It's fair to say that the pop up restaurant craze has taken over London, the country, and the world. And it looks like it's here to stay. Cutting edge restaurants are 'popping up' everywhere, offering customer's adventurous, imaginative food and the opportunity to be part of something exclusive and exciting. Then they disappear as quickly as they arrived, moving on to inspire new people in a new location.
In recent years we've also seen this trend spread to the retail sector, with pop up shops appearing in main London shopping districts as well as small local high streets. But what we want to know is, can this trend be applied to commercial office design?
Undoubtedly 'temporality' is an emerging theme in contemporary culture. So of course this is going to be reflected in our built environment, the way we live, work, shop, socialise and do business. It is becoming acceptable, desirable and even preferable, to occupy spaces that are seemingly unbuilt and temporary. Entrepreneurs and small start-ups are occupying vacant spaces - creating fast paced, energetic businesses with a freedom and flexibility previously unavailable. So with this new way of life is it possible to develop a language of true flexibility and mobility within commercial office design? And we're not just talking about agile working!
The philosophy behind pop up restaurants is certainly applicable. The 'pop up' concept allows business owners to exercise creativity. Showcasing big ideas with minimal financial risk. Refreshing a look, creating a buzz and generating a feeling of exclusivity. Giving the option to constantly reinvent oneself without huge expenditure.
So why might a business want to create a pop up space within their office design? Perhaps there's only a short time left on your lease but you still want to revamp your look? Maybe you're moving to a temporary space and want to create an area that reflects your company, without investing in static construction? Or perhaps you want to showcase a new concept, brand or product in a fresh, contemporary and flexible way?
When our lovely client Just Eat took short-term occupation of another floor in their current London building, they talked to TIG about what could be done to make this temporary floor feel like a permanent home.
Rather than using conventional inherited furniture and apologising for being in short-term office space, we inspired our client to embrace the temporality and express the values of a pop up culture, creating a 'pop up reception'. A contemporary concept that has true resonance with their brand values and company culture (trendy foodies!).
By looking at temporary restaurants, cafes' and social spaces in and around London, we were inspired to design a range of fully mobile elements that could be endlessly reconfigured. Maintaining a fresh, energetic and flexible space. The elements of the reception are all reusable, affordable and mobile – working within the existing ceiling and service locations, removing the need for any structural or permanent work (and the associated costs!). We created a collection of objects with upcycled finishes, all clustered under a free standing structure, and decorated with industrial pendants/exposed filament lamps. The elements can be kept together, moved around, shared between zones and floors - giving the ability to create a new language for the whole office design and not just the temporary space.
Over just one weekend TIG managed to create a new reception space, reflecting the Just Eat brand. Creating a buzz, excitement, a place to meet, greet and eat. This flexible and mobile unit captures the true sense of this new phenomenon and delivers a truly agile space for staff and visitors. The pop up craze is current, with artistic expression and creativity at its core. It's new, exclusive and most importantly, fun. So why can't we transfer this trend into the world of commercial office design and see what else we can do?
"Their flexibility throughout the construction was key."
Alan Longshaw, Director, Kajima