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First look: Pop-Up Beijing

A beautiful home décor shop that doubles as a creative space

Amy Chung 

The backstreets of Sanlitun South just got a little bit hipper with the arrival of Pop-Up Beijing, a home décor shop that lifts Chinese antiquities from the rubble and revitalises them with a touch of rustic modernity.

Wedged between the buzzing restaurants behind Pacific Century Plaza’s car park between Jing A and The Local, the newbie shop spices things up with a stunning showroom that strives to be more than just a beautiful storefront.

Launched by design duo Vito Zhang and Glenn Schuitman, Pop-Up Beijing has a familiar aura akin to Lily’s Antiques (the gorgeous, multi-level, furniture shop located in the outskirts of Gaobeidian, Beijing’s famed furniture market).

popup exterior

Pop-Up's front door

That’s because Schuitman, a Kiwi designer by trade and management consultant in his previous career, was Lily’s former chief designer and stylist for two years before branching out on his own. Zhang, an entrepreneur previously with engineering firm ARUP, met Schuitman while working on a project together for Beijing water conservation NGO, Thirst.

The two have not abandoned their commercial projects entirely. To the rear of the showroom is their newly renamed design studio, Pop-Up Creative, where the two work on projects for clients.

The 160sqm loft-like space is artfully decorated with works by emerging Chinese artist Kim Xu (starting 4,500RMB); centuries-old Qing and Ming-styled shelves, tables and chairs that are lacquered up in contemporary, bright hues, to contrast the aging wood.

Custom tables, couches and chairs made from elm and walnut wood can also be made to order at their Beijing factory. At the centre of the showroom sits a simple, round, lacquered white table listed for 8,000RMB, while a larger, solid elm wood table fitted with quirky and playful garden hoes beneath as cross braces runs for 16,000RMB.

popup cupboard

Pop-Up's mao gui (cat cabinet)

One of our favourite pieces was the ‘mao gui’ or cat closet, a mahogany antique food pantry (14,550RMB) that had the characters for the four seasons inscribed on it, signifying the piece probably belonged to a posh family.

Wooden frames shielding the shelves beneath the pantry were intended to keep your cat’s paws off the food.

teapots at popup beijing

Pop-Up's porcelain

Dotted around the lower deck of the shop are potted herbs and succulents (40RMB) and glistening, handmade porcelain vases (1,540RMB), tea sets (785RMB) and cups (28 RMB) by an artist fondly referred to as ‘Brother Wang’ from Jingdezhen, the ‘porcelain capital of China’, lending the space some country charm.

Comical pillows shaped with prints of sardines, cupcakes and baguettes (starting 265RMB) by local label PoOtsh! are a fun addition to any home.

With a new liquor licence in hand, Schuitman plans to put a handful of tables inside the shop where he will serve espressos and wines selected by Aman’s sommelier, Krishna Hathaway.

More than that, Pop-Up aims to share their space with the artistic community by transforming it with pop-up events such as monthly flea markets by emerging designers, wine tastings, art exhibitions or Sunday afternoon jazz, for instance.

‘It’s called Pop-Up not because we’re transient, but "pop-up" because we want to head up events and have them popping up in our space,’ Schuitman says. ‘We want to show curated living, not just with interiors or homewares, but a selection of things that really enhance people’s lives… whether that’s a beautiful vase we designed or a really good cup of coffee. Something that lifts someone’s spirits and makes them feel special for a moment. That’s our central ethos. We don’t write it anywhere, but gradually, we hope it will become more apparent.’

Pop-Up Beijing Office 22, 4 Gongti Bei Lu (located near the west gate of the 1949 compound) Chaoyang district See full address details

  • 4 out of 5 stars