Some months ago I was asked by an agency I work with to provide examples of the latest trends in exhibition and displays.  I really struggled with this as just because something is considered a trend, does not mean it is worth jumping on or is applicable to the business in question.  For example, this trend of young fellas having all their hair force -tamed over to one side of their head like they have had the misfortune to stumble sideways into a wind tunnel…is it good?  Should  every young fella this side of 32 be scrambling to copy it?  Hells no.  The dudes that sport it look like 17 flavours of wrong.

And a disclaimer.  I was born in Newcastle.  I love hard rock music. I love Def Leppard in a non-ironic way.  I love wearing jeans and heels (note: I did not say wedges).  I only love wearing blacks and blues, colour blocking makes me look like a clown freak show.  I still wear frosted eye shadow and eat cake for breakfast and would rather chew glass than drink green juice.  So trends and I?  Let’s call it a very long distance relationship and we don’t check in with each other much.  Not even at Christmas.

But here’s what I know.  I know what works for a client in the exhibition and design field.  It might be considered a trend but more often that not, it is a solution that just elegantly solves a particular problem a client has asked me to solve.  Trends seem a little like wearable fashion to me: popular and experienced by many but suits very few. It reminds me of the rush towards touch screen technology on many exhibition stands.  Everyone’s got to have it but very few understand the nuances of using it and have poor content, no strategy surrounding its lead capturing abilities and no clue how it might fold into the marketing plan.  Touch screens are like the high waisted bum skimming shorts of the trade show stand.  Think carefully before doing it and when you do decide to work it, work it HARD.

So while I’ll pass on following slavishly the trends of the exhibition industry, I can do a show and tell on what is lighting me up and  that I am loving playing with right now.  I’ll include a few before and after shots here so you can see how, by introducing some simple ideas and techniques the “blah” can be made “RAH!”.  And who doesn’t love a transformational before and after photo?!?


Ooooh, I am just loving texture right now.  Veneers, fabrics, soft plastics, hard shiny metals, the folding plant fronds, smooth surfaces, roughed up painted flats, I’m just cracked out on textures and love introducing a tactile element to the displays I work on.  For a client of mine, Vital Diagnostics,  it was time for a new trade show stand after 5 years of faithful service from their previous one.  One of the main features of the new stand was the moulded wall panels on the back wall of the stand that tied in nicely with the overhead signage rings.


Vital-Diagnostics Before & After


Working with Siemens on their new stand kit, we have been stripping out the normal load up of machinery on display and replaced with informal discussion areas and large planter displays. I can’t tell you how much some well placed sculptural style of greenery just lifts the look and feel of a stand.  A display can go from cold and corporate to relaxed and welcoming with some well-chosen and positioned pieces.


Siemens Before & After


I am a total slave to a well-lit display.  Truly, I see so many interesting stands and they are poorly lit, it is such a bummer.  So when I worked with AV Jennings on their Arlington sales office, a tight budget was overcome with using cheap chinese paper lanterns to help define a discussion area.  A playful element was added that was a total fit with the beachy, coastal lifestyle the development was offering.

Arlington Before & After

Arlington Before & After


Yeah, I am still digging it!  And texture does not just have to be used for texture’s sake, you can push it so it has more relevance to the brand.  For example, working with Brown Property Group on The Avenue land sales office, I had the logo of Brown laser cut into the timber surface. It was done as an overall pattern so it was not belting the visitor over the head with logo overload and it integrated the brand into the display in a unique way.

The Avenue Before & After

Those are just a few of the things I am loving working with right now. I am less concerned with following trends than I am with providing my clients with unique solutions.  I think this approach can also act as an anti-aging technique that keep the display fresh and not slip from what is considered a “current trend”.  If you would like to ask a question on what else I am working on or suggest something else to investigate, please leave your queries and suggestions in the comments section below.  I will happily talk turkey!

Ok, I mentioned Def Leppard early on in the post so you just know I have to spin one of their tunes.  Play it while wearing your best (TIGHT) stone washed jeans.

See you next week!