This week on the Barber blog we’re taking a look at the burgeoning trend of pop-up shops that have been constructed from shipping containers, starting with our favourite ‘pop-up shopping mall’ – Boxpark in Shoreditch.
Boxpark is the world’s first pop-up shopping mall. It opened in 2011 and will remain open for the next five years. Boxpark was built on a piece of land which had not been used for 40 years, creating jobs for 200 people and providing a base for both independent and established brands to create a collaborative community for shoppers and retailers. The ethos of Boxpark is to support the local community – it’s cafes and food outlets use fresh produce and homemade sauces and meats delivered daily from local markets and it describes itself as “a place where Shoreditch locals can feel at home in a new kind of retail atmosphere”.
In terms of Mary Portas’ plans for the High Street as previously discussed on this blog, Boxpark really does tick all the right boxes – for ethical innovation, urban regeneration and stimulating growth in a central shopping location – so, how does the retail interior design hold up?
Shipping containers are incredibly versatile when it comes to achieving a perfectly usable temporary structure at low cost and with minimum construction work – but this does not mean they have to look plain and boring. Slotted and stacked together like Lego bricks, the containers at Boxpark have large traditional plate glass shop window displays and on the first floor, a large outdoor wooden decking and seating area. A nod to the containers’ industrial origins is offered via the black and white chevron design and sharp capital lettering repeated throughout the mall. Inside, the retail units are clad in wood and tiles, echoing the individual characteristics of each store’s own individual retail branding concept. Pop-up retail units such as these really offer businesses a chance to play with their retail interior design concepts and experiment with brand identity. The comparatively low cost of constructing and creating each unit has presented opportunities for some stores to try new things or test concepts – for example, brands like Smiley and Abuze London and groups like Amnesty International and Art Against Knives have opened their first ever concept stores or galleries within the Boxpark shopping mall with much success.
And as a true measure of it’s success – last week, Boxpark announced plans to open a second mall in Amsterdam. Located in a disused shipyard at the Northern shore of the IJ canal, Boxpark NSDM (as it will be known) will be situated inside the former shipyard warehouse – a vast space which will house 120 converted shipping containers to make it the largest pop-up shopping centre in the world! Opening in summer 2013, the mall will only be open on weekends but will be open for 24 hours a day, playing host to concerts and festivals as well as retail opportunities. It is expected to be a big draw for both locals and tourists.