POPP is Public Outdoor Ping Pong. We make free-to-use, permanent, weather-proof ping pong tables for parks and open spaces. By teaming up with artists who adorn our tables with brush strokes, spray paint sweeps and layers of creativity, POPP brings spaces to life with ping pong and art. Public recreational art, some (obviously including us) would say.
Each table is an exhibition in a public or open space, exposing not only art to new admirers but ping pong to new players. And there’s something strangely fulfilling about playing the world’s most popular racket sport on a table that moonlights as a piece of urban art.
For most of us, we know ping pong for collapsible, wooden composite tables, but for decades in Berlin (pingpongmap.net), Barcelona, Paris and across China, and now (more recently) in London (pinglondon.com), Copenhagen (the pioneering artists at Ping Out: pingout.net) and the New York (Spin for clubs: spinyc.com and Bryant Park for outdoor tables: bryantpark.org), ping pong is played outdoors on permanent tables.
When we POPP folk lived in Berlin in 2008, a whole summer was spent wandering the city’s nooks, squares and open spaces – ping pong gear in tow. We discovered countless free-to-use outdoor tables (often covered in graffiti) being enjoyed by the young ones, the hipsters, suits with spin moves, families and circles of friends playing circles of ping pong. We’ve brought this cross-generational recreational activity to Australia and we’ve taken the anonymity and illegality out of the artwork. By doing this we’ve given our tables a sense of direction and purpose – it just so happens that this has dramatically reduced incidences of graffiti vandalism.
With celebrities endorsing (and funding) ping pong nightclubs in New York and LA (thanks Susan Sarandon), popular culture fighting its social cause (hear hear, Entourage et al), pioneering governments and organisations taking steps to facilitate its positive inclusion in communities around the globe, and the London Olympics adopting it as its favourite son, it’s easy to see a bright, new future for ping pong in Australia.