Graphics: Looking out for innovations

Specialists in the exhibition graphics world talk to Adam Woods about new products and the key issues that affect the industry.

- Steve Hill, marketing director, Amber & Green

Within events we are receiving requests that involve greater use of materials.

Obviously, the price of graphics has come down over the last three or four years particularly, so it is much more of a disposable item. With the fabrics and the materials, you can create something which is just a little bit different and more eye-catching, and I believe this is the way the market is heading, from our side.

There are some big technological advancements which over the next few years are going to create large opportunities for graphics sellers and help anyone looking to create very low-cost, unusual effects which haven't previously been achievable.

We had a requirement to reinstall a stand for a client of ours that had metal rings floating above it, with work stations underneath. They didn't want to change it, they just wanted to enhance it, so we were looking for a way to light these rings. What we found was a lighting product, Flatlite, which is as thin as a piece of paper and now we have the exclusive UK licence.

It is based on electroluminescent technology, which has been around for some time - your phone will have an electroluminescent screen to backlight it - but it has become more viable, more of an off-the-peg product, which we can put behind acrylic to give very, very thin light boxes.

Architects, designers, lighting companies, sign companies are all interested, because you can use it indoors, outdoors, wherever. Obviously exhibitions are going to be a big market, though they are not going to necessarily drive the quantities that will bring the price down, and that will take two or three years.

- Daniel Bridge, display sales manager, Octanorm

We were at the Screen UK/Digital Expo show (at the NEC in April) and we did it on a small scale. We didn't go there investing too much, because we had not been before, but what we learned was there are a lot of the right kind of people there, and it was very well-attended.

We launched a new range of display products at the show, which went down very well, and considering we only had a 12sqm stand, it was very successful for us. We have had a couple of orders from people who came on to the stand, but we generally don't expect to see results from an exhibition for three to six months.

We have a new product called Organics which is a graphic display system using two new aluminium profiles which are organically shaped. Rather than being round or square, as you see on most displays, it is a curved, natural kind of frame, so it allows you to get a lot more innovative in the design that holds the graphics. We though it would go down well because it is brand new. We are the only people currently doing such a product and it is very different. We expected it to be well received, and it was.

- Rob Kelly, marketing director, Service Graphics

The trends we see are towards increasingly diverse use of graphics production and technology. The event marketplace is quite buoyant at the moment, particularly on the roadshow side, and there seems to be more budget going into that whole area. In fact, we have it in our business plan to expand that area because we feel some of the marketers are switching some of their money from TV advertising, which isn't getting the kind of results it used to - and going for some more face-to-face stuff, which is great news for our marketplace. We have noted this from an increase in business and in the size of the projects.

We acquired a business recently in the events sector, PR Exhibitions, and they brought to our party something that we don't offer, which is asset management. I am not talking about just physically racking it on the shelves, which of course we do in our other exhibitions divisions - they have created bespoke software for the management of assets which can be written into the client's intranet system to allow them to browse and order assets as they need them. They can for example, run off a banner stand and send it to Glasgow tomorrow, or even reconfigure a large modular-build stand from assets that have already been used before.

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