SOM Fashions Former Chicago Firehouse Into Bespoke Men’s Hat Atelier

Optimo founder Graham Thompson finishes up a hat by steaming it in the workroom. Photography by Tom Rossiter.

Felt hats line shelves formed from aircraft cable. Photography by AJ Trela.

Laminated glass covers the aperture left by the firehouse pole, so the workroom is visible from the upstairs showroom. Photography by Tom Rossiter.

The walnut and cork hatter’s wall of racks and forms separates the workroom from the finishing and sewing rooms. Photography by Tom Rossiter.

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CB2: Sofas.

Oscar Isperian: Rug

Stained oak flooring flows through the lounge, furnished with Mermelada Estudio sofas. Photography by Tom Rossiter.

Both existing, the workroom’s glazed brick walls were re-pointed and cleaned and the concrete floor sealed and polished. Photography by Tom Rossiter.

Custom steel armatures power and illuminate the machines in the workroom. The same metal forms the custom rolling racks along the window wall. Photography by Tom Rossiter.

Beaver felt hats get pounced and polished in the surface-finishing room. Photography by Tom Fowler.

In the sewing room, custom walnut tabletops accommodate vintage Singer machines specific to hat production. Photography by Tom Rossiter.

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Tim Thompson Designs: Custom Doors.

The 1914 building’s fire-truck bays were fitted with custom aluminum doors clad in brass. Photography by Tom Rossiter.

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Modified Originals: Custom Table. 

Beneath the showroom’s steel pendant fixture is a 19-foot-long walnut table, both custom. Photography by Tom Rossiter.

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