Art of Making Peace: Inside the Shelter Half

Can the past be transformed? We believe it can. Our latest search for innovative materials led us to the discovery of a fabric that has been used for over a century, one that most of us have never encountered: vintage military canvas.

Since the Civil War, soldiers have taken temporary shelter under two-man pup tents made from Shelter Halves, a durable cotton canvas. Shelter Halves were fastened together two at a time over ridge poles to create floorless, A-frame tents. When not in use, they doubled as ponchos for traveling soldiers. Manufactured and used through both World Wars, Vietnam, and other military campaigns through the 1980s, these cotton fabrics were eventually retired and now sold as reissue by the U.S. Government. A namesake coffee house known as the Shelter Half, was established in 1968 as a place where soldiers could gather and talk freely without military repression -- becoming a center of publication of underground papers promoting political change. The Shelter Half has participated at the intersection of war and the hope for peace

We discovered in Shelter Halves an unexpected muse for design that could showcase how style and sustainability come together. Virtually indestructible, shelter halves have been softened by time and usage to make a great upholstery material. Each tent has been power washed, and dyed using organic inks to transform them from their original olive color to beautiful shades of indigo, eggplant, smoke gray, Havana brown and dark green.

Transforming vintage military tents into high-style upholstery may not bring about world peace, but through design, may just save our planet.