Pop-up shops are swamping every corner of London this Christmas: ELL shines a light on a different shopping experience, explores the magic behind its success and gives a guide to pop-up shops across the EastLondonLines boroughs.
As Christmas draws closer and manic gift-buying gathers urgency, the frustration with generic socks, perfumes and candles is hard to avoid. Enter the pop-up shop. Typically open with a short-term lease, it will offer much needed ‘not-on-the-high street’ gifts.
Juniper, a children’s handmade furniture and soft furnishings pop-up, opened on Stoke Newington’s Church Street last weekend, and will keep running all the way through December and January.
Geoff Howard, a Stoke Newington resident, is Juniper’s furniture designer and founder. After a decade-long career in interior design, Howard decided to return to the furniture business as he noticed “a real gap in the kids furniture market”.
In praise of independent shops, he said: “People feel a lot better buying stuff knowing where it comes from and who’s made it. They find shopping in places like Ikea depressing. It’s all mass-produced [there].”
Howard’s unique pieces of furniture are made from finished birch plywood sourced from responsibly managed forests in Finland. Inspired by Scandinavian mid-century style, all of his pieces are assembled in the shop.
Also on sale at Juniper is a collection of wooden toy cars, made by Sandy Imeson, a third-generation furniture maker from Australia. Central to Imeson’s designs is his passion for sustainable design which minimises its environmental impact. All the wooden cars are made from leftover cuts.
Becci Augur, a soft-furnishings designer, has also created a range of one-off pieces for Juniper this Christmas. Using simple geometric designs and vintage fabrics, Augur has produced blankets, cushions and wall-hangings.
For crafty creatives like Howard, Imeson and Augur, a pop-up is an opportunity to test the water with consumers.
“Pop-ups are easy to get up and running”, said Howard. “They give great insight into what people think of your work and products… you can develop what you’re selling from feedback.”
Howard added that pop-ups is very much a London phenomenon: “There are a lot of young tradespeople in east London who have a lot of creativity, ideas and drive.”
Kirsteen McNish, who curated Juniper’s interior, also praised the opportunity pop-up shops provide: “They give people that may not have the capital the possibility to showcase their stuff and find out what people like.”
She added: “People are really into the idea of pop-ups. They’ve captured people’s imaginations in London. Rather than having boarded up shops, pop-ups are keeping high streets alive. They’re keeping things vibrant.”
“The pop-up ethos is to bring people together. We feel like we’re doing something right… and we’re learning day-by-day.”
Find other pop-ups across the EastLondonLines boroughs:
A Christmas pop-up in Crystal Place on Belvedere Road sells products from local businesses, artists and traders. Open Thursday to Sunday until Christmas, it’s the good place to go if you want to give your family something unique from an eclectic mix of vintage toys, nordic furniture, and jewellery.
This pop-up mall offers a range of gifts and fashion products from east London innovators. Boxpark Shoreditch will also organise a Christmas sale on December 19.
2-4 Bethnal Green Road
Pop-up Flash Trash on Sydenham Road, part of a wider scheme to regenerate high streets, will be open until December 22. Find unique Christmas gifts like mid-century furniture from a range of craftmakers with an enticing 20-50 per cent closing down sale.
Pop-up restaurants have been another hit this year, allowing caterers to test their edible creations on the public. Catford Canteen’s ‘A Very South African Christmas’ will be an unusual spin on Christmas dinner this year.
Luxury brand The Cambridge Satchel Company has opened a pop-up in Spitalfields just in time for Christmas. This brand selling heritage-style products will offer ideal gifts.