Posted on September 20 2015
When Kris and I set up Bon Tot, we always envisioned it as a physical space. My background as an architect, combined with Kris's retail history, was definitely going to push us in that direction. When the chance came up to open a physical store on a really beautiful street in central Edinburgh; well, we couldn't say no! As soon as we accepted the offer though, we realised that we'd have to open very quickly and on an extremely limited budget.
"Let's build it from cardboard", I said.
There was reason behind the madness, although at times in the days that followed that reasoning was routinely questioned!
Our mantra at Bon Tot is "Simply Good Design". You'll find that our core products are great quality basics- mostly unisex, year round styles that you can add a signature piece too if you want, but that also look great on their own. Trends come and go, but good design is good design, regardless of cost. Our toys and games are heavily aimed at building, creating and imagining, and a lot of them are made from recycled materials; card and cardboard.
With this background in mind, we wanted to fit out our shop unit to match our values; to show that simple, good design can be achieved without spending a fortune and without uneccessary bells and whistles.
With all good design, planning is everything.. measure twice, cut once as they say! The main shelving unit was designed so that every piece could be cut from a 1500x600mm sheet of cardboard, with minimal cuts and minimal waste. A couple of drawings, a Google SketchUp model and then, a few days later, 40 identical sheets of cardboard arrived!
Thankfully a few good friends were willing to lend a hand. Over the course of a weekend, the base was built, inspected and approved by our chief product tester, Clemence! One of the key concepts was to make a space that was equally for children and adults. Anything on the ground was to be fair game for kids to play with, so the base of the unit lifted products off the ground, and out of the reach of little hands.
The top was built the following day, and a copper pipe threaded through to act as a hanging rail. There are no nails, screws or hidden fixings. The design itself gives the unit its stability and packing tape on the edges holds it all together! The whole unit (excluding a couple of thank you beers!) was built for £75.
We finished the shop with a simple curtain and a couple of lucky street find items - a beautiful old school desk and a little kids' stool. We also borrowed some tables and chairs from generous friends of ours, so that you can all come in for a coffee to say hello, and stay for a chat! We opened our doors 1 week after starting work and although the space will evolve a little in the coming weeks, we're so happy to be up and running and meeting some of our lovely customers in person!