Tips and Trends

Unconventional Exhibit Design Approaches Increases Memorability

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

How do you ensure that your trade show exhibit stands out? By taking an unconventional and nuanced approach.

As the host of VMworld, VMware’s objective was to take a new and unconventional approach to its exhibit that would be unexpected, memorable, and unique. The solution, created by 3D Exhibits, was to design the exhibit as an urban park space, set against a cityscape backdrop. Customers explored solutions via winding paths that wove through five distinct landscapes, a grassy area, a gazebo, and a reflecting pond.


In the process, VMware reinforced that its products make it possible to work from anywhere.

However, what ensured that this experience worked wasn’t the them alone—it was the nuanced implementation of the theme. Every detail was thought through—from messaging hierarchy to micro environments that differentiated the various solutions zones.

Here are 13 of the details that ensured the VMware exhibit’s success:

1. Approached the space as an urban park. The VMware exhibit was designed as an urban park space. Inspired by iconic parks such as Central Park and Golden Gate Park, each area of the “park” featured its own unique experience.


2. Employed a cityscape mural as a backdrop. This fictional city graphic ran the width of the exhibit and marked the far boundary of the exhibit hall with an expansive blue sky.

3. Differentiated the various solutions zones within the exhibit. Each solutions zone had its own unique landscaping features, plant life, and hardscaping—as well as a unique projected lighting texture/breakup pattern. These visual cues intuitively let visitors know they’d passed from one solutions zone to another.

4. Integrated tiered messaging. The VMware logo soared overhead (tier 1) while a call to action (Realize what’s possible, tier 2) floated over the cityscape. Solutions zone headlines hung overhead and were repeated on the tops of individual solutions story stations (tier 3). Each solutions story featured digital signage as well as a demo (tier 4).

5. Led visitors “to the clouds.” The “Integrate Public Clouds” zone featured fabric discs and scrim and evoked the sense that visitors were in the clouds. This of course, was a nod to VMware’s cloud-storage that enables people to work from anywhere. The immersion was completed by a fog screen with cloud imaging that people passed through on their way into this zone.

6. Encouraged hanging out. A grassy area with a large tree and picnic table gave visitors the opportunity to relax, recharge, and collaborate. This brought home the message of “work from anywhere.”


7. Included realistic details. A digital reflecting pond featured grasses, boulders, a foot bridge and a pond. Theatrical lighting brought the water to life as messages and fun facts “bubbled” up to the water’s surface in digital pools.

8. Featured a business theater. The presentation schedule was listed on digital signage. A waterfall video played on the theater monitor between presentations adding yet another water feature to the park.


9. Leveraged AR and interactive content. The gazebo area featured large touch screens where attendees explored AR environments depicting various industries that are driven by VMware products and solutions. Graphical icons identifying each industry’s individual interaction zone were positioned on the gazebo deck.

10. Facilitated wayfinding and traffic flow. Generous spacing between solutions zones, demo kiosks, and other features ensured good traffic flow even when the solutions demos were packed with visitors. Faux concrete flooring was used to surface paths through the exhibit. These created a sense of exploration that encouraged visitors to wind their way to all areas of the booth. Victorian-style sign posts pointed the way from one zone to the next.

11.Utilized digital signage. Digital signage behind the reception area and in the theater area articulated daily event and presentation schedules. Digital “plaques” (a play on the donor plaques found in real parks) throughout the exhibit carried customer environmental dedication stories.

12. Utilized white boards. A white board at every solutions station encouraged attendees and VMware staff to quickly sketch out their points.

13. Extended dwell time with fun “park” engagements. These included a caricature artist drawing on a Dell Canvas digital tablet, a giant branded Jenga game, and more.


What are the extra details you use to enrich attendees’ experience in your exhibit?

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