Target builds a life-size dollhouse in Grand Central

This week, Target built a life-size Cape Cod-style dollhouse smack in the middle of Manhattan's Grand Central Terminal -- furnished not with toy furniture but with more than 3,000 items showcasing its real-life Threshold collection. About 40,000 people stopped by, free to wander around inside and even shop for items in the house from their mobile devices.

[Click here or on a photo to go to a slideshow.]

I love this whimsical idea of playing with scale, essentially turning visitors into props themselves: dolls. At least that's how they look to me in the pictures, wandering through the 1,500-square-foot, seven-room "house." It reminds me a little of those tilt-shift photos that make the normal-size world look miniature.

People who are more practical-minded might not quite see the appeal. Isn't a life-size dollhouse just, you know, a house?

What sets this apart, though, are some optical illusions and glaring omissions. The most prominent omission, of course, is the fourth wall. The faux hinges imply that the house opens and closes. The second floor is inaccessible, just like most dollhouses' rooms are if the dolls don't have an owner to move them around: no stairs. The second level also uses gives the illusion of depth with not-quite-full-length furnishings, a time-honored trick of the eye that's likely to be familiar to anyone who's been to a Disney park.

Oh, and also: No toilet in the bathroom. (This remains true to the dollhouse concept and has the added bonus of preventing, er, misunderstandings among visitors.)

The makers' goal was to meld fantasy and reality, according to Daniel Chu, executive vice president-experiential creative director at Deutsch, the agency that came up with the installation. He told AdAge: "Target is about the balance of the thrill of expecting more, and the reality of paying less. We wanted to take these two brands, Grand Central and Target, and look at them as connectors of fantasy and reality."

The house, made of 4-by-8 interlocking panels, was put together in 54 hours.

Click here or on a photo to visit our slideshow.

You can also watch a time-lapse video of the dollhouse construction:

And here's a video about the designers behind Target's Threshold home collection:

What do you think of the life-size dollhouse? Let us know in the comments.

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