How Architecture Inspires Pop-up
Let’s play a stimulating round of an awesome trivia game I just invented: Architect or Retail Marketer?
Who is trying to tell a visual story?
Who must actively consider lines, paths and traffic patterns?
Who can use pop-up to great advantage?
Take your time…
You may be surprised to know that the correct answer to all three questions is “both.” Not surprised? Fine. But weren’t you just a little surprised at the “pop-up” part?
Well, I was. I had never really thought about temporary structures as pop-up. But an illuminating piece on curbed.com changed my viewpoint. It also featured one of the most aspirational word combinations ever: “design that is undiluted.”
Called “The Rise and Rise of Pop-up Architecture” and authored by Marnie Epstein-Mervis, the article explores the concept of architecture in pop-up form from historical and modern perspectives. Through time, it seems the most valuable quality of pop-up architecture is its unfettered, uninhibited, unlimited opportunity for untainted creative thinking.
Look at what I think is the critical paragraph in Epstein-Mervis’s piece. When I replace “architecture/architect” with “retail/retailer,” you begin to see where the excitement comes from and where the possibilities begin:
“Pop-up retail offers something rare: design that is undiluted. Traditional, permanent retail often needs to serve multiple purposes… and changing surroundings. Retailers must incorporate the demands of building owners, financial backers, and users. By contrast, pop-up retail can advance a singular purpose and concentrate its impact. Pop-ups can also precipitate economic development and community engagement, sometimes in underserved or undeveloped areas. Temporary themselves, pop-up structures can be a catalyst for lasting change.”
Retail marketers should look at pop-up through the eyes of the architect, who views the medium as a chance to freely experiment and explore and discover new ideas without the glare of criticism or fear of traditional “failure.”
Pop-up means temporary, and being temporary removes some of the high stakes of a retail endeavor. Pop-up retail is a lot of things: brand building, product moving, attention grabbing, mind changing. What it is not is forever, which makes it the ideal medium for retailers and brands to take some chances and challenge some expectations
The goals of the fixed-location retail environment are different from those of a pop-up shop. At the most base level, the first is about sales, the latter is about showmanship. This perspective encourages the examination of non-traditional ideas and the creation of experiences that are “undiluted.”
Undiluted ideas are those that are pure and true and from the gut. When creating a pop-up strategy, it is sometimes a good idea to listen to that gut. Pop-up retail is the place to push boundaries and try new things. Retail marketers should view retail pop-up as a playground for ideas, a lab to test concepts, a stage for brand expression and an incubator for “wild” ideas.
It’s difficult for a pop-up retail event to fail completely. And when it’s driven by undiluted ideas, the architecture of a retail pop-up is a captivating place where unconstrained notions matter above all, and failure is just a fleeting thought.