We often report and complain of the increasingly homogenous city centres we experience across our country and world today. Whether it be Market Street in Manchester, Briggate in Leeds or even London’s Oxford Street, we all know and expect the same key retailers to grace us. From Next to M&S to Topshop to Boots, there are the same retailers in the same sorts of locations everywhere.
Although this is unarguably helpful and great for the shopper who knows what they want and wants to get it fast, gone are the days of real browsing, variety and chance. Individual shops, markets, boutiques and stalls are very rare nowadays and, if you do discover one, you’ll find the little treasures they used to sell, a thing of the past, in favour of more commercial goods or products targeted at tourists.
The hugely well known and popular designer Wayne Hemmingway, alongside his wife Geradine, have taken on the challenge of bringing serendipity, choice and entrepreneurial opportunity back to our high streets. The creators of the hugely successful Red or Dead brand are on a mission to give the thousands of young designers, businessmen and creatives a place and chance to get their ideas and goods on to the high street for people to see and buy.
Their hugely successful business began its life in the markets and stalls of Camden and Kensington paying next to nothing in rent and with the ‘nothing ventured nothing gained’ philosophy. Hemmingway argues that encouraging risk-takers and offering entrepreneurial opportunities are not available in the hugely competitive and expensive retail market we have today. Furthermore, the current recession makes business start-ups even harder.
To fulfil their challenge, they have designed and set up Kioskiosk: a modern and accessible take on the traditional stall. This small and modest hut is no real design feature to the eye but the opportunities and potential behind it are groundbreaking. Hemmingway has placed the Kioskiosk in SE1 amongst the hustle and bustle of London’s shoppers, just next to the city hall and the River Thames.
The kiosk is completely free of charge (yes that is correct: there are no site fees or rent to pay) for any budding retailer that has already impressed the Hemmingway design team with their creative merchandise. If successful, the young person can have access to trade from the kiosk and bring their unique goods to the everyday public.
This concept has been a significant statement and goes a real way to realising the limitations held over the creative industry in England. As a key priority for the government to see this area of industry expand, it is hoped that Hemmingway’s design and philosophy will be taken seriously and expanded further as their current Kioskiosk is completely booked up.
If taken over by a more governmental body, to maintain its integrity however, efforts have to be made to keep the quality and creativity of the Kioskiosk traders to the very best. Let us hope these efforts, alongside others, will see variety, serendipity (a fortunate accident) and individuality enter our high streets and wardrobes once again.