Maybe it's not surprising that when an architect goes to a farmers market he might notice the stands holding the food as much as the food itself.
For Jean Dufresne, an architect in Chicago, the turning point came at a local food festival. "A friend invited me to his stand and I couldn’t find it—they were all white and looked like tents," Dufresne says. "They were all ugly, and people had sandbags or buckets of water to hold them down, but it happened to be windy, so some popped up and blew over. I thought, there has to be a better way to do this."
Along with other members of an American Institute of Architects committee, Dufresne ended up making the design challenge the subject of a new competition: How could better pop-up booths make life easier for farmers and help them show off their products?
The winning design is a simple frame that folds down into a hand truck, so it can move food and the canopy at the same time. When it pops together, it can hold custom-printed fabric that will look different for each vendor.
A bicycle-powered produce stand, one of the designs to get an honorable mention, uses a canvas canopy to cover vegetables during transport. Once the bike arrives at the market, the bicycle unhooks from the rest of the cart, the canopy swings up, and the produce bins are tilted for display.
This set of boxes can be arranged and used in multiple ways—as weights for the canopy, tables, stools, and as a display for the produce. The canopy is made from an upcycled billboard.
This design uses cutting-edge materials to make the stand disappear as much as possible. Folded up, the design fits in a small bag. The metal frame expands into a curving structure that can withstand 90 mph winds. A thin, almost invisible polyester fabric stretches across the top and uses embedded LEDs to light the stand at night.
The farmers market challenge is part of an ongoing Pop-Up Project Design Competition that will focus on a different small project each year. "The idea is to pick something that’s fairly small and feasible on a small budget to build, so you can physically experience it and not see a prototype or some 3-D rendering on a website," Dufresne says.