Decoding Design

Harrods unveils its first gender-neutral toy department

Posting in Design

This week, Harrods opened the doors to its new gender-neutral toy department, the Toy Kingdom.

Famed British luxury department store, Harrods, opened the doors to its first gender-neutral toy department this week, no doubt smart timing on the part of the store, who will be seeing floods of tourists who are wandering London during the Olympic Games.

For the new design, Harrods commissioned London and Singapore-based interior designers Shed, who specialize in retail and who have also created nteriors for such famous clients as Prada and Hunter, and also designed the art-deco shoe salon at Harrods.

The multi-million pound re-design of the 15 year-old department was Harrods' way of entering the new era, as Toy Kingdom was to be grouped by theme, not gender. It  includes new areas like an enchanted forest, a miniature toy world, a reading room, a circus area and a candy store.

For the designers, this was an opportunity to "honour the traditional while composing an ultimate fantasy land."  The Toy Kingdom is a space meant to reflect the fame and prestige of Harods while going into different worlds, called Dreamscapes.

"It's retail entertainment. Coming to the Toy Kingdom will be like a day out, and you need to be taken out of the real world to enjoy the reality of shopping," said Mark Briggs, Head of Store Image at Harrods.

Judging from the pictures, although most of Harrods seems a bit like a dreamland of beauty, refinement (and excess), the Toy Kingdom will be a hit with whatever children are lucky enough to browse. But, I'm guessing its contents won't be cheap.

More photos:

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Images: Shed

Beth Carter

Contributing Editor

Beth Carter is a freelance journalist based in San Francisco. She has worked for Catalyst magazine, the New York Times Syndicate, BBC Travel and Wired. She holds degrees from the University of Oregon and New York University. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure