Forever 21 Will Rebuild Any Instagram Image With Spools of Thread For Free

This is a really clever marketing tool using photography.  The prototype agency Breakfast has created a super complex billboard made entirely of spools of thread (6,400 to be exact).  These bobbins are wrapped with fabric containing 36 colors and can mechanically recreate any image sent to its processor.  Right now using the hashtag #f21threadscreen , clothing company Forever 21 will build and display any image on your instagram account in full 60 x 60 pixels live for the whole world to see.  

The idea came from the innovative Brooklyn based company Breakfast which has become known for their innovative use of hardware to build installation pieces for Instagram. Their first well known piece was a really cool LED screen for TNT that allowed passersby to act out any movement in real time and have it show up on the screen with interesting effects.  This concept called "Perception" is so interesting that I've included the behind the scenes video on how they created this first project below.



Perhaps their most well known creation was their Kickstarter titled "Instaprint" which was basically a photobooth that instantly printed any Instagram photograph containing the appropriate hashtag.  With each one of these pieces of electronic art, Breakfast has not only created something that is really cool to use but the device is also incredibly interesting to look at from a design aspect.  Check out the behind the scenes Kickstarter campaign from 2012 to see exactly how much work goes into these creations.  


This week's release of the Forever 21 Thread Screen is by far the most complicated creation by Breakfast yet.  The company's co-founder, Andrew Zolty, explains how the Thread Screen was originally proposed by the clothing company:

"Forever 21 was looking to experiment with something quite different than what they've done in the past.  They gave us a rather open brief, and from the start we knew we wanted to build a web-connected experience that anyone could try from anywhere in the world. We focused on thread, with it being the most basic element of fashion and quite versatile. We also focused on Instagram, as it's the most artistic/creative of social networks, and Forever 21 has a massive following on there. [With 7.5 million followers, it's 45th most followed account.] The idea developed from there."

As you can see from the behind the scenes video above, this Instagram thread spinning machine is insanely complex. With over 6 miles of total thread and more than 600,000 parts and soldering points, the Thread Screen is a pretty neat way to watch your own photos appear pixel by pixel. If you want to see your own Instagram images built live on the Forever 21 Thread Screen, simply mark any of your images with the hashtag #F21ThreadScreen and head over to the official live Thread Screen page. This campaign will be running from now until July 28th so don't miss sharing one of your images in near 5 bit glory!

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Alice Avenne's picture

Let's follow the thread and see where this leads!

Patrick Shipstad's picture

It's a very cool idea.. but from looking at the terms and agreements, it looks like all submissions hand over the photo rights to Forever 21. "...any User Content shall constitute an assignment to Forever 21 of all worldwide rights, titles and interests in all copyrights and other intellectual properties in the User Content. Thus, Forever 21 will own exclusively all such rights, titles and interests and shall not be limited in any way in its use or modifications to the submission, commercial or otherwise, of any User Content."

Patrick Hall's picture

It does seem a bit harsh for a terms and conditions but at the end of the day it's just a low res instagram post. I can't see anyone uploading anything that is really of that much worth. It's just a fun idea

Patrick Shipstad's picture

True.. it would be fun to see your pic up there, and as you said, don't post a prize portfolio piece :-)

Scott Mosley's picture

Really fun engineering project! Super cool.

Jason Ranalli's picture

I'm amazed at the amount of actual engineering that went into this. They're essentially building a form of computer, complete software suite, as well as customized, machined hardware etc for this single purpose.

What really makes me curious is how much did Forever 21 pay for this considering it appears to be a marketing campaign tool that may not be used again.