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Cultivating pop up at RMIT University


Melbourne’s always-innovative RMIT University has embraced our pop up culture on a number of levels… not only exploring the concept as a topic within teaching programs, but also applying the pop-up model to actual installations (and looking forward to other opportunities…)

This morning I attended the launch of a new pop up precinct at RMIT – with official speeches, media, flags and a brass bell (not sure what the bell was for, I missed that part of the proceedings !) The A’Beckett Urban Square project occupies a site down behind the Swanston Academic Building (SAB), as an interim measure until the site is eventually re-developed by the University. The 2800sq.mtrs of street-level, open space now features sporting courts, landscaping and an outdoor BBQ / function area available to students and staff – also for the wider CBD community (the Urban Square is open all hours). RMIT Vice Chancellor and President, Professor Margaret Gardner AO, has described the “new urban landscaping pop up… as a welcoming and vibrant recreational destination”.

The reason why I missed the start of the Urban Square launch… I was inside the SAB, chatting with pop up operators Meron and Fortuna from The Classic Future. They’re now into a 2nd week of pop up, offering their range of fashion and jewellery to passing students and staff. The pop up retail space has been provided by the University, complete with sales counters, video screen and merchandising systems… all the girls had to do was arrive with stock, re-arrange a few things and open the doors !  Pop up is certainly part of a strategy for The Classic Future – they plan to operate an on-line store with occasional pop-up appearances, using social media and a “collaborative” model (sharing opportunities with complimentary brands) to build their business.

These Melbourne-based sisters have recently been students of RMIT’s NEIS program – which provides training and mentoring support for small business start-ups. Part of the program offering is the opportunity to host an actual retail store – within a dedicated pop up space inside the SAB. The short-term “tenancies” are only available to students and associates of RMIT programs – applicants must submit a detailed proposal of their business objectives and details of insurance etc – also negotiate the terms and rates of their tenancy (…I’m sure the application process alone is a valuable exercise in preparation for the real world…)

Elsewhere within RMIT… the Visual Merchandising program (in the school of Architecture and Design) covers the principles and applications of pop up. At last week’s Industry Night, the VM students displayed examples of various projects – including this year’s proposal for a luxury brand’s pop up installation. And, on the edge of the SAB today I also noticed a “Pop Up Seating Area”… not sure what that is (it had chairs and tables inside, not much else…)

Looking ahead for pop up around RMIT… well, there are certainly other initiatives in the pipeline. Some of the concepts I hear are very exciting (but not ready to publish just yet). As a leading learning and practical institution, RMIT certainly seems well-advanced in the exploration and applications of pop up around this city (and beyond…)

RMIT University logo

Featured image : RMIT University


Other images : RMIT A’Beckett Urban Square, Pop Up Shop, Pop Up Seating


RMIT A'Beckett Urban Square

Urban Square Launch 1    Urban Square Launch 2

RMIT Pop Up Shop    RMIT Pop Up Seating space







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