One of the nation's premier designer toy stores is moving from the Ukrainian Village to Lincoln Park, and it's opening the new location with a bang.
Rotofugi has always been a combination toy store and gallery space. It will launch the new, expanded location at 2780 N. Lincoln Ave. with an exhibit celebrating the 50th anniversary of the first Playboy Club, which opened in Chicago in 1960.
(Scroll down for images from the show.)
The exhibit will feature over 20 contemporary artists, each of whom re-imagined the iconic Playboy Bunny for the next 50 years. The result is a visually striking collection of work: Playboy Redux. It was previously on display at the Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh, now, it's coming to Chicago to land in Rotofugi's new space, with new works by Chicago artists added to the mix.
Chicagoist has an extensive interview Kirby and Whitney Kerr, the couple that owns Rotofugi. In it, they describe the impetus behind the move:
K: We're going to start carrying a little more apparel - more t-shirts basically. Upper Playground, Gama-Go, Kid Robot apparel, we're working on tokidoki. And then an expanded selection of more gifty homeware type stuff, like well designed stuff. We're just sort of spreading out a little bit... [W]e had maxed out that space on Chicago Ave. There were a lot of times we considered buying new items and we had no idea what to replace - so we just didn't order them. Toys filled the entire store and it wasn't acceptable anymore.
W: The other great thing is that now when you come see us you can always see the gallery. If someone was at lunch you couldn't get into the gallery, you had to wait for them to get back.
Rotofugi is a mecca for lovers of vinyl figurines and designer toys from all over the world. Since its opening in 2004, it's always had both an international aesthetic -- importing a lot of art from the genre's masters in Japan and Hong Kong -- and a local focus. Starting in 2007, the store began a collaboration with Squibbles Ink featuring figures designed by local artists.
While the couple acknowledge that their store might lose some cachet by moving to Lincoln Park, they're hoping that the bigger space and the saucy exhibit will lure old fans and newcomers alike to come to the new location.
The opening of the exhibition, and the grand re-opening of the store at the new address, will be Friday night, August 27th, from 7-10 p.m.
From the exhibition:
by Ain Cocke
by Gary Baseman
by Bob Masse
by Tara McPherson