Perhaps the most beloved prefix these days for events and design projects -- aside from 'eco-' of course -- is 'pop-up.' Where there used to be only pop-up books and greeting cards in the olden days (not that I have been around for all that long), we now barely raise an eyebrow at pop-up cardboard closets, pop-up nightclub shipping containers, and pop-up Alfred Dunhill menswear installations in the Meatpacking. Wading through the raucous daily tweets about everything and their grandmother popping up in our cities, here are some recently notable European projects that actually do pop-up, and are worth at least a snap or a crackle.
Folding completely flat when not in use, Austrian artists Liddy Scheffknecht and Armin B. Wagner's Pop Up desk furniture is made from a 3 x 9 x 6.5' cardboard sheet. While fire safety and structural support may remain questionable, the idea that an instant mobile office that can be constructed from discarded office materials deserves a vigorous nod.
In Utrecht, Dutch designers Carmela Bogman and Rogier Martens have developed a set of trio pop up benches that can be pumped out of the pavement using a hydraulic system. Created from aluminum bench platforms resting atop three retractable posts, the heights of these pieces can be individually configured to lie flat at pavement level, stand at a maximum of thirty inches, or anywhere in between. Although tabletop hygiene may be an issue, this concept of urban-furniture-as-needed breaks new ground in public and play space flexibility.
The UriLift is a cylindrical triage of individual urinals that aim to relieve the issue of public toilets, in terms of space and beautification. Popping out of the ground via the press of a button, the UriLift can be connected to the sewer system and requires minimal maintenance and cleaning. Other variations include the UriVisible (a non-retractable UriLift) and the UriLady (which comes with a toilet seat). Already installed in Esbjerg, Denmark, and a few other spots across Europe, UriLift is activated and lifted every night by remote control from a nearby bar at 10.00pm, and is lowered the next morning, when all that remains is a small circle in the ground.
From German design studio Rugwind comes the Guerilla Bench, an innocent-looking cable box that gracefully morphs into a street bench. Camouflaged as an unremarkable street object, it holds and unfolds into a comfy secret that only the neighborhood knows. (Do take a look at their well-crafted video here.)