16 Smart Ideas for the Center of Your Pop-Up Store

After acquiring a pop-up store venue, we often lose no time covering the walls with storage shelves, clothing racks, graphics and artwork. At the same time, we quickly forget what lies inside those walls: an entire central space that deserves equal attention. Central island displays, often highly visible from the street, invite visitors inside almost like a second storefront window. They allow you to direct the flow of customers through the store or bring them to meet around a focal point. And, of course, it creates an additional surface for displaying your products! What furniture you choose all depends on your style. To inspire you, here are 16 smart design ideas.

1- A warm welcome

Behind the bay window, a wood carving on a row of pillars stages the unique look of this space, located near the Square du Temple in Paris. It’s like entering a place of enlightenment or a secret room, in the style of a palace or temple. The central space is organized around a solid wood table that serves as a place of communion and communication, exchange and discovery, and sharing. Here is a highly symbolic representation of the famous central island: it’s the heart of your shop or gallery, an opportunity to connect with visitors!

2- Flexibility and color in endless supply

This design lets you create multiple central islands and add color for an atmosphere that is playful and inviting. Here, shelving that looks like a metal dessert trolley is painted a striking royal blue, a color that is sure to inspire fashion lovers. If you leave the area underneath this style of island open and free from products, then, as you see here, the eye continues to move around the room. That way, single or multiple islands won’t visually clutter the space but will brighten everything up while providing extra surfaces for displaying products.

3- A vintage table, just like home

In keeping with the idea of drawing visitors into your pop-up store and creating a welcoming atmosphere at the center of your retail space, a vintage kitchen table does just the trick! It will delight not only fans of restored or handcrafted objects, but also anyone who would love to sample the new flavors of your culinary creations. For a mise en scène that makes customers feel genuinely at home, it can also be used to display decorative tableware.

4- A living space

This showroom in the Marais seems to have a kind of lounge or private study right in the middle of the store.  With the addition of a rug, you are offering a cozy, more intimate central space to talk to your clientele about their needs, expectations, and your favorite products. Play with asymmetry: for example, angle a Scandinavian-style table on your shaggy rug. This technique will create a sense of movement, guiding customers around the store.

What style of central island is best for you?

5- Reclaimed industrial furniture?

Stores targeting a male client-base (clothes, accessories, etc.) like to use reclaimed industrial or workshop furniture, to reinforce a style that is raw, solid and timeless. What’s more, these pieces are often long and somewhat narrow, which allows you to maximize the length of your space, letting the flow of customers evolve among the clothes racks and this horizontal display unit. Get ready for some serious antiquing: be on the lookout for a cabinetmaker’s workbench, furniture from a garment factory, an antique store counter or a draper’s table!

6 – Furniture from a cafeteria or workshop?

A simple plank of unfinished timber mounted on metal kitchen cart, kitchen or cafeteria tables, or even a factory workbench: the choice is as endless as the potential for your central island. Perfect for more recessed spaces, it is bound to get your customers to the back of the store! It’s also a brilliant way to gather several guests around a single project.

7 – An old desk or table with a fresh new look?

DIY enthusiasts have no shortage of ideas when it comes to making their own central island: a 19th-century work desk painted in yellow, small, mismatched tables in different heights used like a set of nesting tables… Your space will be one-of-a-kind and your central island will stand out from the competition!

Upcycling is for everyone

8 – Cinder block island

Upcycling, the art of making an ordinary object extraordinary, is very much in vogue. Inventive and surprising, it gets customers’ attention and is good for your budget. Get creative like this New York pop-up store, which used cinder blocks for its fantastic series of central islands. Get building!

9 – Wooden pallets

If that’s not your style, you can always play around with the popular and accessible trend of shipping pallets stacked on top of each other and/or mounted on wheels.

10 – Shipping crates

One super practical idea is to arrive with your wood shipping crates, packed with your products – and after unpacking them in your pop-up store, you can then arrange them as you like to form a central island!

11 – Game tables

Playful and inviting, the central island can sometimes take the form of a foosball or pool table or even a pinball machine. For this, you’ll need a larger space intended for events and you’ll have to offer a central point that allows free movement. That’s because, if used in a small store, it will overwhelm the space without providing a surface for displaying products – and your customers will be playing instead of browsing!

Central island seating

Looking to fill the center of your pop-up store with not just furniture but customers as well? Here are 3 ideas to guide you:

12 – The showroom lounge

If you’ve got the space, then the sky’s the limit: lay down a beautiful carpet, add a sofa, armchairs and a coffee table for a lounge area worthy of a designer’s showroom! You can also go all out with a chic, eye-catching trestle table in stainless steel.

13 – Simple benches or ottomans

Even a small space lends itself to central islands and major relaxation! Opt for a cozy chair with armrests, a vintage chaise longue or a square, round or triangular bench, as seen here. It’s ideal for both displaying a few extra pairs of shoes or trying them on.

14- The real deal

And why not try a real kitchen island? Either open or with storage boxes? In this pop-up store, they perform every role: design, spatial harmony, usability, movement and a surface for working or displaying products.

15- A fresh take on columns and cubes

Classic and popular, the cubes and columns art galleries use for displaying sculpture are also perfect for your bags and accessories. Even better, our new favorite art gallery columns are those made from various materials such as Plexiglas or acrylic, which seem to disappear while letting your products stand out.

16- Make it professional, benches optional

Call upon a professional interior designer for extra assistance if the project is global and requires careful coordination of your central island and wall furnishing; that way, you will harmonize dimensions, colors and materials. Alternatively, you could purchase of a fully equipped kitchen that comes with a built-in central island. You can always add benches to make it more welcoming, like this New York event space.

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Anne-Laure Sizun
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