What better place to kick off any Tourditch series than with our friends over at Boxpark! Considering how fresh and relevant it feels, it's a surprise to most that the ever-changing collection of handpicked retailers opened back in 2011. Back then, the Shoreditch location for Boxpark was a pioneer for the pop-up mall craze and remains a favourite to this day. Now Boxpark has expanded with sites in Croydon and Wembley, a testament to the success of their unique retail model. Strategy and operations aside, what strikes us as the standout contributor to its popularity is the genius design.
Almost every first impression of Boxpark is defined by its impressive modular structure. A whopping 60 shipping containers are spread over the two floors, hosting many individual brands. The modular nature of the site gives a great versatility; each container is home to a different brand, ranging from eateries and clothing to custom spraypainting services and vitamin IV drips! 'But how does this differ from any other shopping mall?' I hear you ask... Well, this is where the design really flourishes. The flexibility of the space allows retailers to move in and out of the units in record time, interiors can be retrofitted at a destination offsite in a matter of months and take a mere couple of weeks to be fully installed. The revolution of different brands can be constant, ensuring that the space is always updated and fresh for consumers. Designing a space like this appeals greatly to the modern consumer who seeks variety and options in their shopping experiences. By using these highly adaptable shipping containers as a framework, Boxpark has become a destination that you could visit time and time again, and always expect something different.
Roger Wade, the brains behind Boxpark, is known for his love of industrial design. Being made up of steel containers, the site appeals to this style at its core. However, it's the further accents that create a rounded décor; untreated timber flooring, benches and tables marry together with the masses of black painted steel brilliantly, softening the metal's impressive presence. These huge steel boxes could feel pretty imposing and unwelcoming, but setting them in between pale timber and bright ceilings creates a balanced aesthetic where no component feels overpowering. Additionally, masses of plants hang above head bring balance to the space, the hard industrial materials are counteracted by the natural soft shapes of twisting vines and hanging flowers. Painting the boxes black not only creates a dynamism between all the materials but actually tends to the adaptability of the space once again. Brands can bring themselves into the units without needing to adhere to an overall Boxpark design, the monochrome framework actually brings out the interiors of each retailer like the frame of a painting. Industrial materials have been a huge trend over recent years but it's super refreshing to see a site that uses them so seamlessly for both fashion and function.
By now you might have gathered that a feature close to the heart of Boxpark is how adaptable it is. A truly varied venue, you can attend regular quiz nights, music events and even sports screenings and art sessions – all experiences enhanced by the modular nature. The units are laid out to all face into different communal areas, bringing consumers together both pre and post-purchase. These areas encourage visitors to soak up the diversity, sat right in the middle of it all it's hard not to let your eyes travel around, taking it all in. As well as some permanent canteen-style tables and benches, black wooden boxes make up various seating areas that can be moved around to create surfaces of multiple uses - be that a platform for a host with a mic or even moved completely out the way, increasing floor space for a dancefloor. You can tell that Boxpark has been designed with the customer in mind, not only are they given the amazing breadth of retailers but are guided by the layout to always be a part of the whole experience, making the most of the free events and opening their eyes to the massive range of choices available within the space.
We love Boxpark Shoreditch, and it's easy to see why! A cleverly designed destination that maximises how their customers interact with the space has to be commended. Such a versatile structure and personality keeps us constantly looking forward to seeing what's next. Job well done Boxpark.