Review of the year – Pop-ups

In her insight piece for us in January 2011, Julie Oxberry, managing director of Household Design, pointed to the pop-up concept as one of this year’s retail ‘must haves’, and it seems she was making a very prescient claim.

Clarins, by Sheridan and Co
Clarins pop-up, by Sheridan & Co

Oxberry pointed to pop-ups as ‘fun’ and ‘exciting’, and 2011 has seen all kinds of brands harnessing their power to drive sales.

In January, Yellowdoor used a pop-up in London’s West End as a key part of its rebranding of Clark’s Originals shoes range; which aimed to focus on youth and music.

The following month Sheridan & Co design consultancy created a pop-up shop for Clarins cosmetics brand, aiming to create consumer engagement and pre-launch promotion for the brand’s new Daily Energizers range.

Alongside shoes and cosmetics, booze brands have been one of the most ardent pop-up practitioners. Absolut recently created a very interactive movement-based pop-up installation as part of its drive to promote vodka through art and music.

Absolut's pop-up
Absolut’s pop-up

Galleries and arts organizations too, have harnessed the low-risk appeal of the pop-up, with the year seeing many exhibitions taking over other spaces for a matter of only a couple of days, such as The Museum of Everything’s Selfridges Pop Up on Oxford Street.

Pop-up cinema Nomad, for which Fitch created promotional materials this year, held its winter event in a vacant book shop in Whiteleys Shopping Centre, west London.

The last year has even seen previously online-only brands such as eBay making their first forays into a physical space using the pop-up concept. eBay opened its Christmas store in London’s Soho earlier this month, which echoes Mary Portas’ proposals in her review of the British High Street that online businesses could have temporary ‘post office’ like physical presences on the high-street in short term bursts.


Perhaps the development that epitomised the concept’s move from one-off, unusual idea to commercial ubiquity was Boxpark – the ‘world’s first pop up mall’, according to founder Roger Wade.

The development uses shipping containers, rented out to stores for either one or five year contracts, making the idea of the pop-up semi-permanent. Wade apparently also has plans for another development in the capital.

Puma at Boxpark
Puma at Boxpark

Find out whether we thought it lived up to its hype here.

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