Designed by Montreal studios SSSVLL and Daily tours les jours, the LittleBits pop-up shop in New York lets imaginations run wild.
“Inventions to stay and inventions to go” is the concept for LittleBits Store, the first retail venture for the wildly popular online startup LittleBits Electronics. The pop-up shop was designed by two Montreal studios, and , who turned a storefront in SoHo, New York, into a playful tool shed. The interactive space is designed to show what can be done with the snap-together components geared toward getting kids (or anyone) to build their own electronic gadgets.
Complete with pegboards and workbenches, the interior doubles as a lab for tinkerers to geek out together using the colour-coded DIY circuit modules. “People are often afraid of the blank canvas,” says Mouna Andraos, co-founder of Daily tous les jours, a studio best known for its interactive installations in public spaces. LittleBits has turned out to be an ideal client, since the shop, too, is all about getting people involved as co-creators. “The store is about walking visitors through the process of creating their own inventions or remixing someone else’s. By the end of it, you’re making something, and you didn’t even realize a leap had to be taken,” says Andraos.
Would-be inventors can then buy what they’ve made or leave their pieces behind for someone else to fiddle with. The floor plan is divided into zones: In the front window, a perpetual-motion phrasal-template machine issues cheeky challenges to passersby. Inside, an area called Pick a Project displays completed inventions with step-by-step instructions. Meanwhile, the Makey Makey synth wall involves visitors in a Twister-like warm-up that uses the capabilities of the Synth Kit and sound and music Bits. The most traditional retail section, with Bits merchandised in a logical life cycle, begins with starter kits for kids aged eight and up.
Visitors get hands-on time to sink in to the inventor’s mindset at four different tables. Each has a selection of props, like the electric guitar cut-outs that snap together with magnets to create a chain of musical Bits, available at the cacophonous Keytar table. “The store is like our studio. We were inspired by all the random stuff we keep accumulating, and how it keeps inspiring new projects,” says Daily tous les jours co-principal Melissa Mongiat. “As much as we like building off of each other when we create, we’re trying to have people at the store build off each other’s ideas and inventions.”
LittleBits Store is open until December 30 at 335 West Broadway Ave., New York.