X+Living Transforms the Global Flagship Store for POPMART in Shanghai into a Trendy Space Where Art, Design and Sculptures are Infused with Trendy Pop Toys to Appeal to Gen Z Clientele

As a leading pop culture and entertainment company in China, POPMART has been committed to injecting new creative drive into China's pop toys industry. Joining hands with X+ Living, the design team deconstructed the brand's culture and products to incorporate modern new elements of digital media, creating a flagship store full of futuristic and technological elements

Located at the busy crossroad of Nanjing East Road, X+Living took advantage of the unique opportunity for display and created a giant storefront spanning four storeys high. Brand logo and product elements were exacted to design a simple yet fantastical and impactful decorative façade, radiating the brand's unique identity to the whole block and creating a landmark pop toy culture experience centre.

A pearly white gradient facade appears on the street scene where the designer has used colours and planets as design inspirations for the space. This futuristic visage resembles the boundary between two different times and spaces, dividing the external real world from the internal fantasy world. The giant eye-catching pop toy IP above the façade conveys a sense of mystery under the gradient lighting, forming a splendid street scene, like a standing milestone in the new world. As one steps into the first floor retail area, one is embraced by the ceilings, floors and walls all suffused with colours, which dissolve at the end of the line of sight, blossoming into another bright and magnificent scenery, as if they are different spaces growing naturally and nesting together. Colours have been used to promote individuality, strengthen the pop toy products with distinctive attitudes and echo the brand’s tone advocating youthfulness. Coloured acrylic materials are used both on the regular square display cabinets and the special-shaped display racks. The designer’s extreme dedication from the use of colour to the customization process of the shapes successfully achieved a delicate and transparent glass-like texture, showcasing the brand's sense of fashion trends and breaking the limited field of vision between display partitions.

"The spaceship to the alien world has descended the space ladder. Only thou with eternal curiosity can travel with time and enter the future world”

Inspired by one of POPMART's most signature series, Space Molly, the designer has turned the staircase to the second floor into a functional area that combines the triple attributes of transportation, aesthetics and exhibition, to depict a futuristic and pioneering space journey. The exploration of space is also like the opening up of a new world, an exciting journey with a reverence for novelty and the unknown. A silver hue invades one’s view forcefully and irresistibly, while the complicated mechanical components constitute the skin texture of space. A new identity has been given to the brand's iconic IP character Molly, who takes the form of a space traveller and arrives at a secret planet in the universe no one has ever visited. The futuristic technological mechanical rods, developing similarly to an ecological form like plant growing, presents a hypothetical new world of the future, deepening the dramatic tension of the spatial narrative. With precise composition design and fine craftsmanship of the details, the designer has created a naturally growing planet like scenery. 

The space is scattered with a number of large metal spheres embedded with electronic screens, which present information about trendy toys and act as the heart of control of this silver mechanical star, directing the conveyor belt on the ceiling to deliver products in an orderly manner. The designer has placed arched metal displays in the space, spreading to the ceiling in rows to create a sense of order, while the arc-shaped shelves on the floor are filled with toys and other merchandise, linking customers' paths of exploration. Spherical display boxes are hung from the ceiling in a chain, and the mirror reflects the light, creating a place of mechanical architecture and novelty. In order to achieve the exquisite detail of complex components, part of the structure has also been made using 3D printing technology. Facing the ultimate challenge of the unprecedented large-scale application of 3D printing technology in project construction, the designers not only had to strictly control the texture and refinement of the components, but also overcome the challenges in the assembly of 3D printing components and other materials and equipments such as wood, LED screens, light troughs, and acrylic.

In order to turn the POPMART planet from imagination to reality, challenges were broken through one after another. The integration of cutting-edge technology alludes to the concept of the new world, while the bold and innovative use of the design field also coincides with the brand's ambition to open up a new world of pop toys and entertainment for young generations. Multi-media expressions have been skillfully implanted in the space by the designer, and the changing lighting adds to the richness of the space. The bold application and integration of materials, textures, lighting and colours and the involvement of 3D printing technology and a dynamic display system have not only broken through conventional display methods, but also achieved a dimension-breaking construction of retail space design in the digital age. The creation of a "secret planet" maps out future digital poetry and successfully illustrates the brand proposition to “light up passion and bring joy”. Enjoy!

Words: Emily Leung & Nikey Cheng
Photos: SFAP
Published on January 12, 2023