Innovative Stands: Turn heads with a new look

Lorraine Francisco casts an eye over the latest trends in stand design and discovers that the popular choices this year include modular displays, environmentally-friendly fabrics, interactive lightboxes and visual surprises.

Trying to capture a bag-laden visitor's attention at a busy trade show is no small feat, as any business would tell you. Add to that the pressure of keeping to budget, and it seems businesses are choosing modular stands over custom build to keep costs down.

Adam King, design director at supplier Skyline Whitespace, says: "One of the biggest trends this year is the move away from custom build to modular because of environmental responsibility. All of Skyline's products have a lifetime guarantee. If a client wants to add anything, it can change fabrics or add in custom-built features like lampshades."

He adds: "I am trying to change people's perceptions of what a modular stand would look like, as many believe custom-built stands look better. However, the modular stands provided by Skyline are custom-built. They don't fall apart or go rusty and a customer is making an investment into the system."

Service Graphics created the concept and design for structures and signage at the Reuters Formula One Outdoor Event in Canary Wharf last summer.

Jerry Markham, its commercial manager for the Bristol region, agrees with King: "Generally people are leaning towards the modular systems where it can be re-used at different exhibitions, even if it is reshaped or new graphic panels are added."

Fabric is also popular this year. Julian Rowlandson, sales director of Expand International, which manufactures and markets portable media displays, says: "The UK is behind Europe and the States in the fabric area but Expand is seeing an increase in demand from customers." Rob Kelly, marketing director at Service Graphics, says fabric is being used more because it is more affordable. Skyline's fabrics can also be washed at 40deg C and, as the graphics are rolled into a tube before transportation, they cannot be damaged.

Skyline's King adds that the use of fabric - rather than polycarbonate plastic - promotes sustainability, since it is biodegradable. He also points out that using two layers of sheer fabric with graphics on each sheet, combined with creative lighting techniques, can create 3-D optical effects.

"Customers are also going for the 'obscured' look," he says. "The idea that you keep certain parts of your stand secret by using sheer fabrics creates a 'discovery' experience for the visitor. By using dynamic layering, you can create a visual surprise."

Expand International also launched its Curved Media Fabric, which weighs less than 10kg including the graphic and includes its own transport case.

It is available in 6 sqm and 12 sqm.

Catherine McCullagh, director of exhibition stand designer Sovereign Exhibitions, has noticed the growing trend of using video walls and creating stage sets on stands. She says: "Sovereign has been asked to provide edge-lit flooring, bars and shelving. It is created by having a platform raised with cables running underneath and placing coloured acrylic across the bottom, called the 'kick-plate', with a light behind it. This causes the edges to shine. It also works with shelving, where you can create the illusion of shelves glowing."

Brushed aluminium

She adds that customers are going for the contemporary, industrial look with brushed aluminium and modern bar stools. Before this, the clinical, white look was very popular.

Mark Bric supplies a wide range of display and exhibition products. Its UK sales manager, George Bettridge, believes customers prefer to use banner systems rather then 'pop-up' products. He says: "Mark Bric's Banner Up system is cheaper then the Snap Up 'pop-up' stands. The Banner Up systems can use two different banners within one cassette, and is easy to transport. A customer can get as much coverage as the 'pop-up' stands by using two of the Banner Up systems."

Another popular trend is the use of interactive illuminated lightboxes.

Andy Edmunds, sales manager at Powergraphic Displays, mentions a request for a giant piano - similar to the one featured in the Tom Hanks film Big - using its interactive, light, movement and sound products. He says: "We created a pressure-sensitive piano that was recessed into a raised floor. We designed it so that when the visitor stood on the key, it lit up and played the corresponding sound, enabling a tune to be played out by visitors to the stand." A guaranteed crowd-pleaser at any type of show.

If keeping to budget is your top priority, the best way to cut costs is by renting stand systems, a trend noted by Alan Jenkins, managing director of supplier Exhibit UK. He says: "Clients enjoy the cash-flow benefit due to lower costs and flexibility on stand design for each event, and they are not locked into a supplier or particular system." Reacting to the trend, Exhibit UK offers 'free-rental' of its Showorks system's aluminium hardware, meaning the customer pays only for stand installation, graphics and any other additional features or services.


- Virtual Stand Tour

Supplier Stanco's 360-degree virtual stand tour is a useful product for exhibitors to send to potential clients who missed a show, as well as a good follow-up marketing tool. Aspects of the stand can be highlighted with drop-down text boxes, and the tour can be added to the company's website.

- Prestige Plasma

Exhibit UK's Prestige Plasma integrates a 42-inch plasma screen into a Prestige pop-up system. Its support structure is hidden behind seamless graphics.

The only visible elements are two aluminium supports and a beech worktop.

There is also space for add-ons such as lockable computer storage, showcases, towers and computer desk units.

- Expand Media Screen 2 (Outdoor)

Expand has created an outdoor, portable, retractable display stand that can bend in winds of up to 22mph.

The Expand Media Screen 2 can be used on surfaces such as asphalt, sand, grass and snow. It features extended stabilization feet and the spring-loaded pole is designed to flex in the wind while the base remains stable.

In a 22mph wind, the graphic will flex to approximately 60 degrees.

Expand International sales director Julian Rowlandson says: "The is the first retractable stand created specifically for outdoor use."

- Powergraphic's interactive, light, movement and sound products

Powergraphic Displays' Light and Sound Lightboxes attract visitors' attention by talking to them as they walk past. Proximity sensors trigger messages or audio responses relating to a company's display.

Its lighting products include Rotagraphics displays that silently rotate, displaying a message on each of its three sides. Its Rollavision product stores a number of graphics that can either scroll continuously or be set to different time-delay periods.

The company has also created a large lightwall with a number of different sections that can flash in sequence, or light up as a visitor touches individual parts.

- Attend TV

You can now broadcast footage from your stand instantly to prospective clients.

Attend TV provides film crews and presenters to exhibitions, shows and conferences. Footage is then uploaded to a dedicated channel online and the results can be added to your company's website.

Presenters ensure that the footage includes a general overview of the company and demonstrations of products and services. They also mention key contacts.

- Skyline Tube Ultra

Skyline Whitespace provides a lightweight structure that can support product and presentation equipment, suitable for in-lines, islands and kiosks.

Skyline Tube Ultra is flexible as its round and square components are modular and feature slots running the length of the tube. It is easy to install as graphics are attached within the slot of the banner system.

The product can include ceiling treatments and versatile components to create features such as workstations, shelving and product display kiosks.

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