New York winters are nasty, brutish and long. While there are pleasant ways to enjoy the city outdoors – Rockefeller’s tree and skating rink, for example – finding a creative indoor escape is tough. After New Year’s Eve in 2011, Openhouse created its most dynamic pop up to date with Park Here, a month-and-a-half-long indoor park. “The whole point was to go for a tranquil oasis away from the busy, cold, New York City winter,” Michael Murphy of Openhouse says.
Park Here was a nice alternative, not just from winter, but also from the endless string of shopping pop ups around Christmas. Instead of more sales, Openhouse created an indoor space that was free to the public during the day and full of private events at night. Starting in early 2011 and ending on Valentine’s Day, Openhouse dressed up 201 Mulberry with fake grass, trees, a reflecting pond, Seasonal Affective Disorder lamps, park benches, picnic tables, and a seesaw. The murals showed a forest scene, and the speakers twittered with the sound of springtime birds.
As New York Times journalist Ariel Kaminer wrote about the pop-up park, “It shouldn’t fool anyone. And yet it does: office workers looking for a break, couples looking for each other’s arms, the daily yoga class in the corner and, of course, the inevitable stroller brigade, all just relaxing and playing and letting down their guard in a way they would never do if the fake foliage was not there.”
Great pop up concepts attract diverse collaboration. When Openhouse’s team reached out before Park Here, partnerships came easily.
North Carolina-based Magic Murals provided the forest murals at a nominal cost. Openhouse purchased the fake grass at a wholesale rate from Legendary Turf out of New Jersey. The SAD lamps came from Northern Lights Technologies out of Canada. American Foliage & Design Group hooked up the trees, pond, big fake rock, picnic tables and benches for free. Openhouse reached out to Dutch lounge-chair company Fatboy to provide a suite of comfy chaise bags. Park Here included ten lounge bags from the Metalowski line whose earth tones had “the best visual impact,” says Whitney Shanks of Openhouse. Fatboy gifted the line and Openhouse paid for shipping.