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Hem London pop-up shop: Building the pink counter

Made exclusively for Hem’s London Pop-Up Store, the eye-catching pink counter stands in contrast to the shop’s raw, industrial space, blurring lines between hard and soft. Read the story behind the one-off piece created by design studio Soft Baroque for Hem’s Pop-Up Shop!

Photography: Soft Baroque

An editorial image from behind the scenes of building the Pink Counter for Hem's London pop-up shop, 2018.

Soft Baroque is a London-based design studio, founded by Nicholas Gardner and Saša Štucin in 2013, working simultaneously in art and design. “I come from the image making background, while Nicholas studied Furniture Design. The intersection of those two disciplines is often represented in our work” describes Saša. “Most importantly, we are both interested in similar subjects: our relationship with the natural world, digital production, surfaces, materials and our cultural perception of them.”

An editorial image from behind the scenes of building the Pink Counter for Hem's London pop-up shop, 2018.
An editorial image from behind the scenes of building the Pink Counter for Hem's London pop-up shop, 2018.

Their collaboration with Hem started after being approached by Laura Houseley from Modern Design Review. Asked to make a one-off piece for the brand’s Pop-Up Store in London, the duo was drawn by the experimental nature of the commission. “It was a bit of an unknown for both of us. We admire the Hem brand and found it very engaging to have such a surreal object next to the more visually refined Hem pieces,” says Nicholas.

An editorial image from behind the scenes of building the Pink Counter for Hem's London pop-up shop, 2018.
An editorial image from behind the scenes of building the Pink Counter for Hem's London pop-up shop, 2018.

The idea for their signature technique Puffy Bricks the pink counter is made of was born a few years back during a trip to Naples, Italy. While walking the streets, Saša and Nicholas noticed an old arch holding up a stone seawall; washed by the waves, the material around each stone had softened up, becoming round, almost cartoon-like. “It was a rational object that became decorative, almost comical. It got stuck in our heads as the representation of an unintentional piece of progressive architecture,” describes Nicholas.

An editorial image from behind the scenes of building the Pink Counter for Hem's London pop-up shop, 2018.
An editorial image from behind the scenes of building the Pink Counter for Hem's London pop-up shop, 2018.

To make the bricks for the counter, balloons are filled with jesmonite with the help of a large syringe pump, then, placed into the gaps from the top of a temporary formwork. After curing, the balloons are taken apart from the mould, numbered and glued back together. Lastly, painted in hot pink. The outcome conveys the essence of Soft Baroque’s work: a bubblegum look juxtaposed with the sturdy silhouette, challenging the senses and offering a unique experience to the Hem’s Pop-Up Shop’s visitors.

Nicholas Gardner and Saša Štucin, Soft Baroque

Nicholas Gardner and Saša Štucin, Soft Baroque