Many companies whose products are cool in that stylish, converted-industrial sort of way are using the visual language of the chic, urban loft-space to create custom trade show exhibit designs that express the look and feel of their brand.
All you need to do is look to high-end retail for ideas—then convert materials to faux and look-alikes that are lighter weight and faster to install.
Seven characteristics of loft-style trade show exhibit designs—and how to create them:
1. Oversized openings. If you need an entrance, think big: barn doors, garage doors that roll upwards, even a bank vault door. This will pre-dispose attendees to anticipate a big, open space.
2. High, rustic walls. Metal, brick, reclaimed wood or cinderblock communicate vintage industrial best. You can faux-age them if necessary. And if show regulations allow—try to go up to 12’ to maximize the warehouse ambiance.
3. Hard flooring. No carpet here—except maybe a few area rugs. Wood or exposed concrete are the finishes you want. And if the real thing isn’t feasible because of cost, there are rolled vinyls that are printed to look like the real thing. And of course in convention centers with concrete floors, you can just go with the floor that’s already there.
4. Industrial-style minimalist furniture and props. Look to trestle tables and bookcases to display product, and metal stools and overstuffed couches for seating.
5. Suspended light fixtures. Bring the feeling home with suspended industrial light fixtures—either fixtures with metal hoods, or with exposed filament bulbs—or both. Running your wiring through pipe is an authentic detail as well.
6. Oversized windows. Loft spaces have very large windows—often nearly floor to ceiling in height. Achieve this look with your own large windows. These can be simple cutouts with no sills, and either very basic mullions (left open or filled in with plexi) or glass block (if don’t want people to be able to see in or out).
7. Wide-open spaces. The most important detail is to leave the space fairly-open—with as much open area between displays and furnishings as possible. Overcrowding is the fastest way to downgrade from loft-chic to fire-sale cluttered.
What props and fixtures have you seen people use on the show floor to create the look and feel of a reclaimed warehouse?