Made Thought creates “a website that exists” in the form of a pop-up shop

Made Thought shop in Seven Dials

Design studio Made Thought has imagined the shop of the future, with an experimental pop-up in London that has a lot in common with a digital experience.

The Made Thought store brings together an assortment of elements you typically wouldn’t find in a shop, from editorial articles to immersive installations.

It gives the studio – which specialises in branding – a platform to show off its work, but also to start up a wider conversation about how creative thinking can be used to improve the world of retail and products.

Made Thought shop in Seven Dials
The Made Thought store includes curated exhibitions and editorial content

“People don’t want just rails of stuff anymore,” explained Paul Austin, who founded Made Thought with Ben Parker. “The question is, how do we engage that?”

He told Dezeen: “We thought, why don’t we have a shop but not actually run it as a shop, but rather as an immersive space that retailers might take something from?”

Made Thought shop in Seven Dials
The shop showcases Made Thought’s portfolio and includes items for sale

A visitor suggested the space was like “a website that exists”, combining a multimedia portfolio with curated content and products for sale. The concept stuck.

“It resonated,” said Austin. “It’s got everything you’d expect to find in a website.”

Naim Audio at Made Thought shop in Seven Dials
The basement hosts a new installation every week. The first was this immersive soundscape by Naim Audio

Located in London’s Seven Dials, the Made Thought store is open for 12 weeks. The space is divided into three sections which change regularly.

The most dynamic of these is the basement – a space that is transformed weekly with different installations, in partnership with brands including Fred Perry and Naim Audio.

Heckfield and Wildsmith at Made Thought shop in Seven Dials
A landscape of water reeds featured in the space for Heckfield and Wildsmith

For farm-to-table hotel Heckfield and skincare brand Wildsmith, it was transformed into a landscape of water reeds, as the setting for talks about biodynamic farming practices.

For music equipment and software brand Ableton, a wooden cube was installed in the space, containing a replica of the bedroom of music producer Farao. The cube could be opened up to host live music performances.

“Ableton were thrilled because they just don’t get the opportunity to do this,” said Austin. “Their universe doesn’t allow it.”

Ableton at Made Thought shop in Seven Dials
The bedroom of producer Farao was created for music equipment and software brand Ableton

What is particularly effective, said the designer, is that the installations don’t feel overtly branded.

“It didn’t want to feel like it was ‘and sponsored by Ableton’,” he explained. “I think that’s been one of its biggest strengths. People see it much more on a kind of creative level than a commercial level.”

Ableton at Made Thought shop in Seven Dials
The cube opened up to host live music performances

On the left-hand side of the ground floor space is the shop area. Here, Made Thought is presenting a selection of its projects, which visitors can engage with.

Objects including Tom Dixon accessories and GF Smith paper products are organised on a colourful plinth made out of recycled materials. Products for sale are also displayed here, including T-shirts, candles and notebooks.

Made Thought shop in Seven Dials
Made Thought’s journal, To Think, provides editorial content for the space

On the opposite side of the space is an exhibition area that includes the shopfront.

Made Thought uses it to showcase the latest edition of its journal, To Think, a magazine filled with articles by creative thought leaders including Katharine Hamnett and Bella Lack.

Made Thought shop in Seven Dials
Sustainability is promoted in the exhibition space

This area also features a curated exhibition exploring the studio’s ideas about sustainability, featuring several examples of experimental new materials.

“As designers, we have a responsibility to approach what we do differently,” said Austin. “I think that that’s been the overarching message here.”

Made Thought shop in Seven Dials
The pop-up is located in Seven Dials, London

The designer revealed that the project, although expensive, only cost a bit more than Made Thought spent hiring a PR firm the previous year. He suggests more creative studios should follow the example.

“If we’re going to spend any money on reputation, this is how I see it being done,” he said. “I’d much rather do something interesting and let people hear about it, and use our social media and our platform to actually have an opinion.”

Made Thought shop in Seven Dials
The shop windows change to match the exhibitions inside

The store is open at 27 Shorts Gardens until 30 November. The studio is also in discussion to repeat the format in other cities, including Miami and Seoul.

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