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June 28, 2014
An experiential alternative to staid brick-and-mortar stores, pop-up shops are like the food trucks of retail—nimble, creative, and fleeting. Pioneered by L.A. marketing firm Vacant at the turn of the millennium, the concept has evolved from being a catalyst for limited-edition retail launches to housing everything from book stores and salons to restaurants. The low barrier to entry and high commercial vacancy rate can lead to structures in which the location and goods outshine the design. But many retailers have created limited-time outlets that make an impression that lasts much longer than the lease. Here are some of Dwell’s favorite examples of the trend.
The Seek No Further Pop-Up Shop in Berlin

Seek No Further (Berlin, Germany: 2014)

Fruit of the Loom’s launch of an American Apparel-esque sub-brand was supported by twin pop-up spaces in London and Berlin created by Universal Design Studio Artist, which played with eclectic materials and a minimal style. Sarah Illenberger’s installation in the Mitte district space was like a cubist play on the traditional fruit icons.

Photo by Ragnar Schmuck

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A roving pop-up restaurant
Cube by Electrolux (Various Cities: 2012)

With the wealth of product placement available to a cooking equipment company, it’s commendable that Electrolux found a way to advertise its products experientially. The Cube, a pop-up restaurant that took root in a number of European cities, was a huge draw, booked solid through its residencies and raved about due to its retractable dining table (which made more room for post-dinner mingling). A cadre of Michelin-starred chefs made sure the dining experience matched the views.

Photos by Electrolux Appliances

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A fashion pop-up made from carved foam

Snarkitecture for Richard Chai (New York, United States: 2010)

Delivering a much bigger impression than its $5,000 price tag suggests, this fashion and fabricator’s dream is actually a massive carved foam fort, with insets to display the work of designer Richard Chai. The Brooklyn-based architects used heated wires, jury-rigged like hacksaws, to slowly slice and shape what looks like topographic tundra.

Photo by David Smith

3 / 12
A pop-up shop for a Spanish beer brand
Casa Turia (Valencia, Spain: 2013)

From the blond wood awnings to the wall garden, Case Turia, a retail store by Spanish studio CuldeSac, got people in the door even before they found out beer was involved. To showcase the dark Turia Marzen brew, the designers crafted a room that represented a modern spin on Valencia, integrating local products and a clean, crisp design as smooth as the beer’s finish.

Photo by CuldeSac

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pop-up restaurant for solo dining
Eenmall (Amsterdam, Netherlands: 2013)

Marina van Goor’s solo culinary experiment Eenmall is table-for-one testing ground. The idea is made appealing here with a minimal backdrop, carefully placed tables, and no wi-fi, features that reduce distraction and allow for a more focused, meditative dining experience. And other perk: no split checks.

Photo by Joep Niesink

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A pop-up store made from discarded materials in Tokyo
3.1 Phillip Lim (Tokyo, Japan: 2013)

Schemata Architects turned discarded material into striking displays for the fashion house 3.1 Philip Lim. With brief stops in Shinjuku and Harajuku, the stores displayed purses on wooden palettes, definitely doing away with the “no more wire hangers” rule.

Photo by Schemata Architects

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A chapel in Central Park constructed out of honeycomb
Kiss Chapel (New York, United States: 2011)

A Central Park pop-up celebrating marriage equality, this helix of honeycomb cardboard by Z-A Studio is itself a metaphor for the institution of marriage, since the two pillars can’t stand without each other. A dozen couples tied the knot under the temporary structure, which was conceived of and constructed in five days.

Photo by Roman Francisco

7 / 12
A retail display build out of cardboard tubes in Poland
Triwa Tube Tank (Poznan, Poland: 2012)

This pop-up store by Mode:lina Architekci could easily demolish any kiosk in an American mall. Straps hold together a tank-shaped block of cardboard tubes, an eye-catching structure designed to invite shoppers to experience the Swedish watch brand.

Photo by Mode:lina Architekci

8 / 12
Zaha Hadid's 2012 pop-up hair salon in London
Fudge Hair Pop-Up Salon (London, United Kingdom: 2012)

Created for London Fashion Week, this gorgeous black-and-white space by Zaha Hadid was a perfect setting for the brand to play up an edgy, angular style. A massive, white sculpture resting in the corner looked like a jagged glacier.

Photo by Zaha Hadid Architects

9 / 12
Pop-up store in Amsterdam for Frame magazine

i29 gave Frame design magazine’s pop-up shop in Amsterdam the feeling of an extensive floor plan with a series of mirrors. The straightforward concept provides additional grandeur and sophistication to the already regal interior of the historic Felix Meritis building.

Courtesy of 
i29 Interior Architects
10 / 12
Underground pop-up store in a Brooklyn subway station
Newsstand (Brooklyn, United States: 2014)

What's old was new again with the Newsstand pop-up, a retro recreation which first appeared in a Williamsburg subway station and sold independent books, zines, and records, all curated by Lele Saveri of the 8-Ball Zine Fair. It's a rare opportunity to find subway art you can take home.

Photo by Alldayeveryday

11 / 12
A pop-up tea boutique in the middle of Prague
T-Boutique (Prague, Czech Republic: 2014)

A passageway from the '30s on Na Příkopech, a ritzy street in the center of Prague, was transformed into a temple for tea from the Dilmah company earlier this year. Local design firm Studio Pha created the curved wooden structure out of birch veneer chipboard, which took advantage of existing skylights to provide an atmosphere where customers could sit and savor their drinks.

Photo by Filip Slapal

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The Seek No Further Pop-Up Shop in Berlin

Seek No Further (Berlin, Germany: 2014)

Fruit of the Loom’s launch of an American Apparel-esque sub-brand was supported by twin pop-up spaces in London and Berlin created by Universal Design Studio Artist, which played with eclectic materials and a minimal style. Sarah Illenberger’s installation in the Mitte district space was like a cubist play on the traditional fruit icons.

Photo by Ragnar Schmuck

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