The Aviary

A new micro-shop in Seattle sells objects that inspire and stimulate the brain

by Sam Bovarnick


In Seattle’s Ballard neighborhood, on an unusually cloudy summer evening, CH visited Ken Mitchell’s creativity shop The Aviary. Stepping into The Aviary is a joyfully discombobulating experience. The shop is maybe 10×10 ft and is explosive with color. The Aviary’s stimulating wares—Lomography cameras and film, journals from Binderwork, Midori and Ogami; toys like Bubber, and Kidsonroof totems—are displayed on sleek triangular shelving that juts out from the corners at odd angles.

When asked how he selects his products Mitchell says, “That’s the thing about a curated store—each product has a story. I want to offer products that enable and encourage, or inspire. Things that are inspirational rather than instructional.”

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For Mitchell—whose background is in marketing and product development (he previously worked for Fisher-Price Toys)—opening The Aviary late last year was a big change, but a good one. “The shop enables me to live out my curiosity about what drives the creative process,” he explains. “It also allows me to understand and engage with consumers in a direct and unqualified way.”


On the last weekend of July, Mitchell and Michael Shindler (of PhotoboothSF) teamed up to offer Seattlites the chance to have their tintype portraits taken. Though The Aviary is still fledgling, Mitchell says he is excited to continue exploring opportunities for extra engagement with locals and visitors. “Looking forward, I want to do more with the community,” he says, “I’d like to host workshops on basic photography, journaling or writing.”

To keep updated on upcoming workshops and projects, visit The Aviary, or see Ken give a lecture on the “Paradox of Play” next month at Creative Mornings Seattle.

Images by Sam Bovarnick and courtesy of The Aviary