Pop-ups can be great. When done right, they offer a chance for London venues to take on exciting new forms, and let struggling food vendors create a name for themselves before finding a permanent site. And other times they’re a bit... well, odd.
This year saw a slew of brands trying to board the pop-up bus (sometimes literally) and there were enough animal-themed cafés to successfully gentrify Noah’s Arc. Not one, but two pug-themed enterprises came on the scene. A micro pig pop-up was promised but never materialised. We couldn’t keep track. Here are just a few of the whacky concepts that popped up in our inboxes this year:
1. The one that turned single men into tiny 3D dolls
Surreal dating pop-ups were big in 2017. For this inspired bit of absurdity, Match.com decided to turn its top bachelors into little figurines that women could pick up off a shelf. And it was called... wait for it... Model Males.
2. The one where you spread jam on your hands
Something to do with the ‘the magic of bread’, the Toast or Hands pop-up gave visitors the option to spread their favourite toast toppings on the palm of their hands. A riposte to the clean eating movement, it was designed to show the misery of being carb-free. Or you could eat the free unicorn toast. Decisions, decisions.
3. The one-day crow cafe
Crows get a hard time, being legally classified as vermin and all. To silence the haters, a group of Londoners launched a one-day Crow Cafe, where the corvid-curious could drink coffee and hang out with magpies, rooks, ravens and jackdaws. As our writer put it, it was ‘basically goth Easter’.
4. The Fluffytorium of really fluffy animals
The Fluffytorium was basically a YouTube channel come to life: a space dedicated to absurdly furry dogs and cats. For the allergy prone it was a nightmare, for the rest of us, it was an opportunity to hug meme-y animals like chow chows, poodles and long-haired cats. The whole thing was just a big promo for a Guinness World Records book about ‘Amazing Animals’. And we’re still coughing up hair balls.
5. The ‘wellness’ shed
Perhaps the most ‘Brass Eye’ worthy of the bunch. The ‘Wellness Shed’ involved strapping on a VR headset, and pretending to slowly stir a bowl of soup to the sound of ambient music. For some reason, this had to take place in a shed. It was supposedly about using ‘mindfulness’ in cooking to help stressed-out Londoners relax. But mostly it was about selling soup.
6. The art gallery made of sweets
A Mona Lisa made of Liquorice Allsorts and a Jelly Babies installation were just two of the ‘artworks’ on display at Soho’s Sweet Art Gallery. But we suspect most visitors went straight for the floor-to-ceiling pick ‘n’ mix. You won’t be seeing jars of Cola Cubes at the Tate anytime soon though. This wasn't the start of a London art trend, but a clever marketing stunt by sugar-pushers Maynards Bassetts.
7. The café that made you exercise in exchange for food
In January 2017, when so many were low in spirits and light on funds, David Lloyd Gyms launched ‘Run For Your Bun’, a café that wouldn’t let you eat until you’d delivered a ten-minute HIIT session. Sure, the food was free, but is any lunch really worth 10 minutes of box-jump burpees? Take us back to that Sweet Art Gallery, thanks, we’ll eat the Mona Lisa face instead.
Needs more fluff? Here are 8 times Londoners were obsessed with animals in 2017