The Science Gallery opened MAKESHOP on South Leinster Street this month – a pop-up shop and workshop space, open until Christmas. South Leinster Street is an interesting location, near busy streets and tourist attractions but a little muted by the heavy traffic and the wide triangle of the junction.

The shopfront had been vacant, painted purple with signage for Duffy’s Booksellers. It’s now black, with a light interior and pale timber furniture visible through the window. The day’s workshops are advertised on a blackboard outside. On the signboard, black cut-out letters are edged in orange tape and nailed up. It’s extremely simple and unfussy, and it’s got the deceptive simplicity of something smart and well-planned. The folding schematic style of the lettering is great, with a jaunty make-and-do feel and visual impact that keep it from suggesting a children’s-only space. Anyone familiar with the Science Gallery will recognise the easy combination of playfulness and good design, and it should be an example to other street-facing businesses.

I must admit to being a pop-up sceptic. Using vacant space and expanding the options for leases brings life to the city when businesses are failing and leaving gaps behind, but temporary occupation can often be a commercial gimmick and far from a panacea for the city’s problems. This, though, seems like an example of pure awesome: good design, a clear purpose, a programme inviting the public in each day and incorporating longer workshops as well, and a connection with the Hack The City exhibition in encouraging making and tinkering and taking part. Even if MAKESHOP is temporary, teaching skills and nurturing ingenuity will ensure a much longer impact.

P.S. Any information on designers involved would be appreciated!

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