Devoldfabrikken: Merging the past with the present
By Alyssa Nilsen
In Langevåg, just a seven-minute boat ride from the Norwegian town of Ålesund, you’ll find the buzzing hub of Devoldfabrikken – an old textile factory turned outlet, arts and activity centre, preserving historical buildings for future generations.
Devoldfabrikken (The Devold Factory) hails back to 1853, when local textile worker Ole Andreas Devold founded the Devold brand and started producing woolen products that remain popular to this day. From his humble beginnings as a worker in his father’s textile workshop, he not only created a successful brand; through curiosity, innovation and vision, he also built what eventually became an industrial town, containing one of Norway’s first hydroelectric power stations, hospitals, churches, kindergartens, cultural venues and a fire station. Devoldfabrikken was among the first in Norway to install electrical lights, and only one year after the invention of the telephone, Devold brought two devices home from England, connecting the factory in Langevåg to the administrative offices in Ålesund across the fjord.
The production of woolen garments has since moved out of the factory, but the buildings remain, with ample space and opportunity. This was recognised by the Flakk family, whose business Flakk Group AS purchased the factory in 1989 and has since repaired, restored and rebuilt the old buildings, preparing them for a new life in the modern era.
Award-winning sustainability and preservation
Today, Devoldfabrikken is a buzzing hub containing outlet stores, shops with local design, eateries and event spaces, as well as a chocolate factory, a bakery, a forge, workshops and art galleries. In the spring of 2022, Devold of Norway, the original brand of Devoldfabrikken, is establishing a brand-new flagship store in addition to the Outlet Store they have had for generations at Devoldfabrikken. The goal with the new Brand Store is to showcase the whole collection of iconic woolen garments.
In keeping with the values of the Flakk Group and the factory’s tradition, Devoldfabrikken aims to be a sustainable hub where the past meets the future on historical grounds. The rustic interiors and original details make for a very special atmosphere. “We want to recreate the experience the original workers had back in the day,” say CEO Kari Mette Ski and marketing manager Kristine Støversten, representing O A Devolds Sønner. “Even if you’re stepping into a modern office, you will find the factory’s old walls and floors. We aim to use the original elements as much as possible.”
In 2016, Devoldfabrikken was awarded Olavsrosen (St. Olaf’s rose), a seal of quality awarded by the Norwegian organisation Norsk Kulturarv (Norwegian Cultural Heritage), due to the organisation’s efforts in maintaining and preserving a cultural heritage site for the future.
Stay for a while, or for the whole day
Devoldfabrikken has plenty to offer, whether you’re there for a few hours or stay for a whole day. Stroll through the shops, grab a pastry and a coffee at one of the cafés, join in on one of the events taking place at the grounds, or visit the resident artists in their workshops.
For those who crave a bit more action, Devoldfabrikken’s newest attraction is the activity park Kraftverket. The park, consisting of 800 square metres of obstacle courses, slides, a bouldering wall and climbing frames, opened earlier this year and is a playground of fun for both kids and adults. Rental spaces for birthday celebrations are opening soon, with activities and access to the activity park.
The Devold Museum gives you a glimpse into the Devold story and displays garments and production equipment from the factory’s beginning back in 1853. A model train museum is also currently being built and is on track to become the largest in the Nordics. Already open to the public, the interactive miniature world of the Devold Model Railway displays landscapes from around the world, across 1,000 square metres.
Outside the factory, a gondola lift is planned to open in 2024, transporting visitors up to the nearby mountain of Sulafjellet, with its spectacular hiking opportunities.
Ever-growing, Devoldfabrikken is set to be a lively experience and retail centre for generations to come, offering local residents work and opportunities and contributing to the diversity and economy of the region, all while keeping its rich and intriguing past alive.
Travel to Devoldfabrikken from Ålesund by boat (seven minutes) or by car (30 minutes). Opening hours: Monday to Friday: 10am to 8pm Saturday: 10am to 6pm Shops: Devold Outlet Bergans Outlet Helly Hansen Outlet SWIMS Outlet Porsgrund Outlet SWIX Outlet Sport’n Outlet The outlet shops always offer a 30 to 70 per cent discount. Also visit: Binderiet Pralina chocolate factor By Sunde X-FAKTOR Kantina café Geiranger Bakery Spinneriet Vinmonopolet Arts and craftsmen: Siw’s Pottery Celsius Glass Studio OH Design Forge B&G Frame and furniture Inger K. Giskeødegård Photographer Frida Berg Solevåg Carpentry Web: www.devoldfabrikken.no Facebook: Devoldfabrikken Instagram: @Devoldfabrikken/
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