Selfridges launches The Joke Shop with playful Slapstick Generator artwork

London department store Selfridges has opened The Joke Shop, a “shoppable comedy store” that sells products including sneezing powder and has windows filled with whoopee cushions and slipping bananas.

Located in the corner store space on Selfridges’ ground-floor level, The Joke Shop pop-up store was designed by the retailer’s in-house team.

A fake door in Selfridges' windowA fake door in Selfridges' window
The Joke Shop has a fake entrance with nostalgic typefaces

The shop, which the retailer describes as a “shoppable comedy store”, sells joke shop products such as whoopee cushions and sneezing powder, together with fashion pieces from designers including Judith Leiber and Adam Jones.

Selfridges worked with five joke stores across the UK to get the right atmosphere for The Joke Shop, which Selfridges executive creative director Laura Weir hoped “would platform the power of nostalgia and in-person human connection”.

Selfridges' "shoppable comedy store"Selfridges' "shoppable comedy store"
The shop sells a mix of playful toys and fashion items

“The Selfridges creative team travelled the country visiting local joke shops and found institutions that were rich in inspiration and personality,” Weir told Dezeen.

“We used more found and vintage pieces than we might usually in the space and as a result, a customer asked me ‘what did you use for the smell?'” she added. “The impression of a genuine joke shop was so strong that customers felt we had scented the space, which we hadn’t.”

The Slapstick Generator by Mel BrimfieldThe Slapstick Generator by Mel Brimfield
Artist Mel Brimfield created Slapstick Generators for the store

The Joke Shop also features the Slapstick Generator, an artwork by artist Mel Brimfield that appears ready to drop buckets of paints and anvils on visitors to the store.

A second Slapstick Generator outside the store threatens to release a boulder on the person at the Selfridges Concierge desk outside The Joke Shop, while a third sits in one of its windows.

Second slapstick generator artwork at SelfridgesSecond slapstick generator artwork at Selfridges
One appears ready to drop a boulder

“I love the sheer scale of it, the detail of each mechanism and the sense of movement,” Weir said of the Slapstick Generator.

A fake door, which fills another of the windows, was inspired by nostalgic typefaces and handwritten wayfinding.

“Above the door, we worked with Peckham-based signwriter and mural artist Matt Rogers who hand-painted the signs to give a nod to the British joke shops,” Weir said.

“Some of my favourite touches were the graphic stickers on the door, which disclosed a funny rating instead of a hygiene rating, for example, subverting classic retailing tropes with funny twists,” she added.

“Eclectic attention to detail and intentional imperfection felt important.”

A banana slipping on a banana peelA banana slipping on a banana peel
Artist Max Siedentopf designed a display of a banana slipping on a banana peel

Selfridges also commissioned artist Max Siedentopf to create installations for its other department store windows, featuring his takes on classic jokes – including a giant chicken crossing a road to get to Selfridges and a trainer-clad banana that has slipped on a peel.

“Each window pays homage to classic jokes and pranks throughout the decades – from giant whoopee cushions, a wide collection of authentic clown shoes, pie catapults and, of course, bananas,” Siedentopf told Dezeen.

A giant whoopee cushion in a department store windowA giant whoopee cushion in a department store window
A giant whoopee cushion fills one window

“I bribed a group of monkeys with bananas to randomly select jokes for me,” he added. “Each window is unique, however every single screw, piece of wood, banana and nail were carefully selected for their comedic potential.”

Other Selfridges retail spaces featured on Dezeen include a pop-up Kim Kardashian swimwear store and a Courvoisier bar by designer Yinka Ilori.

The photography is courtesy of Selfridges.

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