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Architecture faculty, students design successful pop-up shop for ISU Fashion Show 2015

April 30, 2015

The pop-up shop pavilion, designed by architecture lecturer Jungwoo Ji and fifth-year student Han Kwon, was installed outside Parks Library to promote the Iowa State Fashion Show 2015.


AMES, Iowa — When the Iowa State University Department of Apparel, Events and Hospitality Management sought a fresh new element for its popular, student-run Fashion Show, organizers turned to an architecture faculty member for help designing and building its first-ever pop-up store.

Last fall, Kyung Eun "Jenn" Lee, Seoul, a graduate student in apparel, merchandising and design who has experience with pop-up retail, approached Jungwoo Ji, an ISU lecturer in architecture and a principal of eu.k architects in South Korea, to work with the Fashion Show 2015 committee on a design for the proposed shop on central campus.

While the pop-up shop's three undergraduate student directors oversaw planning, marketing, fundraising, branding and other aspects of the project, they asked Ji to develop an inexpensive but eye-catching temporary structure to house the pop-up shop, which would house recycled clothing for purchase, free refreshments and stylists offering free hair, nail and makeup services.

"At the time it wasn't possible to incorporate the project with a studio, so I invited some students to help outside of class," Ji said.

Everyday materials, unusual use
In January, fifth-year architecture student Han Kwon, Incheon, South Korea, worked with Ji on a design concept based on using everyday materials in an unusual way. They settled on timber framing clad with white plastic laundry baskets, "a basic tool which is related to clothing as well as a shape similar to a thimble, a basic tool of the fashion industry," Ji explained.

In practical terms, the materials were chosen both for their ability to withstand weather and to fit within the $5,000 budget, he said. The goal was to find a balance between functionality, aesthetics, cost and transportability.

"It was unique to figure out how to put everything together so that it will actually stand against wind," Kwon said. "Coming up with the right size so that transportation could be easily done and trying to cut down the cost so that we could create the most efficient structure was a big part" of the project.

Ji and Kwon also designed the 15-foot-by-60-foot structure, which they call a pavilion, in sections so that it could be more easily moved, installed and stored.

"We had to make something that was going to be flexible and that we could move under a time constraint," Ji said.

Ji and four students transported the pavilion—constructed of dimensional lumber and plastic laundry baskets attached with plastic cable ties—in sections and assembled it overnight.

Easy assembly
Once the design was finalized, Ji and Kwon sought assistance from second-year architecture students BoHyun Chang, Suk "Paul" Lee and Sung Woo Park, all from Seoul and members of the Iowa Korean Architecture Student Association, to help construct the pavilion.

In February, the team began assembling the structure in Kwon's garage. They built the frame and drilled small holes in the lumber to attach the laundry baskets with plastic cable ties, which are unobtrusive as well as easy to apply and remove. The team then installed about 70 percent of the laundry baskets. Because the entire structure would not fit in the vehicles they were transporting it with, the remaining baskets would wait to be installed on site.

At about 9 p.m. the night before the pop-up event, Ji and the students transported the nine sections of the pavilion to ISU's Parks Library.

"Moving the pieces was actually a fun and unusual experience," Ji said.

Kwon sat in the back of a trailer and held onto the structure as they drove through a spring storm. "It was raining and snowing at the same time. We were cold and a little bit worried, but eventually the weather changed and then it was great," he said.

With help from the students on the Fashion Show's pop-up shop committee, the frame was reassembled and the laundry basket façade was completed for the shop to open the morning of Friday, April 10.

Ji, center, with students Sung Woo Park, Han Kwon, Paul Lee and Bo Chang in front of the pop-up shop pavilion at Parks Library.

Unique attraction
"The point behind a pop-up shop is to spring up out of nowhere with no warning," said Wendee Cooper, Garwin, a senior in apparel, merchandising and design and one of the shop's directors. The project had been promoted in advance on social media, but details of its location, products and services were kept a secret until the day of the event.

The pavilion was installed in a recessed area at the library.  

"We wanted a central location on campus, but we wanted it to be a unique location," Cooper said. "Underneath the overhang at the library has never been an event location before, so we were excited to be the first to use it."

The pavilion provided a visually interesting home for the Fashion Show 2015's pop-up shop, which featured recycled clothing for purchase, free refreshments and free styling services.

More than 360 people visited the pop-up shop on April 10 and nearly all goods in the shop were sold, she said.

"The structure itself was very alluring to students passing by," Cooper said. "Many were so curious about what it was that they came just to ask, and many took pictures without even coming into it because they thought the structure was so appealing."

By adjusting the angle of the laundry baskets, Ji was able to create spatial movement, he said. He also varied the façade by cutting the bottom out of some of the baskets, which allowed wind and light to penetrate and move through the structure.

Mirrors were placed in some of the laundry baskets for use by stylists who offered free hair, nail and makeup services.​

"In the natural light it created very interesting shadows and at night we found if you shine artificial light on it, it creates very beautiful patterns," Ji said.

To customize the space for the event, Ji also inserted mirrors inside select baskets that were used by the stylists within the pavilion.

"Overall we wanted to use basic techniques and materials to create an extraordinary effect," he said.

"I think the architectural design elements were a good fit to this year's pop-up shop as creativity and uniqueness were key for the store experience," Lee said.

Artificial light created striking shadows beneath the overhang of Parks Library, above, and interesting facade patterns when the pavilion was reinstalled at Stephens Auditorium, below.​​

Successful project
After the pop-up shop event ended, the team disassembled the structure and reinstalled it on April 11 at C.Y. Stephens Auditorium, where the Fashion Show 2015 took place.

"Working with Professor Ji and his students, we learned how much hard work and time goes into building a structure from the design step to the finished product," Cooper said.

The Fashion Show committee plans to continue to use the pavilion structure and make the pop-up shop an annual event, she said.

Kwon learned valuable communication and planning skills through this project, he said. "Understanding what exactly both of the departments need and how fast we can get things in our hands was very important in the process.

"Being able to see people interacting with the structure and activities happening in a space we designed was one of the best experience that I've ever had," he said.

Jungwoo Ji, Architecture, (914) 419-4589,
Han Kwon, Architecture student, (515) 357-1244,
Wendee Cooper, Apparel, Merchandising and Design student, (641) 499-2288,
Jaden Urbi, Design Communications,
Heather Sauer, Design Communication, (515) 294-9289,