natural feast of rainforests, grasslands, arid deserts, and icy blue glaciers spilling out of the Andes.
Founded by rock climber and environmentalist, Yvon Chouinard in 1973, Patagonia Inc. has become a leading outdoor apparel company based in Ventura, California. Transforming a small meat packing factory into their first retail store in Ventura in the early 1970’s, Patagonia is committed to their sustainability ethos of renovating existing buildings rather than constructing new ones. Built to last with aesthetic appeal, Patagonia strives to build stores that are unique and reflect the history and natural features of their locations. Using only environmentally-sustainable construction materials and fixtures, every step of the construction process is carefully-considered.
Patagonia had three goals for their Victoria build: to incorporate reclaimed materials and utilize construction techniques that align with their corporate sustainability and environmental initiatives, to showcase their commitment to the community with contextual design, and to become Victoria’s destination retail hub for luxury climbing, surfing, and outdoor equipment. The creative team at Patagonia emphasized that specific to the Victoria build they were looking for “an energetic team of creative individuals that could deliver a unique and environmentally sustainable product within both a very aggressive time frame and a cost-conscious budget.”
ARYZE Developments was honoured to be one of two specialized development companies invited to bid on the Patagonia Victoria design-build. Matthew Jardine and Ryan Goodman of ARYZE assembled a proposal that reflected their contemporary west coast aesthetic inclusive of their ability to source unique, hard to find, reclaimed materials. They were short-listed and won the bid. The Patagonia team, added that ARYZE was chosen based on their “high-end craftsmanship and creativity, their strong communication and onsite management skills, and of course, their passion for incorporating reclaimed materials.”
Partnering with upcycling wizards, Hammer and Tidy, ARYZE procured most of the wood for Patagonia from the Royal Victoria Yacht Club in Cadboro Bay. Undergoing a moorage rebuild project, the established Victoria institution was pulling two-by-ten cedar planks from the Pacific Ocean. Like kids in a candy shop, Goodman and Jardine were thrilled to find the untreated natural cedar dock wood, that had been floating in the Pacific Ocean for over fifty years, completely healthy. The wood was left in its original form and had the added allure of weathered yellow strips of paint down the sides of some of the planks.
“We were so excited to find these planks with splashes of colour and knew we could incorporate them in an artistic way into our design. We were able to hand-select the various pieces that had weathered paint to create designs for Patagonia’s feature walls. For Patagonia, it is imperative that their designs are contextual to the location and so finding these planks was the edge they were looking for.” Respectful of the local surf community, Patagonia was thrilled with the dock wood’s unique connection to the Pacific Ocean. Assimilating part of an established Victorian institution into the design is integral to Patagonia’s culture of keeping a part of Victoria’s history alive.
Working closely with the Patagonia corporate designer in California, ARYZE was given carte blanche over every detail of the shop, right down to the hand-built furniture designed by Matthew Jardine. Clearly a task for creative custom builders, everything in this rustic industrial design is one-hundred-percent custom hand-cut and hand-built using specialty woods and recycled materials. Even the pillars in the build are wrapped in dock wood and hand-cut angle iron.
Have we mentioned yet that this entire build, complete with custom furniture, was completed in a seriously aggressive time frame? Just eighty-four days after the lease was signed, Patagonia was open for business with a unique retail environment complete with custom reclaimed millwork, custom furniture, and specialty design elements. The Patagonia team notes that, “the outcome is perfect, the ARYZE team exceeded our expectations particularly with their unique design features that were left to their custom creativity.”