Come on, Barbie, let's go ... shopping! For the doll's 50th birthday this year, corporate parent Mattel wrapped up a whopper of a present: Barbie's first-ever flagship store. The six-story, 35,000-square-foot House of Barbie in Shanghai, designed by New York's Slade Architecture, "is the first physical representation of the new chapter of Barbie," says Richard Dickson, senior VP of the brand. It's a timely project. With U.S. sales down in recent years, Mattel hopes Barbie will take off in emerging markets like China, where she really is a fresh face. The retail space's design reflects her ambition to be more than a plaything — House of Barbie also has apparel, a beauty salon, and a café. "Mattel wanted to raise the experience to the level of a flagship fashion store, as opposed to a flagship toy store," says architect James Slade. The message: Life in plastic? It's fantastic.
A version of this article appeared in the October 2009 issue of Fast Company magazine.