Welcome to Premium City

by Maximilian Volkenborn and Tasso Pavlidis
March 2, 2021
Experimental research project in collaboration with the Design Department of the Peter Behrens School of Arts, University of Applied Sciences Düsseldorf, Germany. Premium City is an exhibition space that shows how we define the term "premium" in the year 2050 and how it influences our society. The space includes a series of exhibits, concepts and studies. Exhibited exactly a year ago at EuroShop 2020 Düsseldorf, the world’s largest retail trade show, we welcomed the international audience to Premium City, with a total area of roughly 750 m².
Key message
Premium City is a theoretical future setting in which there are only premium products and premium services to be consumed. The usual segmentation between luxury, premium, mainstream and discount has long since disappeared, but the criteria for evaluating whether a service is classified as premium or not have also changed. Premium no longer means temporary participation in the idea of exclusivity but rather an ultimate claim to quality in an overall social perspective.
The space includes 12 curated student exhibits, a stage for international guest lectures, lots of interactive participatory spaces, and hospitality services. Two partner universities from the international retail network - Oslo and Barcelona - were part of the city and featured their own showpieces, keynotes and publications. With two design award nominations and a total of 94,000 EuroShop visitors from all over the world, Premium City was one of the visitor highlights of the fair during the five days.
Premium City is an exhibition space for performance, architecture, literature, lectures and studies, and was presented to an international trade fair audience for five days at EuroShop 2020. In the framework of the city’s urban architecture, students addressed current challenges such as sustainability, consumerism, anthropogenic global warming, urban connectivity and digital surveillance, and presented solutions with a view to the future in the year 2050.


The exhibition poses the question of how "premium" and varying qualities will be defined in the future. This is in direct contrast to the current concept of premium, which increasingly fluctuates in meaning between true first-class and mediocre. The concepts, exhibits and installations within the City of Architecture were developed by students of retail, exhibition and communication design at the Düsseldorf University of Applied Sciences and invite dialog with trade visitors and representatives of the retail sector.


Premium City is a city, stage and exhibition all at the same time. At the heart of the city is a transformable democratic forum that functions as a discussion, game and performance space. During lectures, the forum transforms into a stage with mobile seating that can be stowed away in the voids of the architecture when not in use. A High Street Typographic Runway runs across the city, from which all exhibits can be viewed and all buildings accessed. Seven architectural structures offered creative space for exhibits, not only inside the three accessible buildings, but also in all the cubes of the scaffolding bodies or on the three table modules that serve as a marketplace for ideas from current research.

Considering that premium functions through storytelling and communicates mostly through intangible values, it can be concluded that our architecture must convey particularly expressive messages and stories in its communication. Premium City is a city that dissolves into stories and statements. Therefore, in the process of form formation, there is a gradual reduction of structural elements, until the total dissolution of space into fundamentals: line, point and text. In order to return these fundamental elements back into static space, the use of a scaffolding system is suitable.

The individual resulting square divisions each had one cubic metre of space for design experiments. The largest architectural body had a height of about 6 metres. The architectural elements were created on the basis of a main body shape, from which separations were made in each of the elements. These were divided according to dress sizes S, M, L and XL. Each of these modules could therefore serve different purposes and create new experimental spaces.


Sophie Matysek

EuroShop 2020 Final Summary

Creative Direction & Execution
Maximilian Volkenborn, Tasso Pavlidis

Corporate Design
Simon Hopf, Marcel Tillmanns

Prof. Bernhard Franken, Prof. Dr. Rainer Zimmermann, Prof. Philipp Teufel

Academic Partners
ELISAVA | Barcelona School of Design and Engineering, Kristiania University College Oslo | Westerdals Department of Communication and Design

Ansorg GmbH, BIK TEC GmbH, Bildungszentrum Hansemann, DurstPhototechnik AG, EBS Ink Jet Systeme GmbH, Fotoboden.de | visuals united AG, GerüstbauBühnenbau M. Engelmohr GmbH, Handwerkskammer Dortmund, Messe Düsseldorf GmbH, Neno GbR, PONGS Textil GmbH, RBL Media GmbH, real GmbH, WERFT 6 GbR, Wilhelm Layher GmbH & Co KG

Christian Banasik, Christian Jendreiko, Dennis Golly, Eib Eibelshäuser, Florian Boddin, Franziska Stasch, Gaby Danninger, HSD Dez. Finanzen, HSD Dez.Pers. &Recht, Jörg Brandt, Michael Mura, Niklas Reiners, Peter Nowak, Peter Toma, PhilipBehrend, Uwe Küster, Michael Swottke

Project Management
Nadine Nebel

Bottom-up. Top-down. Repeat.:
Nadine Nebel

Escape Room:
Dariusz Stawinoga, Hannah Perpeet, Jannis Buddendick, Pauline Schmeling

Flower Shop:
Alicia Glawdel

Park & Play:
Hans Höhenrieder

Post Soil Generation:
Malte van der Meyden

Premium Bus:
Chiara Nervo, Natalie Grote-Beverborg

Premium Busstop:
Ina Charlotte Germer, Laura Kossing, Laura Schuppe, Paula Carlotta Fuß

Premium Data:
Anne Sine Sauermann, Marcus Kautz, Maximilian Volkenborn, Till Fehn

Real Living:
Carola Fleischhauer, Daria Karuga, Eske León, Isabel Voßloh, KatjaPacheco Sanchez, Lukas Köhnen, Thomas Buraczynski

Recomposing Retail:
Malte van der Meyden

Nadine Nebel

Staycation Club:
Carolin Lunge, Yvonne Schreiter

Three Premium Cities:
Anne Ossenbühl, Enya Rosing, Hannah Schulz, Isabell Derenthal, MeltemKalayci

See related text project