The (staying) power of pop-up retail: Gemma Ruse gets emotive at Frame Awards 2020

StudioXAG has been on the receiving end of the Frame Awards since the platform kicked off in 2018. Known for creating bespoke windows, window rollouts, concept stores, pop-up shops, interactive experiences, events and installations for global brands, department stores and cultural spaces, the London- and Amsterdam-based studio took home People’s Choice awards at both the 2018 and 2019 editions of the Frame Awards, and two of its projects are nominated this year.

But at this week’s event, StudioXAG cofounder and creative director Gemma Ruse takes to the stage for another reason, too. During the Frame Awards by Day, she’s sharing her thoughts on the emotive power of pop-up retail. How do you create memorable moments? Ruse hopes to answer the question by looking at how brands are adapting and developing new formats to connect with customers on an emotional level, resulting in genuine lasting impressions and reinforced brand loyalty. 

‘Temporary spaces are also the perfect opportunity for brands to experiment with fresh ideas, tell new stories and try something different,’ says Ruse. ‘We’ll explore how to invigorate future spaces with a sense of discovery and constant newness.’

I remember when pop-ups entered the mainstream, their temporary nature being a fitting response to the 2007-2008 financial crisis. How has the nature of pop-ups evolved since then?

GEMMA RUSE: The role of the brand has been challenged, and so pop-ups have evolved into spaces that host events, educate customers and provide special services in order to create a meaningful connection with the consumer. It’s an exciting time for temporary retail as it gives agencies like StudioXAG the opportunity to create truly unique experiences that live in the memory longer than they do on the shop floor.

We know that humans love the novelty of newness. How do we offer something new and exciting while also considering our environmental impact?

There’s a growing awareness surrounding the sustainability – or lack thereof – surrounding temporary structures and ephemeral events like trade-fairs. How can we give such projects a second life?

It’s true that our industry can be wasteful and we’re working to make a difference. StudioXAG recently launched a company-wide initiative that aligns our strategy, processes and operations, with an aim to become sustainability leaders. Our in-house sustainability team pushes change through design, project management and production departments, taking responsibility for the whole process from concept through to fabrication and installation.

We know that humans love the novelty of newness. How do we offer something new and exciting while also considering our environmental impact? It’s important to question design strategies – to create experiences that can grow and change over time and structures that are modular and adaptable, all while offering a multitude of possibilities.

That truly feels like the future of temporary retail: to create an installation that eventually transforms into the very thing you are selling

We’ve explored these ideas when designing seasonal window rollouts. For Napapijri’s monobrand stores, we develop an evolving kit of parts that allow the windows to transform as the season progresses. These modular displays can remain in situ over multiple seasons, reducing the amount of deliveries and materials required while offering something new for the consumer. We incorporate reused and ethically sourced materials, making the most of a small number of elements for maximum impact.

In what other ways can temporary spaces live on after they’re over?

We recently created an event space to launch Napapijri’s Infinity jacket, which is 100 per cent recycled and recyclable. The jacket is the first of its kind, manufactured from Econyl, a nylon made from salvaged waste including plastics and fishing nets. Not only was the space produced with an extremely low-impact approach, almost entirely from cardboard and paper, but we also created one of the key installations using Econyl nylon. Post-event, the fabric was recycled to create new Infinity jackets.

That truly feels like the future of temporary retail: to create an installation that eventually transforms into the very thing you are selling. 

People value things for the stories attached to them

How do you imagine pop-up retail will evolve in the next five to ten years?

People value things for the stories attached to them. Pop-ups will transform to connect with customers on even deeper emotional levels by telling personalized narratives. Data and technology will allow for these temporary spaces to adapt and change depending on the user, harnessing the power of emotion and allowing for more engaging narratives to drive brand loyalty.

studioxag.com

Join our team and StudioXAG at the forefront of spatial design – get your Frame Awards tickets here.

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