TAKING FLIGHT: London has just become home to a new digitally enhanced “smart street,” complete with electricity-generating sidewalks.
The New West End Co., the organization that represents retailers trading on and around London’s Bond, Oxford and Regent Streets, teamed with Appear Here, an online marketplace for short-term retail, to fill Bird Street with a plethora of pop-ups ranging from fashion and wearable technology to smart brands and innovative dining experiences.
Located a few steps from Selfridges and the Bond Street tube station, Bird Street was long considered an underused side street with great retail potential.
Jace Tyrrell, chief executive officer of the New West End Co., said the concept is a first for London. “We want to offer a first-hand look at what the future of retail could look like, while having an area in the bustling West End for visitors to relax.”
In an effort to transition Bird Street into a tech-friendly thoroughfare, the company worked with various sustainable businesses. One of them is Pavegen technology, a company that paves walkways, which is helping the street generate electricity and harvest data from footfall.
Airlite’s purifying paint is meant to clean the air, remove bacteria and reduce energy consumption by neutralizing pollutants. Airlabs’ benches have been designed to filter pollutants and produce clean air.
“The street’s kiosks, which will house a revolving mix of innovative fashion and wearable technology brands, are inspired by the form of an origami bird,” Tyrrell said. “With wings unfolded, Bird Street’s origami-style kiosks will welcome shoppers.”
Brands on the street include Nina Ullrich, Cuemars and The Dandy Lab. They will be housed in pods covered with the purifying paint. Peter Jeun Ho Tsang, co-founder and creative director of The Dandy Lab, described the brand’s pop-up as “part concept store, part technology innovation pod.”
It features the team’s favorite fashion and lifestyle products from around the world, and they are exclusive to the street. The Dandy Lab’s offering includes selfie mirrors, mobile payment apps, social currency and technologies that echo the outdoor elements of the smart street.
The plans to transform Bird Street were unveiled last year and the initiative was funded by Transport for London. New West End Co. would not disclose the investment or sales projections.