London's spectacular show homes create perfect pop-up shops

Talented young design graduates, craftsmen and creatives are being invited to use developers’ show homes throughout London to pop-up their shops.
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Pop-ups are spreading across London, offering fresh and exciting ways to showcase the work of young and innovative designers, film-makers and chefs. Yet-to-be-filled spaces in new housing and commercial developments provide perfect venues.
This week, a foodie pop-up has set up home in Nine Elms, the huge regeneration project between Vauxhall and Battersea. Culinary pioneers Radical Dining Society and communications specialists Five have joined forces to create Walk on the Wild Side, a five-day festival that runs until Saturday. They have taken over the roof terrace and marketing suite of Embassy Gardens, developer Ballymore’s riverside scheme next to what will be the new US Embassy.
Cocktails and ceviche — a central American seafood speciality — are served on the first and second floors, with a £25 general admission charge. Harvey Nichols is supplying champagne and Raffles nightclub DJ Tony is providing the entertainment. Dinner is hosted on a terrace that overlooks the Thames. Chef Toby Cartwright has created a six-course tasting menu for £75 served at 7.30pm or 9.30pm. See
“This is a great opportunity Ballymore has given us,” says Radical Dining Society founder Julia Macmillan. “It gets to show people what it is doing in Nine Elms, while we get to use an amazing venue. We hope to do more pop-ups in collaboration with Ballymore and other property developers.”


Stars of the future: Street Feast and Everyman Cinemas are hosting summer film nights at Battersea Power Station as new homes spring up around them
The boss of the redevelopment of nearby Battersea Power Station, Rob Tincknell, is a big advocate of pop-ups, as is his head of design, David Twohig.  “We allow the public access to the area so they can see what is going on and take part in our long-term aim for the project,” says Twohig. Everyman Cinemas and Street Feast are running movie nights this summer in the grounds of the Art Deco power  station.
With more than 2,000 housing schemes and 230 retail and residential towers in the pipeline in London, making use of the sites before completion is sensible. Show homes can offer the perfect backdrop for new design graduates, craftsmen and creatives. Isobel Dennis, director of exhibition group New Designers, says: “London property developers should open up unused spaces for young designers, as long as they comply with health and safety requirements.
“Anyone who visits Milan Design Week will know that the richness in the choice of work is complemented by the warehouses and buildings in development that are used as pop-up showcases. These spaces are interesting, urban, edgy environments to display work.”
She urges developers in areas such as King’s Cross, City Road or Old Street to use talented designers to dress their show flats with their work, and says viewers could purchase pieces direct for the new homes they buy.
Luxury residential developer Londonewcastle encourages fledgling and innovative interior designers to temporarily transform show flats and public spaces. Sales and marketing director Peter Allen says: “Look out for Marco Brambilla’s video art installation in the lifts at our new 62-68 Rosebery Avenue development in Clerkenwell, or Jason Bruges Studio’s lighting installation in the lobby at The Henson, Camden. 
“We are working with the RCA interior design course on a pop-up project, and Patternity, Reworks, Designmarketto, Minimalux, Triple-Major and the Bartlett School of Architecture have ‘popped-up’ in The Project Space, our site in Redchurch Street, Shoreditch.
“Our co-founder Robert Soning has long held the belief that the world of fashion, art and design overlap, and that Londonewcastle is really in the fashion business — it’s just that our canvas has four walls.”


Fresh ideas: a show flat at The Henson in Camden, where Jason Bruges Studio has a lighting installation in the lobby
Developer St James has gifted use of a ground-floor shop and two-bedroom apartment in its Nine Elms Riverlight scheme to the Royal College of Art. The RCA Riverlight Project Space, which opens next month, will allow emerging designers to exhibit their work in a professional and public zone, with an ever-changing display.
Regen has teamed up with Bow Arts to host a marketing gallery at its new Aberfeldy Village scheme in Poplar, which is aimed at bringing locals through the door. “The current installations by locals turn materials used for construction into art displays,” says senior sales manager Mark Ottley.
Meanwhile, leading art consultancy Art Acumen has teamed up with 6 Bevis Marks, an Aldgate office building developed by AXA Real Estate, to offer young film-makers a chance to showcase their work on a 15-metre video wall on the ground floor. Tonight, the shorts will be screened at a private event attended by movers and shakers. The hope is that investors will fund the film projects. Plus, the influential figures get to check out the new commercial space — a win-win situation.
The most forward-thinking developers are sure to appreciate the value in designating unused areas to the rising stars of London’s art and design scene. From furniture makers to interiors experts, the bright young things shaping our future homes deserve the space to show us all just what they can do

Victoria Umansky, Central Saint Martins textiles graduate

"Exhibiting through trade fairs, galleries or stockists can be a huge financial risk for young designers. Pop-ups can be a big help as work gets showcased to a wide and varied audience. They also offer a great opportunity to connect with other artists and broader communities. Showing work in stunning spaces such as Battersea Power Station would be amazing. Property developers buying up space not only have a civic but a moral obligation to give back in any way they can to compensate for, and maybe even help avoid, the homogenisation of London that they risk."


Sky Siouki: "It's good to find out what the public thinks"
Sky Siouki, Nottingham Trent University textile design graduate
"Pop-ups are a great way to give a new collection a testing ground. Before you produce stock in bulk it's a really good idea to find out what the public thinks. It would be very exciting to display my work against the backdrop of London’s new developments."
Sam Lloyd, Kingston University product & furniture design graduate
“Discovering new products and pieces in new London developments that haven't been used to showcase design talent before is an appealing concept. Pop-up shows are relatively cheap to arrange and quick to set up. The temporary factor means that people are more likely to spontaneously buy things from emerging designers.

Left: Douglas Pulman. Right: Sam Lloyd

Douglas Pulman, Plymouth University 3D design graduate and winner of the 100% Design Award at London’s annual New Designers exhibition
"Having work framed by beautiful architecture in London’s new spaces would dramatically enhance the air of professionalism already seen in the amazing quality of work at New Designers. I think this is something that could be beneficial for the property developers and landlords as well as the designers."

Sevak Zargarian, Central Saint Martins ceramic design graduate
"Developers should start tapping into the large network of design graduates as useful resources. We are more open to trying out new things and working in different ways compared to someone who may have been going at it for a while and has established a constant style and body of work."

Terry Dynes, Central Saint Martins Fine Art graduate

"The availability of empty property to artists benefits the artists, the property developers and the wider community. The artists receive free or reduced rate space to carry out exhibitions and projects they otherwise may be unable to do. The developers receive tax breaks and the knowledge they are helping to encourage London's creative community as well as taking art to a broader audience beyond the established art centres."

 Paige Cartledge, London College of Communication surface design graduate
"London studio and shop spaces are so expensive to rent, so opening up empty sites to makers would be very beneficial. Even if we were to pay a small rental fee, it would be great to utilise the spaces to showcase and sell our work, allowing us to reach a wider variety of clients."
Jonny Blayneyand and Tom Whiteway, furniture designers and Central Saint Martins product design graduates
"One of the big hurdles for our studio (Dome Studio) and many small companies is getting your work in front of people. This is so crucial for furniture - something people are less likely to buy online without seeing and testing. If more London property developers supported pop-up models then it would allow fledgling businesses to get off the ground."
Ellie Corp, The CASS silversmith graduate
"I would jump at the opportunity to display my work at London’s new developments. These spaces would not only be beneficial for those who were showing work, but would also bring new interest and visitors to these temporarily empty spaces."
Camilla Lambert, Brighton University Design and Craft graduate and winner of New Designers NotOnTheHighStreet Associate Prize
"No matter how temporary, I think pop-ups are the ideal solution for young designers to have a platform to offer something fresh and exciting to unused spaces at graduate friendly rates. It is also important for the surrounding residents to have a continual flow of new ideas, instead of leaving spaces in an empty and dull state."
Emma Gurner, Folds Inside founder ( 
"Our company, Folds Inside Ltd, is a platform for young designers, representing them and showcasing their products at London-located pop-up events. To set up shop within a pop-up scenario has recently become very popular but it is still hard to source appropriate venues that are cost effective, flexible and without the need to commit long term. I think London developers are missing a trick as the demand is definitely there."
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