Monday, September 26, 2016


Exhibition Design?

There is no such thing today like "exhibition design".
Trade show creation still has nothing in common with professional design.
Modern architecture and industrial design demonstrates stunning examples of a new vision of the world.
At the same time the philosophy and aesthetics of trade show still cannot run beyond the triangle:Flea market - Garage sale - Disneyland
. Sometimes triangle looks a bit different: “Casino - Junk yard - Earthquake ruins”. Anyway, the decent portion of visual stench is always guaranteed.
Exhibit designer is sitting between two censors - client's exhibit manager on one side and exhibit company salesperson on the other.
Both of them usually have no design education or experience, but have the unrestricted right to impose their “vision”.
Unfortunately that vision does not take in consideration dramatic changes in trade show philosophy appeared along with the Internet Revolution. Now people are coming to trade show after they’ve got entire info related to a product or service they are interested in. They have got it from web pages. Because of this we do not need tons of posters, graphics, monitors, texts, pictures, videos etc within the exhibit space. The only thing we need is a real product to touch (if possible) and a couple of company’s people alive to talk to them within the perfectly designed space.
Thus, I am sure, the most important and intriguing challenge for designer is creation the entire exhibit shape as an unforgettable unique visual phenomenon. It is the only way for people to remember the brand. It is what web design is not capable to do. It is what no one except designer can do. It is the only way for exhibit design to survive in Internet Era.
Choosing this way to work designer will face serious obstacles. These obstacles came from a long row of old superstitions, living in form of mantras. Those mantras maintain the body of standard RFP.  Here is a couple of most popular ones:
Mantra #1:
“Exhibit should be open”. That’s the most stupid stupidity I ever heard. Yes, if some has just one exhibit in the trade show floor, certainly it could be open. But if you have more it should not. Dozens of visually “opened” booths create a chaos and nothing more. If you can see through each of them, there is no reason to spend money for such a show. Of course each booth should be accessible for public physically, but not transparent visually. Visually exhibit should submit elegant unforgettable stunning shape of its shell. That’s the main challenge for designers. All other goals could be reached without them and without trade show at all. 
Mantra #2:
“Reception desk should be located on the hot corner of a booth”.
It is very important thing both for prison gate and luxury hotel entrance. For both cases control for entering and leaving persons is a crucial thing. But trade shows’ attendees not always want to be a victim of obtrusive receptionists. So let’s leave them alone. In that way you will get more people on the floor. Arrange comfortable information desk within the booth and let people to decide either to use it or not.
I could continue to discuss a lot of other obsolete mantras from mountains of RFP on my desk. But you can do it alone, just look on the situation professionally. I am sure the first mantra you are going to pay attention on will be “Client always right”. Just convert it in “Client always wrong” and you will return back to the most crucial cultural principle of human civilization.  

Dmitry Azrikan,
PhD in Fine Arts,
Independent Designer,
Chicago, IL