Tires and Fabric Replace Bricks and Mortar for Portable Store Designs
Sophisticated design, as well as mobility and easy assembly, distinguish two innovative designs in the nimble pop-up retail space.
One, developed for retailing innovator ShopWithMe, is a tent-like structure by Giorgio Borruso Design that combines the intuitive convenience of e-commerce and the tactility of conventional brick-and-mortar stores. Here’s how: Giorgio Borruso, founder of Marina del Rey, California–based Giorgio Borruso Design was charged with developing a technologically innovative, mobile store that is also scalable, quickly deployed, and suitable for testing new ideas—for any market.
The structure is made of a tensile fabric engineered to withstand multiple relocations.
Photo © Courtesy of ShopWithMe
“Perhaps the biggest challenge was to design a product that would allow a retail space to stay relevant for many years, in terms of rapidly evolving technology and the endlessly rotating, heterogenous tenants,” Borruso said. His solution: a portable, 3,000-square-foot tensile fabric structure using material from Fabritec that can stand up to the physical stress of multiple relocations and installations. The interior features custom interactive fixtures that blend a company’s online and physical experiences. A freestanding wall, dubbed the Shapeshifter, for example, is a reactive merchandise display that moves. Meanwhile, a virtual-reality dome encloses a 360-degree projector that extends the experience of the physical space into the digital realm. The ReacTable provides a readout of product information when a consumer places merchandise on its surface. Borruso outlines the advantages to tenants: “They can bring in their own databases, update graphics, and rearrange layouts in a matter of minutes, without having to invest in long-term leases or construction.”
Flexetail’s Mobile Tiny Retail unit fits in a parking space.
Photo © Courtesy of Flexetail
Joel Kamm, a veteran store designer, decided to tackle the shortcomings of an existing temporary retail option: mainstream trailers. “They’re restricted in height and are hard to set up and stabilize. Additionally, with their typical 30-plus inches of ground clearance, they can be difficult for shoppers to access, cramped, and not environmentally friendly,” he said. “Shipping containers—really more temporary, than they are mobile—are also limited by where they can be placed and they’re expensive to transport because they require a special license and union labor,” Kamm says.
To work around these restrictions Kamm developed the Flexetail Mobile Tiny Retail store (MTR). Compliant with DOT height and width requirements, the 1,300-cubic-foot volume maximizes interior space and fits conveniently in a typical parking spot.
One version of MTR measures 18’L x 8.5’W x 10’H, while a larger model is 22’L x 8.5’W x 11.5’H.
Photo © Courtesy of Flexetail
A hitch system, located under the doors, enables optional entrance designs, including steps, ADA-compliant ramps, and extended platforms. A platform lowers and lifts the entire store in seconds, making set-up and moving more efficient. But while its technology is innovative, the MTR uses the same materials, finishes, and systems as brick-and-mortar shops. Kamm thinks that familiarity in form and function puts consumers and merchants at ease. It’s also insulated and equipped with HVAC and tempered-glass doors and windows. Meanwhile, electricity is supplied via a PV-powered battery, enabling off-the-grid installations.
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