Starting off the year Celebrating 30 Years of Innovation, we are looking back at one of our first projects for a high-profile client in Entech’s formative years. Founded in 1862, FAO Schwarz is an iconic children's toy store that is known and loved for its distinctive toy offerings and unique memorabilia as well as its elaborate stores. Their brick-and-mortar locations are famous for their life-sized stuffed animals, interactive experiences, brand integrations, including of course, the iconic dance-on piano.
Originally popularized in the 1988 hit movie “Big” with Tom Hanks – The New York FAO Schwarz store was featured when Hanks and Robert Loggia danced "Heart & Soul" and "Chopsticks" on the store's large dance-on piano. This movie prop was iconic, however, that’s all it was at the time – a movie prop! Once FAO Schwarz saw the fanfare around the dance-on piano, they wanted to bring it to life in their own store. Owner John Marhoefer’s reputation as a technically proficient, creative problem solver with FAO extended back to the building of several iconic Clock Towers, talking trees, and other feature elements in the FAO store chain for several years prior - so Entech got the call.
We were tasked with creating a functioning, life-sized dance-on piano that would be a highlight of the FAO Schwarz store and a unique experience for customers. Our team of engineers worked to design and build a custom-made piano that would meet the requirements of the store and the expectations of its customers. This had to be a reliable iconic creation that could literally take a pounding and survive with little or no maintenance. Accomplishing that involved design and testing and more design and more testing.
The result was a beautiful and functional piano that quickly became one of the most popular attractions in the store. Customers of all ages were delighted to step onto the piano and play their favorite songs, just like Tom Hanks did in the movie. The dance-on piano project was one of our first major projects as a company and it remains one of our proudest accomplishments. We were honored to have the opportunity to work with such a well-known and beloved brand and to bring one of their visions to life. The Walk-On Floor Keyboard for FAO was one project in a long series of “place making” projects between FAO and Entech which survived until finally FAO changed their toy business model in the face of fierce competition from rivals including Walmart.
As we continue to celebrate 30 years of innovation, we look back on this project and the many others that have helped to shape our company into the engineering powerhouse it is today. We are excited to look at more of these and much more in the upcoming year!