Tips and Trends

Recap: The Top 20 Trade Show Exhibit Design Trends of 2017

Wednesday, December 06, 2017

The best way to describe trade show exhibit design in 2017 is diverse. The 3D Exhibits team attended hundreds of shows across pretty much every industry—and no matter where we were, we found new and creative exhibiting solutions.

Here’s a recap of our top 20 trade show exhibit design trends of 2017.

Trend #20: Hanging and Pendant Light Fixtures

From adding ambiance to spotlighting products, trade show exhibitors became increasingly creative in their use of hanging and pendant light fixtures in their exhibits.

Trend #19: Supersized Product Models

Nothing makes it clearer what your flagship product is than putting a larger-than-life model of the product in your booth. This technique works especially well if you’re trying to make a very small product stand out.

Trend #18: Unusual Angles

A literally out-of-the-box approach to exhibit components is to cast right angles and parallel edges aside for a more divergent selection of angles.

Trend #17: Suspended Elements

When exhibitors put the airspace above their exhibits to good use, the result is eye-catching and traffic-stopping.

Trend #16: Central Sculpture

Locating a large, sculptural element at the center of your exhibit is a guaranteed way to entice visitors to leave the aisle and enter your exhibit.

Trend #15: Translucent Walls

A growing number of exhibitors looked to sheer walls to define their exhibit or conference room—while still allowing attendees to peek inside from the aisle, or look outside from within.

Trend #14: Custom Wallpaper

Thanks to digital printing, exhibitors are creating their own custom wallpapers. We’ve seen everything from softly screened logo marks to photos of the company’s customer care team.

Trend #13: Industrial Loft Style

Borrowing elements from the visual language of the industrial loft space results in an exhibit with a chic, urban vibe.

Trend #12: Gateways

Formal entrance structures make a strong statement and speak to an exhibitor’s stature in their industry.

Trend #11: LED Surfaces

2017 will be remembered as the year when brands really started to use digital content as an architectural feature. Thanks to products like Christie Tiles, LED displays can integrate into virtually any surface in your exhibit in the size, shape and configuration of your choice.

Trend #10: Imaginative Product Demos

The best in-exhibit demos are visually intriguing enough to double as booth attracts and dynamic enough to prove your claims about your product. Best practices include the integration of motion, hands-on participation, gamification and a touch of surprise.

Trend #9: Create Art From Your Product

High-end paper, cabinet knobs, seatbelts, window frames, and Nespresso capsules are just a few of the products we saw artfully arranged and presented in 2017 (featured above, Neenah showcased its premium papers by transforming them into artful paper flowers).

Trend #8: Texture

Textured surfaces ruled the trade show floor in 2017. Exhibitors used everything from sculpted wall panels and piles of pebbles to raw wood and brick to make their exhibits more representative of their unique brands.


Trend #7: Please Touch

Exhibitors used increasingly creative means (including gamification) to engage attendees hands-on with their products.

Trend #6: Recessed Product Display


Exhibitors with small products turned to recessed displays to make their products stand out.

Trend #5: Multiple Floor Treatments

From changes of color to complete changes of material—many companies used flooring changes to define spaces within their exhibits, highlight key products and areas, and improve wayfinding.

Trend #4: Baffled Ceilings

Exhibitors employed baffled ceilings to create a more defined and intimate environment—without the cost and bulk of creating an actual ceiling.

Trend #3: Halo Lit Signage

Halo-lit signage was employed to attract attention in markets from medical to housewares.

Trend #2: 2D to 3D

A large-format 2D graphic supported by 3D props was the go-to solution when the environment an exhibitor wanted couldn’t be created cost-effectively within an exhibit.

Trend #1: Tablescaping

The biggest exhibit design trend our 3D Exhibits team members spotted in 2017 was tablescaping—i.e product storytelling articulated through artistically arranged table-top displays of multiple small elements.

Did we miss anything? If we did, drop us a note so we can add your trend to our list for 2018.

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