Emily Ritche on the rise of the pop-up;
OVER the past few years, pop-up stores, cafes, bars and display suites have been coming and going in increasing numbers in countless places across the globe.
It’s a trend that is seeing more and more businesses embrace the fast-paced retail and property sectors through experimentation with more creative approaches.
One company that specialises in this short-term activation of space is Melbourne's Space Agency.
Bec McHenry (pictured), the 27-year-old chief executive, says the evolution of her business is similar to the essence of pop-up – three years ago she saw a flyer, discovered an empty space in the market and decided to fill it.
She is also adamant that, despite the temporary nature of the product, pop-up is far from a passing trend. It is quickly becoming one of the most popular short-term avenues through which businesses can analyse certain theories and markets within the scope of their long-term goals. As she puts it: “Although pop-up is a relatively new industry, what we do is definitely a trade, not a trend.”
In the three years since it began, the Space Agency has evolved to focus on “space activation”. The company mainly works with property developers, to “help them create authentic experiences of the lifestyle that patrons can expect from new developments and new precincts”, says McHenry.
It has supported Lend Lease’s Urban Renewal project, which incudes substantial new developments at Melbourne’s Victoria Harbour, Sydney’s Barangaroo and Brisbane Showground, where it was vital to simulate the living areas and community precincts.
“You can’t just point to a plan any more and say, ‘See, this is what it’s going to be.’ Instead you have to demonstrate for and physically engage with people in the short term,” McHenry says.
Pop-up is also a temporary tool that businesses can use to create simpler avenues for wider brand recognition and customer engagement over time.
She says: “Through our work we’re seeing an interesting trend that we’ve coined ‘cool by association’, which means that brands and businesses are being very clever about how they associate with others and the experiences to which they attach themselves”.
McHenry is optimistic about the future: “Although the bar does need to be lifted, it’s clear that people simply don’t engage with retail in the same way anymore and that’s exciting”.
Although pop-up is a relatively new industry, what we do is definitely a trade, not a trend