An eclectic team of architects, designers, urban planners and filmmakers are giving new life to vacant storefronts on the Lower East Side with their ready-made kit of furnishings stored in a six-foot cube. The easy-to-transport box – called the Made in the Lower East Side (miLES) Storefront Transformer – is subdivided to fit through any store door and unfolds into a series of functional pop-up shop ingredients like shelving, tables, seats, a stage, lighting, WiFi, projectors and even a PA system!
“Our goal is to utilize vacant storefronts and create a neighborhood that is an incubator for ideas. By creating a common platform for different stakeholders, the community, small businesses and creatives can work with landlords to create a diverse and innovative spectrum of neighborly spaces that can be used by everyone,” explains Eric Ho, one of many co-creators of the miLES project.
The team came together under the OpenIDEO’s Vibrant Cities Challenge to collaborate on ideas and concepts for revitalizing communities in struggling cities. With over 200 storefronts sitting empty in the popular Manhattan neighborhood, the miLES initiative offers an opportunity for landlords to make the rent while activating temporary community space for project collaboration, incubation and economic development in local neighborhoods.
Having successfully launched their first pilot storefront this past Spring (along with the production of 14 shops, 20 classes, two design festivals and a film festival), the team is in the process of raising funds through their Kickstarter campaign to prototype the transformer this winter. Over the course of seven weeks, miLES will demo the product by transforming a storefront into a series of unique programming that include: a comic book store (week one); a live magazine (week two); hands-on creative classes (week three); a wellness program for homeless youth (week four); a DIY craft and workspace (week five); an ethical retail store (week six); and finally a one-of-a-kind deli-experience by Ghetto Gastro.
Discover the miLES Storefront Transformer for yourself on the project’s Kickstarter page.
Images via miLES