Pop-up design

Şule Bek

Published Apr 14, 2021

Pop-up means to appear or happen, especially suddenly or unexpectedly. Based on its meaning, the concept evolved in architecture as well and led to the emergence of a new design understanding. In this design approach, one may not be able to see the place the following week, he or she met on the street a week ago. Because this is the primary purpose of these places. They appear for a certain period in a particular place or area and then disappear. Moreover, we can come across these places in a completely different way. Sometimes as a restaurant, sometimes as a social responsibility project, sometimes as a store. So, they become a simple marketing object. It may not always be as lucky to encounter such places, the opportunity to experience these places through social media and promotions in this case. This is the reason for being preferred in design due to its different concept applicable validity in each (Çakmak 2017). The most important feature of the pop-up architecture is to create and to maintain a different place experience with surprising methods. Pallasmaa and Zumthor, who emphasize the main reason for pop-up space is to create a very sensuous experience with codes recalling the memories of the past (Cordan & Karagöz 2012).

The concept of pop-up first appeared in 58 BCE in Rome, where Ancient Romans used this concept as a revolutionary form of temporary architecture to overcome the government opposition for permanent buildings like amphitheaters and others, by building temporary ones (Epstein-Mervis 2016). By developing around this attitude, its use has diversified and spread throughout history.

Kiosks or event stands that are set up and removed for a celebration, such as a stand for Christmas, Valentine's Day, or Halloween celebrations are considered to be the first examples of the pop-up. After these, shops, bars, clubs, and restaurants started to appear in this context, and the use of pop-up spaces started to spread, and make progress. The concept continued to be used by brands such as; Vacant, Target, Comme des Garçons, Gucci, Louis Vuitton, and so on, where the spaces were designed reflecting their particular corporate identities. Parallel to this global movement, the concept started to be used by Vakko in 2007 and continued with Beymen and other brands in Turkey (Cordan& Karagöz 2012).

The main purpose of the pop-up is to create temporary spaces by making the most efficient use of time and materials to create curiosity (Griffiths 2012). The peculiarity of the pop-up space is that it appears surprisingly, creating an unexpected experience or excitement, and then disappearing suddenly. The intriguing effect is known to be unforgettable for the human, which increases its’ use. Some of the essential parameters for its prevalence can be listed as follows:

  • Low-cost: It offers a more economical alternative to many surrounding buildings or shops, shopping malls, and cafes providing maximum effect at minimum cost with its’ surprise and continuity of experience. This is also achieved by the selection of affordable materials and furniture due to its recyclability (Bardsley 2016).

  • Rapid applicability: It requires a speed of transience and transformability in the space. Due to its ability to be anywhere, it can be achieved with practical design solutions and light materials. Puma City, designed by LOT-EK and The Push Button House, designed by Adam Kalkin, are two good examples of this quality of pop-up architecture (Karagöz 2012).

  • Use of text and graphic elements: One-on-one interaction can be provided in the pop-up venue, the message and message delivery management are necessary. Graphics and visual expression come into play in this regard. The message desired to be delivered by drawing attention to its purpose (Karagöz 2012).

  • The adaptability of the design: With the spread of pop-up areas, the spaces that can be transformed in the sector have taken a prominent place with the ease of being used in various functions in different places. This quality makes the concept of pop-up a critical parameter of the design. Pop-up restaurants opened by the Electrolux brand to strengthen the brand image are an excellent example of adaptive design.

-  Creation of illusion: In the pop-up space design, using illusion as a design tool is one of the ways to create engaging, memorable, and surprising places that surprise the target audience. With the help of mirror-coated surfaces and LED lighting, the feeling of infinity is strengthened through illusion (Karagöz 2012).

  • Ability to be reused or recycled: Even the massive temporary structures can be dismantled, leaving minimum or no sign on its site, and parts can be reused or recycled. Dutch designers Rikkert Paauw and Jet van Zwieten create buildings from waste materials and furniture, which are then moved to a convenient place where they are used to erect temporary structures (Griffiths 2012).

In a world with growing consumption instincts today, architecture is becoming more disposable. As an outcome of this global intent, the pop-up design is becoming more popular every day and these temporary spaces seem to become more preferable than the permanent ones.


Bardsley, C., (2016). Why is the pop-up store becoming so popular? [online] Unibox [Viewed 30 March 2020]. Available from: https://www.unibox.co.uk/news-inspiration/why-pop-store-becoming-so-popular 

Cordan, Ö. and Karagöz, E. (2012). Pop-up Mekan: Tasarım ve Ötesi (Pop-Up Space: Design and Beyond). Mimarlık Dergisi [online]. [Viewed 20 March 2020]. Available from: http://www.mimarlikdergisi.com/index.cfm?sayfa=mimarlik&DergiSayi=393&RecID=3478 

Çakmak, E., (2017). Bugün Var Yarın Yok: Pop-Up Dükkanlar [online]. Manifold [Viewed 1 April 2020]. Available from: https://manifold.press/bugun-var-yarin-yok-pop-up-dukkanlar 

Epstein-Mervis, M., (2016). The Rise and Rise of Pop-Up Architecture: How temporary design became mainstream [online]. Curbed [Viewed 20 March 2020]. Available from: https://www.curbed.com/2016/3/9/11180920/architecture-history-temporary-banksy 

Griffiths, A., (2012). Pop-Up Stars: Temporary Contemporary Architecture [online]. Archi Tonic. [Viewed 30 March 2020]. Available from: https://www.architonic.com/fr/story/alyn-griffiths-pop-up-stars-temporary-contemporary-architecture/7000683 

Karagöz, E., (2012). Pop-Up Mekan Tasarımı ve Pazarlama İlişkisi. Graduate Thesis, Istanbul Technical University. [Viewed 30 March 2020]. Available from: https://polen.itu.edu.tr/handle/11527/12173