Urban Whimsy and Interactive Retail Pop-up - Medallion Retail
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Urban Whimsy and Interactive Retail Pop-up

POSTED ON: 08/03/17 interactive retail pop-up

I’m updating an old adage for the creators of interactive retail pop-up: It’s not what you see. It’s how you see it.

That unique kind of “vision” – the skill to imagine things not as they are, but as they could be – serves extremely well those who seek to elevate the art of interactive retail pop-up. The ability to identify an entity or an opportunity where everyone else sees a blank space, is a gift.

Artist Tom Bob has that gift.

Recently, the urban landscape of New York has come alive. Bob has transformed manhole covers, electric meters, drainage pipes and other mundane background items of city life into wide-eyed, whimsical characters.

Creating Life, and Liveliness

Animism is the belief that all creatures and objects are imbued with spirit. It is a pre-pagan concept. It is mythical. And, when translated into cartoons, quite endearing. Consider the singing flowers from Alice in Wonderland, or Mrs. Potts from Beauty and the Beast.

With his bright colors and expert eye for juxtaposition, Bob does for a storm drain what Disney did for a teapot. He has animated pockets of Manhattan, New Bedford, Massachusetts, and other locales, by making the most innocuous objects seem alive, friendly and almost unbearably adorable.

Bob says that the one theme that runs throughout his work is “balance.” In his artwork, he seeks “to build-up rather than tear down, to give rather than take and to go out on a limb rather than crave security.”

Through Bob’s point of view, drainpipes become sea monsters. Storm drains see new life as Pac-Man characters. And garbage cans are converted into robots on the attack. The work makes for an amazing Instagram account, and is also groovy inspiration for those seeking to create a very special interactive retail pop-up. (That should be all of us).

What can Tom Bob’s astonishing urban aliens, octopi, shadow children and pop-culture icons teach us about putting the “interactive” in interactive retail pop-up?

  • Create something that is truly one-of-a-kind.
  • Seek to transform the mundane into something joyful.
  • Design experiences to interact with their environments.
  • Demonstrate bold personality.
  • Don’t give it all away at once. Be discoverable.
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