Let’s chat temporary retail experiences…
Is it just us or is the pop-up crazy hot right now? And no, we’re not saying that the pop-up ever died a death. But since physical retail got its game back post-pandemic, we’ve seen some pretty epic pop-ups hitting the highstreets. And for very good reason.
The pop-up has come a long way since its inception in 2004. What was once likened to a stunt has blossomed into the perfect opportunity for crafting brand narratives in the most innovative and memorable way. Sure, they’re temporary in the physical sense, but the impression they make can be incredibly long-lasting. Because these spaces are not simply about the products. They’re about innovation, FOMO culture and the chance for brands to offer something a little unconventional. Speaking of which, we’re certain we’ll be remembering the Tilbury x Disney collab in Selfridges Corner Shop for a hell of a long time!
Here are six brands making their mark with some unreal pop-ups in 2023:
Charlotte Tilbury x Disney
Yeah, we can’t mention just how memorable this pop-up was without talking about it a little more. Charlotte Tilbury have never been ones to shy away from exciting pop-up stores, but this latest temporary appearance took it to the next level. Taking over Selfridges Corner Shop, even passersby could not ignore the sheer scale and attention to detail of bringing the Tilbury x Disney collab to life.
From the super oversized factices of iconic products (hello giant Magic Cream) to the fairground-like games and the character driven make-up stations, the entire pop-up screamed Hollywood glamour and childlike wonder. So much so, that visitors could easily forget that they were within the walls of London’s iconic Selfridges superstore.
Yinka Ilori x Courvoisier
"BURSTING WITH COLOUR & JOY". That's the quote we read regarding the exclusive collab in Selfridges' Wonder Room, and the pictures certainly tell that story.
The colour palette is exceptional, with the cool blue tones reminiscent of the waters in France's Cognac region & the warm hues easily bringing us into the warmth of the sun. The bar itself is a wonderfully wavy canopy, representing a water fountain while the flowered seating is a nod to the the wildflowers of Jarnac - Courvoisier's hometown in France. In fact, the whole space invited customers to immerse themselves in three "repeated motifs" spanning earth, sky and water. And when they're replete with the tranquility of the space, they can return home with a Ilori x Courvoisier limited edition bottle of cognac.
But with Yinka Ilori behind the design of the pop-up, we find ourselves unsurprised by such an incredible brand experience brought to life. Yinka has long been associated with paying homage to his own Nigerian & British heritage, so it was only fitting to see him create wonderful links between brand, heritage and retail.
Elemis Cleansing Lab
Skincare is having a moment. I think we can all agree that skincare often took a back seat in comparison to cosmetics. But as our focus has shifted away from simply looking good, we’ve become mildly (well, very) obsessed with ‘what lies beneath’. Enter the Cleansing Lab from Elemis, which hit Covent Garden earlier this summer.
Notable moments included the Scent Distillation Station and Texture Taster, with both areas offering sensorial touch points for skincare fanatics. But taking a step back from the experiential side (shocking, we know) the pop-up is quite simply a visual delight. Set against the muted backdrop of Covent Garden’s architecture, the vivid colour scheme and stage-like design makes a true statement in the centre of London.
We can't pin down the innovative Jacquemus pop-ups to just one. Simon Porte Jacquemus namesake brand has become synonymous with more than luxury fashion, but playful retail experiences too. Tongue-in-cheek designs include a giant toaster popping Jacquemus bread, a launderette installation with stacks of bread and an oversized toothbrush & toothpaste design to mimic Jacquemus’ own bathroom.
And while this collection of pop-up designs may seem eclectic, the brand considers each installation to have strong roots in the French cultural imagination. Teasing us frequently on social media with some pretty wonderful AI videos, we’re exciting to see what comes next for Jacquemus’ pop-up venues in 2024.
Trip x Bumble
As pop-ups grow with both popularity and scale, we could be forgiven for thinking that only the largest and wildest activations are worthy of our time. But if the industry has taught us anything, it’s that even the smallest moments of brand storytelling can be revered by designers & visitors alike.
Earlier this year, TRIP and Bumble joined forces to create a “slow-dating” experience for their followers. Cocktail menus were complete with CBD-infused cocktails and conversation cards eased visitors into stress-free discussions with potential dates. Cute – a word not often used in retail design but certainly the adjective to describe this pop-up.
Sneaky, but we can’t end our insight into the pop-ups of 2023 without a reference to one of our favourite projects with Elizabeth Arden. Leveraging some of the most vital beauty trends in modern retail, our exclusive pop-up sites within Boots stores have been wonderfully received by peers and consumers alike.
But it’s more than the elegance of the blush pink & gold colour palette which has intrigued visitors, but the opportunity to become immersed in the benefits of luxury skincare. With a study finding that 77% of consumers have chosen, paid for and recommended a brand which offers a personalised service or experience, we developed an event for Elizabeth Arden which centred on tailored consultations and conversations.
Something all these pop-ups have in common? Sheer respect for their brand identity. While the designs may sometimes be unconventional (shout out to Skims’ swimming pool vibes in Selfridges or Anya Hindmarch’s Ice Cream Project as an added extra) the overarching brand narrative is always supremely clear. From luxury to kid-like wonder, brands have been able to draw visitors into their universe and tell some of the most interesting stories through their 'branded lens'.
2023 has been a stellar year for pop-ups, but what does 2024 hold for us....