Pop-Up Beijing’s Treasure Trove of Delights: When Hoarding Turns into Art
Stepping into Pop-Up Beijing, it can be overwhelming to the untrained eye with so many things everywhere. At first glance, the space is just overflowing with beautiful wood furniture, plush couches and striking cabinets. While the ceiling is covered with hanging chandeliers and antique lamps, the walls are lined with mirrors, paintings and tall shelves filled top to bottom with ceramics, pots, figurines and vases.
It may seem cluttered or haphazard at first, but there is a method to the madness. You just need to take a step back to focus your shopping eye before you can fully begin to appreciate the beauty and uniqueness of each individual piece on display. In every corner, there are refined, quirky, stylish pieces, accented by vibrant fresh flowers alongside timeless antiques.
I commend what this reviewer wrote on CityWeekend – “From antique furniture and vintage fabrics to modern artwork and fanciful cushions, the collection here lets you break away from living in apartment that was once all-IKEA-all-the-time.” - Review by memworldwide
Definitely no IKEA here
And what truly sets this boutique lifestyle store apart from the rest is the encyclopedia of knowledge shared by co-owners Glenn Schuitman & Vito Zhang. With Glenn or Vito present, they can walk you through the stories behind every little trinket and furniture piece. Whether the piece is hundreds of years old or a new replica of an antique piece, they can explain exactly where each piece comes from, its original purpose and how the modern homeowner can either display it or put it to practical use.
“POP-UP BEIJING is a homeware, antiques, furnishing and interiors design and lifestyle store, designed as a fluid and ever-changing space, full of treasures and discoveries. We curate an evolving and eclectic collection of one-off pieces, ranging from custom-made furniture, plants and giftware, hand-crafted ceramics, Chinese rustic and heritage antiques, and antiques and vintage pieces imported directly from Belgium, France and Holland.” – Glenn Schuitman, Creative Director & Founding Partner of Pop-Up Beijing
Though I’d passed by and walked into Pop-Up Beijing on a couple of occasions, I really only became better acquainted with Pop-Up Beijing upon bringing in some out-of-town guests who were looking to refurnish their home with Asian-inspired furniture and decor. As soon as they took one look inside, their eyes popped out of their heads. They fell madly in love with the style of this boutique and were delighted by all the stories Glenn shared with us. As they surveyed the boutique from one end of the shop to the other, it was like they were embarking on a treasure hunt to pick out all the pieces they would take home with them.
“Notice the small things. The rewards are inversely proportional.” - Liz Vassey
“Here at POP-UP BEIJING we’re somewhat obsessed with the beauty of small things. Scattered amongst our furnishings and homewares, are dotted teensy treasures – from little succulents and miniature bronze statuettes, to these tiny hand-painted ceramics from Jingdezhen.” – Glenn
An incredible collection of curated treasures that they’ve picked up from around the world, Glenn and Vito are truly talented and passionate interior designers with fantastic style and taste. Though I was mistakenly under the impression at first that Pop-Up Beijing was a Pop-Up Shop, I was so relieved to learn that it’s far from temporary and rather a space open to creative “pop-up” community and culture events – hosting wine tastings, flea markets by emerging designers, art exhibitions and a relaxing Sunday afternoon of live jazz.
Keen to learn more about the two masterminds behind Pop-Up Beijing’s creation and vision, I sat down for a LDS 1-on-1 with Glenn to get more insight into his background and how he first came to start collecting, where his pieces come from, what “pop-up” events we can look forward to attending and the experiential feeling he hopes to give customers as soon as they set foot through their doors.
Co-Founders Glenn & Vito of POP-UP CREATIVE (interior architecture studio) + POP-UP BEIJING
LDS 1-on-1 with Glenn Schuitman
LDS: Can you tell us about your background – where you’re from and how you found your passion in collecting antiques and furniture?
GS: I’m from New Zealand. Despite being a such a small nation, we kiwis have a habit of popping up all over the place.
My parents were collectors of many things, from clocks and antiques to model steam engines and vintage pinball machines. For better or worse, I guess I inherited my passion for antiques from them. From childhood I would spend hours in antique and second-hand stores, digging up treasures, delighting in my discoveries, and often repairing or restoring objects myself.
LDS: How did you come to live in China?
GS: I’ve lived in Beijing for nine years now – actually, today is my Chinaversary! My story isn’t a new one – I came here on holiday, as a stop-over to moving to Holland, where I also have citizenship. After five weeks travel, I was so enthralled with China that I decided to stay a bit longer. A month became a year, and before I knew it, I’ve been living here for nine years. I have no idea where all that time has gone, but it’s been an adventure every day, and Beijing is now most definitely my home.
LDS: What is Pop-Up Beijing and tell us about the name?
GS: POP-UP BEIJING is the brain-child of myself and my amazing business parter, Vito Zhang. I am an interior designer, and Vito is an interior architect and structural engineer. When we met, we had both worked in huge companies, and were each ready to scale-back and adjust our life priorities. After one highly successful architectural design collaboration, we immediately formed a partnership in an interior architecture studio here in the same building as our showroom in Sanlitun. That was over two years ago, and I feel blessed every day to work with such a great guy.
At it’s heart, POP-UP BEIJING is a design, antique and lifestyle store. Of course, the name ‘POP-UP’ normally refers to something transient and short-lived – but we have every intention of being here for a long time! Our brand name is intentionally ambiguous, as we want our business to remain fluid, and to be able to have many different events and experiences ‘pop-up’ in our space, for our customers and supporters to immerse themselves in.
LDS: What type of pop-up events do you currently host and what upcoming events can we look forward to attending soon at Pop-Up?
GS: We have lots of exciting plans for the next few months, including the official opening of our own boutique micro-wine-bar, and some very interesting art collaborations. We’ve already held a couple of amazing wine-tastings, and – as a teaser, we will soon be announcing a very interesting programme related to North Korean propaganda art…
I highly recommend the Tarani Rose the next time you pop into Pop-Up
LDS: What inspired you and your partner to open Pop-Up?
GS: Beijing is a huge city, with so much to see and do. There are some great brands doing some very cool stuff in our business of antiques, furniture and homewares. As designers, we felt that there was still room in Beijing for something both more personalised and curated, and also experiential. We aim to create a space that offers something unique for each visit – a ‘feeling’ that is perhaps hard to define in words, but that is experienced once our customers walk through our door.
“In times of crises – personal or otherwise – a little retail therapy goes a long way. It is our pleasure at POP-UP BEIJING to be your retail counsellor and therapist. Pop-in and relax, pick up an espresso and peruse our wares, and enjoy the calm and peace of our showroom.”
LDS: Where does most of your furniture and pieces come from? How do you find/make it?
GS: Like any business in our field, we are hunters and gatherers from a wide range of places! Although this is the first store that either Vito or I have owned – we’ve been in the wider business for a few years now, and built some great connections and collaborations. We work with our own small factory in Beijing for restorations and reproductions, and also a small ceramics factory in Jingdezhen for our hand-made and hand-painted pieces – and we import our European vintage and antique pieces from Belgium. Our eyes are always open, and we make discoveries in some pretty random places!
“Red is the ultimate cure for sadness.” - Bill Blass
“In homes, as in fashion, red brings a comforting warmth, while also stimulating the appetites. We were looking around the showroom today, and realised there is hardly a corner without a ‘pop-of-red’ to awaken and alert the senses. Even much of our rustic timber pieces glow with the dull heat of red embers.” – Glenn
LDS: How much of your store is truly antique vs. a new reproduction made to look old?
GS: I would guesstimate that over 70% of our goods are vintage or antique, and the rest is new or reproduction. We are completely transparent about every piece in our showroom – if it’s new, we’ll tell you it’s new – if it’s old, we’ll tell you as much about the piece’s history as we know. There is a story behind every single piece here, and we try to share those stories with our customers.
LDS: What are your top 3 favorite items currently in your shop and why?
GS: That is such a hard question to answer, as we personally select and curate every object.
There is a vintage Italian chandelier from the 1950s that I adore – it reflects an age where a certain glamour was creeping back into post-war Europe, yet it is still classical and elegant in it’s simplicity. We just placed some deep emerald-green vintage Shandong chairs that we have re-lacquered, and spent a long time getting the colour right on, and which almost make me weep for joy, haha. And, although it’s not an ‘item’, I love our team – we are a small, focused and happy team, and without each other, our showroom and guest experience simply wouldn’t be possible.
LDS: What type of pieces have been selling most quickly at Pop-Up since you opened?
GS: We’ve only been open two months, so that is a shifting goal-post. Our vintage and antique Chinese pieces are definitely a hit, and our hand-crafted ceramics have done well. Our cushions, from local brands Iona Home and PoOtsh, have also done well, especially the fish cushions, which swim out the door as fast as we put them on display!
LDS: Where do you see Pop-Up Beijing in 2-3 years time?
GS: Vito and I have a huge vision for our baby, but – to be honest – we are very open to letting our child set their own course. First-and-foremost, we are passionate about the concept of ‘curated living’ – and that could take us in so many different directions. I’m perhaps just as curious as you, as to where we end up!
LDS: Top 3 dining/drinking destinations in Beijing?
GS: In nine years here, I’ve seen a massive growth in quality choices. Now there is so much GOOD choice in Beijing.
Capital M has long been my personal favourite for special occasions. The food, the service, and the location all satisfy my desires when I feel like something truly special, grounded at the physical heart of Beijing.
Because we spend so much of our time in our design studio or showroom, our awesome neighbours at 京A Taproom are our staple for a cold craft beer and some sweet potato fries – and Janes & Hooch for a dirty martini after we close our doors.
I also want to add Hani Gejiu for amazing Yunnanese food, Mosto, BBC for another cocktail experience, and the cafe scene has been blessed with MOKA Bros and TRIBE, and… aaaarrrrrrrggghhhh, I could go on-and-on, don’t make me choose!!!!
“True friendship is a plant of slow growth, and must undergo and withstand the shocks of adversity, before it is entitled to the appellation.” - George Washington.
“The gift of a plant is the gift of life. Plants bring the warmth of nature into a home, and are the perfect gift between friends and lovers. POP-UP BEIJING is pleased to bring a selection of small and characterful plants, for the enjoyment of you and your friends.” – Glenn
Pop-Up Beijing Contact Details:
Address: Just south of The Local in South Sanlitun - North Side, Ground Level, Building 22, No. 4 Gongti Bei Lu, Chaoyang, Beijing
Tel: + 86 10 6502 5725