Creativity thrives through collaboration. We cherish the significance of working together. It elevates our creative prowess and nurtures our capacity for thoughtful contributions, emphasising the synergy that enhances both our work and influence in exhibition halls around the world.
Adam King, Design Director and Gareth Plumb, Design & Technical Support, are no strangers to collaboration. As dynamic thinkers with a significant presence in our design department having worked with some of the world’s biggest brands over the last 20 years, they see the world through an innovative lens.
We caught up with Adam and Gareth to share with you an insight into the evolution of exhibition stand design and sustainable thinking.
Q. How has technology impacted stand design?
Adam: The evolution of technology has had a major influence on our designs and allows us to be so much more creative! We all know the importance of having engaging content at your exhibition stand and technological advancements have made it easier for all companies to do so.
Digital content is something which has always been a part of stands. However, it hasn’t always been easy. When we first started in 2002, the digital screen being used were big, heavy, bulky and expensive. The evolution of digital screen use has bought with it significant benefits: improved quality, TVs are paper thin, and much more accessible in cost.
The screen content we previously used on client stands in the early 2000’s were simply company videos or filled with of text to give information – the content wasn’t relatable or relevant to the show. Now they are filled with powerful content. It isn’t a death PowerPoint. More engaging content and high production quality is available at the touch of a button!
As technology develops, we are always looking to be at the forefront of digital trends and understand the future of immersive engagement. Virtual experiences are something unique that we provide for our clients such as virtual reality, augmented reality, or gesture control which allows audiences to interact with brands in a new and exciting way. We can leverage data, technology, and storytelling to drive meaningful results.
LED walls, LED glass and transparent walls, are also something we look at integrating into stands. Targeted show content can be responsive and instantly updatable to allow flexibility to produce personalised messages at different shows. They look great and are also reusable which ties into our sustainability goals. Less graphics and more screen content. Reduction in physical print and less waste production.
Q. What improvements have been made to the design process?
Gareth: In the beginning, we had two separate 3D applications. The design was produced used Strata 3D CX and the CAD detailing process was done with IronCAD.
The reason for this was that our US partner – Skyline Exhibits – had their products and parts modelled in the same software and we used their system to be compatible. The main problem with the two-application set-up was that everything that was designed then had to be repeated to produce final show ready, detailed CADs.
Four years ago, the design department, while at a design conference in Barcelona, decided to work to bring design and CAD detailing together into one solution. The aim was to simplify the working process and, at the same time, update to a more robust, industry standard system.
We tested a number of alternatives, but I had read somewhere that Vectorworks had been acquired by Maxon – the people who own Cinema 4D. It was an application that I have used before and I loved it! Although it can produce beautiful rendering, I discounted Cinema 4D as an option because it couldn’t handle the level of part information and graphics calculations we needed.
What I found was that Vectorworks since had the Cinema 4D rendering engine added which takes a CAD detailing application and adds design and visualisation to make an all-round solution. We did some testing to see if Vectorworks fit what we do and found that although it is mainly an architectural application, exhibitions have a lot in common with building, buildings.
With the assistance of a third-party architect to develop processes and database elements we remodelled all of the modular systems we use. We created a semi-automated design processes to replace our original two application system and as we moved forward, we integrated large parts of pricing and graphics calculations with our CRM system to improve accuracy and reduce errors.
We now have a one-stop solution for all our design and CAD requirements, producing beautiful visuals but at the same time creating datasets for pricing, print production, workshop CAD detailing and exhibition build instructions.
Q. How have the requirements of clients progressed?
Adam: Building long lasting relationships with clients has been vital for us, as it is with any company. The secret to developing client relationships is our consistency in delivering to a high standard and a fresh approach to creativity.
Just Eat – We produced JustEat’s first ever exhibition stand and ever since we have built a great relationship over the years watching each other grow as companies. We both had to adapt to each other’s needs to maintain our strong relationship. For example, educating JustEat on the importance of being more sustainable and making their stands reusable which also reduces their costs and reflects their sustainable initiatives. JustEat have also grown incredibly over the years, and we have been lucky enough to witness their growth nationally and internationally.
Bayer – Bayer are our oldest and largest client and seen them grow as one of the largest pharmaceutical companies in the world. We have been with Bayer for many years, even through their merger with Monsanto in 2018. Working across multiple sectors within their business and utilising inventory of stock has helped reduce overheads and maintained consistency for all the shows they exhibit at, all over the world. Bayer was one of our first clients to understand and align with our sustainability goals and the first to adopt our rental Aluvision system which they have continued to use ever since.
Hilton Hotels – Hilton have been our client from 2006 and we have worked with them every year since, mainly on projects in Singapore and Cannes. Hilton was one of the first companies we worked with globally, they were early adopters of custom modular stand solution and share our vision of modular stands being creative, cost effective and sustainable. Whenever I look back at old pictures of some of their first ever stands, it is truly incredible to see the development of the Hilton Group portfolio to combine the Waldorf, Conrad and LXR brands into one stand! The stand size is dramatically different too, going from a simple 24m² space to upwards of 100m² last year!
Q. How has sustainable design developed?
Adam: Sustainability wasn’t really such a big thing in our industry when we first started out, but we have always put reusability at the forefront. It has been part of our business model since the very beginning. Only more recently has our industry begun to act on the amount of waste produced by events. We have always avoided – and even turned away business – requests for traditional ‘build and burn’ stands, as almost all materials and equipment end up in landfill rather than reusing for future shows. We stick by our ethics in that sense.
We have pushed sustainable solutions before the focus on it from our industry. It is our job to educate exhibitors on the benefits of sustainable practice and drive development within our industry alongside our clients and suppliers.
Sustainable practice has and continues to be one of our major USP’s. Our industry needs to align to make a better future for everyone and we have always been open to knowledge sharing with other suppliers so that we can learn and progress.
We design with reusability in mind, something which is now much more common as it is beneficial for both us and our clients who are now, more than ever, looking to reuse parts of their stands. It is also cost-effective for exhibitors to reuse stand elements and graphics than it is to purchase a new stand for every show. Our growth in this area means that we hold one of the largest inventories of exhibition system rental and storage capacity in Europe.
Companies also turn to supply chain management, which is at the forefront of reshaping industries. By incorporating environmental considerations into every stage of our production and distribution, we can decrease waste, energy consumption and greenhouse emissions. 0% of our waste is sent to landfill, our production facility runs entirely on renewable energy and we are measuring our carbon emission output.In an ever-evolving landscape, companies are undergoing a profound transformation in the way they approach supply chain management. It’s not just a buzzword, it’s a revolution that we aim to play an integral part in.
Q. Are there any recent trends you have noticed?
Adam: Event organisers have reduced tenancy time and have now adopted more short-term build times for exhibition builders to set up stands. Speed and efficiency of build is now key to what we do and the process we implement. Our modular system is perfectly aligned to these short time frame installations.
Companies are not just looking a stand that looks good it is much more than that now, return on investment and a reduction in waste and increase in reusability and results is critical to our client base. We are proud to be making a positive difference in the evolution of the exhibition events sector.