Looking like a cross between a futuristic space ship and a giant tarantula, the Tectonics exhibit at ExhibitorLive 2017 was certainly different. Unlike most other displays at the show, this exhibit was open to visitors on all sides—it had no walls. And, because it’s an all-tensioned fabric exhibit, it was lightweight, easy to set up, and featured illuminated graphics. Its confident and imposing presence captivated people’s attention and drew them into the space. This exhibit is much more than a platform for Tectonics’ marketing message; it’s a demonstration of the unique capabilities Tectonics brings to Snap Tube and SEG - Extrusion tensioned fabric systems, and what this indicates about the future of exhibit design.
There was a lot riding on this booth and its reception at the leading annual industry trade show. The previous year, Tectonics’ first as an exhibitor at ExhibitorLive, the exhibit space was a 10’ x 10’ inline, and was located along one of the back walls of the convention area. The booth for 2017 would be a big step forward, expanding to a 30’ x 20’ space, located near the center of the convention floor. The booth would be a great opportunity to fully demonstrate Tectonics’ design, engineering and fabrication capabilities to current and prospective customers.
Design Challenge: Rethink The Trade Show Exhibit
Trade shows have been around for a long time. Not too long ago most exhibits were made almost exclusively of wood, steel, and other heavy materials. Essentially displays were made with the same materials as permanent structures. Today, light-weight exhibits are preferred for their cost and ease-of-assembly advantages, and materials such as thin-wall aluminum tubing and fabric skins have become the norm.
Today’s trade show exhibit needs to serve its display functions, while also being quick to assemble, lightweight, and transportable, to save on the recurring costs for shipping and storage.
Exhibitors compete for the attention of people at the show, and strive to impart a particular impression on the visitors who engage with them. Smart companies understand that everything about their booth says something to the visitor, from their logo and displayed items to the form, materials, surfaces, and construction of the exhibit itself.
The 30’ x 20’ display consists of eight display components: a tall free-standing central display structure, three counters, and four display kiosks.
The central display element soars above the booth space on four tapered legs that rise and curve to meet overhead. The display is constructed entirely using Tectonics’ Snap-tube™ tensioned fabric system—thin-walled anodized aluminum tubing, with dye-sublimation printed fabric covers that zipper closed, pulling smooth and taut. The legs connect to a white tapered ring in the center, and support curved headers, and red curved canopies with recessed light fixtures. Rising 18’-6” above the convention center floor this free-standing display structure provides excellent visibility from all directions. The final version of the display featured bright white LED lighting in the canopies. Although not incorporated in the final version of the display, the legs, center ring, and headers were also designed to support optional internal illumination, with RGB or white LED light fixtures.
The two reception counters were made using Tectonics’ lightweight Snap-tube display system. Standing 48” wide and 42” tall, these tensioned fabric counters are designed to support up to 200 lbs. each. They have a 1/2” thick acrylic tops, and dye-sub printed fabric covers with internal LED illumination.
The center counter/cabinet was 48’ wide by 48” deep by 36” tall and made of wood, finished with white laminate material. It included four locking doors for storing sales materials, or purses and other personal items during the show. This cabinet also featured a cutaway 3D logo under a glass top.
The four kiosks were made using Tectonics’ aluminum extrusion profiles, and were covered with SEG fabric skins. Each kiosk included large areas for custom graphics, had a raised platform for product presentation, an aluminum plate for mounting a large flatscreen TV, and a dimensional rectangular canopy with recessed LED light fixtures.
The kiosks were arranged at the four corners of the booth space. Each kiosk presented one of the four categories of Tectonics’ production capabilities: Printing, SEG & Extrusions, Round-tube Systems, and Custom Fabrication.
These eight elements can be arranged in many different configurations to support various exhibit requirements and booth sizes. And amazingly, three installers were able to completely assemble and install this custom island exhibit in less than 8 hours.
Illuminating The Future
A well-designed booth, made with quality materials, shows visitors how much the exhibiting company values quality and attention to detail. Booth designers have come to realize that a good exhibit design is critical to assuring that exhibitors achieve their marketing objectives. Looking forward, we can expect the trends for lighter-weight materials and more effective exhibit designs to continue. But what will the exhibit of the future look like? What is the next big thing in exhibit design?
The Tectonics booth at ExhibitorLive suggests that one area of untapped potential for improvement is “openness”. Next time you are at a trade show, ask yourself: Does the exhibit feel open and inviting? Are walls preventing me from approaching booth staff? Do I want to enter the booth space to learn more about their offerings?
An effective exhibit design will get noticed and draw people in. It will prime visitors’ minds for engagement, and get them wanting to know more about the exhibiting company. The Tectonics booth at ExhibitorLive 2017, with its modern all-tensioned fabric construction and openness on all sides, showed what one successful solution to this perennial problem might look like.