Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Levi's Workshop

The other night we took over the Levi's Workshop on Valencia St. in the Mission District of SF.

It's a stunningly simple example of integrating an ad campaign into a community in a meaningful way by giving visitors an opportunity to participate and celebrating local craftspeople (including Dave Eggers and Alice Waters).

Temporarily Taking over a building that has been empty for years (since it was the original location of The Slanted Door), Levi's has made a national ad campaign take on the flavor of a local Mission outfit by doing what feels like a relatively light touch to an old commercial space. As much as I love the look and feel of letterpress products, I can't believe it was a company that makes jeans who introduced me to the experience.

There is very little merchandising in the space. And the limited addition denim apron I purchased allows me to select a local arts charity to donate the proceeds, (Southern Exposure). And what at first may be a series of props as would be the case in most retail merchandising, are in fact the real deal, and guests are invited to try out there own silk screening, and test drive a behemoth Vandercook proof press, platen press, color copier, or digital workstation.

The staff genuinely seem to care about the craft and are in love with the store's concept. Some are even heading to New York to work at the photo studio workshop opening there after this one closes. The workshop suits the Levi's Work campaign very well and feels remarkably genuine.

This makes me wonder, what if there was a resource like this all of the time that was accessible to the everyone as a community resource. Rather than public space being primarily focused on the notion of the space, the real estate, as the primary shared resource, perhaps tools for each discipline could be located in underutilized commercial space, driving neighborhood economies and building a culture of exchange as people come together around common values that need common tools.

Go visit at 580 Valencia St. before it disappears at the end of August.

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