Retail Trend: The Mobile Lab

By Erin M. Loewe

Photos courtesy of Avoid Obvious Architects

How would you like to “Treat Yo’ Self” today, with chocolate or beer? How about both? Hong Kong-based The Artist specializes in craft beer and gourmet chocolates sourced with Belgian ingredients. Founded by cousins Benjamin Cox and Olivier Gilson, who share a love of both Belgium and Hong Kong, the company offers a perfect marriage of two famous indulgences.

When starting The Artist, Cox and Gilson reached out to Avoid Obvious Architects, which has offices in Hong Kong and New York, to create innovative mobile shops that were both easy to build and environmentally sustainable. Both The Artist’s beer and chocolate can be customized with patron names and/or photos imprinted directly on the chocolates or on beverage labels.

The Artist Lab is the latest mobile shop creation resulting in the company’s partnership with Avoid Obvious Architects. Located in The Peak Galleria in Hong Kong (where it remained until Feb. 23, 2017), The Artist Lab focuses on the experience around tasting, learning and customizing craft beer. This mobile shop incorporates flexible gadgets and functions, and can work on its own or in a group for different venues.

Vicky Chan, principal of Avoid Obvious Architects, says besides The Artist Lab, his firm also has helped create tricycle and pop-up shop concepts that can fit in multiple layouts. So far, the three layouts have been showcased in numerous malls, tradeshows and hotels in Hong Kong.

Chan says as the company expands into more markets, the aspects of mobility—and affordability—become more important. “At the beginning, we designed the shop that can be assembled in five hours; we thought it was quite successful,” he says. “However, most shopping malls require us to do construction at night. The five hours of labor at night is usually three times its daytime rate. The cost adds up. The client eventually asked us to design The Artist Lab, which can be setup and moved by one person. It saves them money and reduces mistakes contractors may make late at night.”

In addition to popping up in retail locations around Hong Kong, The Artist also does charitable and private events. Cheers to that!


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