EXHIBITION STANDS: When size matters

Big shows require a big presence from their exhibitors. Jane Stanbridge asks five stand agencies how they used their design expertise to help clients achieve their objectives at a series of major international events.


The South East England Development Agency, Trade Partners UK, and Farnborough Aerospace Consortium hired Extreme Exhibitions to create a stand for the Paris Air Show at Le Bourget in June that would showcase the South East of England and aerospace-related companies in the area. The companies were first-time exhibitors at the biennial show and the aim was to boost awareness prior to the 2004 Farnborough Air Show.

The agency first met the client in January and within four weeks the designs and plans had been approved.

Extreme sales and marketing manager Rod Hall says: "Our main challenge was trying to create a high-level exhibition presence on a government budget. We convinced the client to invest a bit more money in order to produce a stand that could be reused at other shows."

Pod-like mini stands were created within the main exhibit for nine other companies. A structure with corporate graphics was incorporated above the 140 sq m stand to reinforce its presence and a central 360 deg reception/bar area gave the stand a relaxed feel within a business environment. The agency spent three weeks constructing the stand, followed by a six-day build on site.

Extreme provided a full project management service, arranging travel and accommodation, client evenings and receptions. It also offered graphic design for all the associate partner companies.


"A good relationship was essential. Make sure channels of communication and the chain of authority are clearly understood and that any changes are documented." Rod Hall, sales and marketing manager, Extreme Exhibitions.


RTH Group has been involved in the design and installation of stands and chalets at the Paris Air Show since 1985, while client Rolls-Royce has been present at most of the 45 shows.

Work started on this year's 272 sq m stand in January, with the dual objectives of promoting the company's range of engines and demonstrating its after-sales service. A circular design displayed products including 13 full-scale aero engines around a central double-deck structure, placed under a high level lighting gantry and canopy.

Information was presented on a series of interactive displays and audiovisual installations, rather than traditional graphics. RTH design manager Dan Turner says: "We eliminated graphics as the main source of information because people don't read them - they are more interested in looking at the products and interactive displays."

The two-tier structure featured an informal hospitality area upstairs where people could meet and have coffee. Downstairs was dedicated to showcasing the client's Integrated Service Solutions (ISS), which include after-sales services such as engine refits and maintenance.

Turner says: "It was important for the client that we gave the ISS equal prominence on the stand to the products so visitors were exposed to the offers."

A site office manned by French-speaking staff with standby crews to cover all eventualities was on hand supported by 24-hour backup from the UK offices.


"We understood the objectives. Your exhibition space needs to be an extension of your company building, website, advertising, literature and point of sale." Dan Turner, design manager, RTH Group.


The move to allow space-only stands at this year's Fine Arts and Antiques Fair opened up the creative potential for Opex when the agency was asked to design an 80 sq m stand for Jorge Welsh Oriental Porcelain and Artwork. It was the second year the agency had worked for the client at the Olympia event.

Opex received an initial design for the stand from which it had to work. Toby Durrant, operations manager at Opex division Optimum says: "Our challenge was to take that initial design and turn it into something practical and economically viable. We had to make sure we kept the look and feel that the client wanted but make it structurally sound."

Open on all four sides, the main body of the structure comprised three stepped archways with triangular columns that spanned the full width of the stand, each connected by a bespoke material ceiling. Metal brackets designed and built by Opex stabilised the upright structures.

"The most important thing was for the stand to look clean and sharp," says Durrant. "With some shows it is the stand that is used to attract visitors, but with this client the products themselves were the attraction. So the stand had to be minimalist but very good quality."

Display cases were placed around the rest of the stand to house antiques and the stand was painted to match the exhibits. To get from the client's basic design to a working drawing took three weeks. The stand took four days to build. A further day was required to dress the structure and add final touches such as graphics and lighting adjustments.


"The client knew exactly what it wanted to achieve. Are you promoting a new product? Trying to increase product trial? Or selling direct to customers? These all demand very different things from the design." Fergus Mitchell, joint managing director of INM (part of the Opex Group)


The challenge for Clip Display Services was to design and supply a stand for Edinburgh Crystal (EC) that could be used at a variety of shows, of which the Spring Fair at the NEC is the largest.

"The client's decision to move to a modular system has enabled it to increase the number of shows it attends in a year without increasing the overall budget," comments Clip marketing executive Angelique Martin.

The stand needed to have enough display surfaces to highlight a large product range. "Extensive use of low-voltage lighting in ceiling sections built over the display areas ensured the crystal was displayed to its best advantage, with light reflecting on the crystal," says Martin.

A dark graphite fabric was chosen as the backdrop for the highly-lit product areas with contrasting red and yellow in one area to draw attention to a new product range. A key priority was to heavily brand the stand to differentiate it from competitors, so the agency used EC's corporate colours in the design.

The 72 sq m stand featured six-metre-high towers topped with the EC logo as a back-lit graphic to ensure all-round visibility. Clip provided a complete service including build-up, all site services and storage. The modular stand took a day to build and half a day to dismantle.


"We allowed for more shows without increasing the budget. If you intend to use a stand for more than one exhibition make sure it is adaptable." Angelique Martin, marketing executive, Clip Display Services


Scitex Digital Printing has attended print show IPEX for the past 12 years and Protean Design's brief for the 2002 event was to produce an 800 sq m stand that would accommodate large-scale printing equipment, focus on the corporate image and raise brand awareness.

To ensure complete understanding of the equipment on show and the technical requirements, Protean staff visited Scitex's US manufacturing plant.

Protean account director Colin Hibbs says: "The client wanted to convey more of a corporate image so we persuaded them to have less equipment on the stand. This enabled it to focus on specific products rather than too many, which would have watered down the message."

The stand had a core unit with a large, open reception desk. "This gave the impression of a confident exhibitor," says Gibbs. The stand also featured a hospitality area and four meeting rooms.

The structure was designed and built within three months and set up over five days at the NEC with a four-strong crew. On-site support at the seven-day event included technical trouble-shooting and installing equipment in record time.


"The stand was spacious with clear objectives. Don't be tempted to include non-relevant products or messages as this will only confuse staff and visitors." Andy Powell, marketing manager, Protean Design.

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