The Young Author’s Greenhouse was built on the idea that one, it is an empowering thing for young people, particularly in under-resourced communities, to see themselves as creative thinkers and writers. And two, student writing programs do not have to be – and should not be – boring. Following the model of 826, a national nonprofit co-founded by author (and board member) Dave Eggers, the organization’s writing lab was to be connected to a zany, immersive storefront that would support both the functioning of the organization and the imagination of the students.
Their team came to us with a magnetic store concept: The Opposite Shop, a store inherited by twins who saw themselves as so irreconcilably different that they split the store down the middle to bring their own visions to life. Our task was simple. Bring the story to life, spare no details.
First, we had to get the story right. It was important that we present the twins’ identities in a way that would most empower students to see themselves within the story. Through conversations with The Opposite Shop team, we learned that The Captain, imaginative and whimsical, studies airships and The Doctor, pragmatic and serious, studies the deep sea. The Captain’s side of the store then, should feel lofty and dreamlike. The Doctor’s side should be practical and scientific. On this strategy, we helped to name and create an identity system for the fantastical Airship Emporium, utilitarian Deep Sea Supply, and The Opposite Shop, the connector of the two. Then, we put on our adventurer caps to bring each twin’s vision to life through signage, environmental design, and a system for labeling shop goods.
The more we got to know the twins, the clearer it became that they actually have more in common than separates them. Kind of like the rest of us. One loves the sky, and the other is consumed by the depths of the sea, sure. But they both inspire us to be curious, independent, brave, and above all – to be adventurers.