Shop Life



Practice Area


Tenement Museum

Project Vision

Shop Life exists at the intersection of culture and commerce. Working closely with the Tenement Museum, Potion designed an interactive counter where products tell the stories of the shops that once sold them. Shop Life is the first interactive installation ever incorporated into the historic museum.

Potion’s design challenge was several-fold: create a unique experience within the educator-led tour, engineer an installation that disappeared into the vintage decor, and script a sequence that led visitors from tangible products to an understanding of the store’s role in immigrant neighborhoods. The installation is a 24-foot-long counter capable of hosting 15 visitors. Vintage products chosen by the visitors reveal photos, videos, maps, and oral histories that together tell the fascinating stories of Shop Life on the Lower East Side.



Project Details
This engaging interactive allows visitors to handle objects and, by doing so, access information and explore their uses and historical context. This is a clever reversal of the usual object behind glass with an interpretive label; the tactile object is the key to the learning experience.
Juror 1
Integrates a perfect blend of communication tools—contemplation as well as sensory, hands-on, and interactive experiences—to engage the visitor. The experience leads with the object, which is the strength of this dynamic environment. The use of media, information, and audio then follows and is activated by the user. The object is the key to unlocking the story rather than the other way around, and therefore puts the emphasis on the content rather than the communication device. Good use of graphic hierarchy and information organization.
Juror 2
This installation offers a high-touch and high-tech experience. I appreciate that the visitor can hold an object, examine its physical properties, and then place it on a touch table for more information delivered digitally. This all makes for a memorable and intimate experience highlighting the stories of this institution.
Juror 3
Design Team

Jared Schiffman, Phillip Tiongson (principals); Jonathan Bobrow, Steven Litt (developers), Neo Barc (design engineer), Caroline Oh (designer), Allison Farber, Kacie Kinzer (producers) 

Design Firm



Andy Green (sound designer); Yu-Hwa Lin for Perkins Eastman (architect); Shaina Feinberg, Matt McMahon (video production)


Kevin Groves (furniture fabrication, architectural finishes)