Ringo Studio positions sex toys in athletic-themed room for Contact Sports

Brooklyn-based Ringo Studio has reimagined the experience of shopping for sex toys, creating a store in New York modelled on a collegiate locker room.

The Contact Sports shop on Mercer Street in Soho is designed to feel very different to the typical spaces in which products for sex are purchased.

Store interior with walnut shelving and mosaic floor
The store interior features walnut panelling and mosaic flooring

“In a survey conducted before launch, the majority of people reported feeling uncomfortable walking into a sex store,” said the studio. “Uninviting exteriors felt intimidating, the aisles were hard to navigate, and the shelves stocked hundreds of products that were hard to decipher.”

Working with Ringo Studio founder Madelynn Ringo – who has designed retail spaces for Glossier, Bala and Our Place – the brand devised a shopping experience based around sport, and used cues from this world to inform the interiors.

Merchandise displayed on brass rails and shelving
Merchandise is displayed on brass rails and shelving

The retail space includes an area at the front that sells long-stem roses in singles or bundles, including a 15-foot (4.5 metre) wall on which the fresh-cut red flowers are stored.

Beyond, dark walnut panelling, brass rails and shelves, and green cushions give the store a collegiate atmosphere, while mosaic floor tiles and baskets of towels evoke a locker room.

Walnut panelling forms cubby holes for displaying products
Walnut panelling forms locker-like cubby holes for displaying products

Vintage sporting ephemera like tennis rackets, boxing gloves and American football helmets are displayed on higher shelves.

Below, the selection of “entry-level gear and sensual gifts” from brands such as Kiki de Montparnasse, Lelo, Dame, Maude, Future Method and more are merchandised in locker-style cubbyholes.

“Contact Sports flips the traditional model on its head and takes a more curated approach, stocking only 70 products at launch,” the studio said.

“Their team spent more than a year vetting a category that includes tens of thousands to offer only the best of the best, with unexpected touches that enhance the full experience around the sport.”

Jonathan de Pas baseball glove chair in front of counter
The store features a Joe Chair shaped like a baseball glove

The space is illuminated from above by a light box behind a wooden lattice, while softer lighting is installed in the cubbies.

An iconic chair shaped like a giant baseball mitt by designers Jonathan de Pas, Donato D’urbino and Paolo Lomazzi sits next to the white counter, above which the brand’s cursive logo glows in neon.

Long-stem red roses displayed in trophy-like vases
Long-stem red roses are sold at the front of the store

The sex toy industry has grown significantly in recent years, as taboos have broken and social acceptance has widened. See some of the most unusual sex toys featured on Dezeen.

However, “the retail experience itself had yet to evolve,” said the Contacts Sports team, which hopes the store will change how shopping for sex gear should look and feel.

The photography is by Anna Morgowicz.

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