Although it may not feel like spring has sprung, what with the unexpected visit from the Beast from the East and sinking feeling that sunshine may never grace our skies again, it really is that time of year; the time when Marketing and Event Managers are frantically finalising budgets and deciding what shows their company or clients will attend over the coming year and beyond.

Making the decision to showcase your brand at an exhibition is a big deal – it costs money, time and lots of energy. Quite often it’s a chance to wow those that matter and bolster your sales and reputation. Put simply, a successful show can change the course of a company – just ask our clients. But choosing the right exhibition at the right time, whilst paramount, isn’t where it ends. In order to get the most out of a show and really reap the rewards, your exhibition stand must be the perfect platform from which to ‘sell’ your product – be it a ground breaking piece of software or a new line of cosmetics that’s set to shake the industry.

Deciding upon an exhibition stand design isn’t quite akin to choosing a new pair of shoes or a designer handbag, but with both choices, you must consider the latest fashions in order to stand out and be recognised. It’s about selecting a design that reflects the ethos of your company and whatever it is your showcasing.

MxL has been in the exhibition design game for over 40 years. We’ve seen numerous stand design trends come and go, but here are a few that are making waves at the moment; should you be looking for some inspiration.

Technology – It’s Going Nowhere

It will come as no surprise that incorporating technology into an exhibition stand is a major stand design trend right now, as it has been for a number of years. More and more companies are taking advantage of what modern technology can offer a brand – the opportunities are really quite exciting.

Visitors to shows are savvier than ever – they want information to be delivered to them in new and innovative ways. They want to be informed and ‘wowed’ when they step onto a stand and using technology is quite often the answer to making this happen.

Most of our clients will request the use of AV equipment. This often allows them to incorporate touch-screen tablets, televisions and computers onto their stands. These details aren’t revolutionary but the impact can be quite dramatic, ensuring the product is brought to life for the visitor. Interactive displays can also help to entice traffic to a stand. If an eye-catching video is playing or there is an opportunity to ‘get involved’ somehow, this could stop visitors in their tracks and make them want to see what all the fuss is about. And who knows what will happen once they’re there.

Using technology doesn’t have to be expensive either. We’ve worked with clients on tight budgets that have ended up with show-stopping stands full to the brim with the latest technological offerings.

Excitingly, for those with a little more cash to invest, the possibilities are far reaching. From custom made apps and tailor-made games to interactive surfaces that will keep visitors entertained for hours, if you can visualise it, there’s most likely a way we can make it happen.

As well as creating magic in-house, we also work closely with our partners in the tech world to turn our clients’ dreams into reality. No idea is too crazy, we enjoy pushing boundaries and being at the forefront of technology. So if you have an outlandish idea you want to see come to fruition, you know where to come.

Keeping It (Kind Of) Private

The aim of attending an exhibition is to attract the masses and bowl them over with whatever it is you’ve got to offer. You want to tell the world about your magical brand and product, and quite rightly so.

However, sometimes it’s important to be able to offer an element of privacy. You may want to sit down with special 2visitors or offer a private space for more sensitive discussions.

Over the last 12 months we’ve seen a rise in requests for ‘semi-secluded’ areas that offer an open and free feel as well as an element of privacy.

Even the most modest of stands that are lacking in floor space can benefit from having a mix of open and intimate areas.

Yes, you can opt for frosted plastic or glass screens to create some separation, without closing the area off completely. This is an easy and cost effective way of providing a quiet zone, and with every colour option under the sun available, the screens can tie in seamlessly with the look and feel of your stand proving that style and practicality can go hand in hand.

There are, however, some more elaborate (and quite frankly, more interesting) ways of tackling this need for seclusion.

Take printed voiles for example. We’ve been using this method a lot lately. It allows you to stretch the fabric around an area of the exhibition stand, a meeting area say, to provide a zone that is more private. With this type of fabric, you can choose to print whatever you desire onto it, be a bold portrait or corporate branding, but you will always be able to see through it. It ensures the stand feels open, whilst giving you the option of inviting guests to a more private area. Little creative touches like this are simple to achieve and won’t break the bank but will make a big difference.

Then there’s the clever cut-out option. Take a solid wall and tastefully use logos, slogans or imagery to remove chunks from it. Like most great trends, it’s simple but highly effective. You get creative freedom and defined zones all with a light and airy feel that makes the most of the space you have paid for.

One of the most visually inspiring stand design trends at the moment is that of ‘floating’ foam balls. It sounds modest but the effect is anything but. Use a plethora of foam balls and suspend them from the ceiling of the exhibition stand with a clear wire to create a jaw-dropping wow-factor. They can be arranged into logos or fluid shapes to create an area that obscures the view, making it a little more private.

Going one step further, if the budget allows, these balls can be attached to a motor that permits them to shift shapes and even change colour. Watch your visitors stare in amazement, as the stand becomes a show in itself.

Lighting The Way

Lighting isn’t just about ensuring your products can be seen; it’s about creating the perfect atmosphere on your stand.

They have been around for years, but light boxes remain on the wish list of most clients. They’re popular because they’re relatively cheap, will grab the attention of visitors and can be tailored with your logo, strapline or whatever you want to highlight.

While light boxes will stand the test of time, it’s the trend for neon signs that is hot right now. They’re not only making an impact in top London restaurants and bars, they can now be spotted on the trendiest of exhibition stands.

Think fuchsia pink, cool blue and electric yellow tubing – glowing text signs are totally en-vogue right now. They’re retro and modern at the same time and with advancements in technology, you no longer have to use neon. Opt for LED illumination for a safer, more cost effective solution that’s better suited to an exhibition environment.

The 3D Effect

Make it ‘pop’ with ‘real’ 3D effect shapes. 3D designs have always been popular but now you don’t have to resort to giving 2D shapes thickness. With 3D printing (a topic that probably deserves its own blog) and clever CNC machines, you can push the boundaries of 3D effects and really bring an exhibition space to life. Think of any shape, any logo, any emblem and you can have it in all its 3D glory.

This gives the client creative freedom and it’s much quicker and cheaper to achieve these days, making it a stand design trend that’s here to stay.

Stripping It Back

A very popular trend of late involves a more natural way of thinking where ‘less is more’. By using sheet materials such as ply, sterling board and even MDF and doing very little to them, you can quite easily create a stripped back, industrial feel that wouldn’t look out of place in a Shoreditch hotel.

Embrace the trend by incorporating tables, walling and furniture in these materials – the possibilities are almost limitless.

You can even print direct onto these materials for an edgier, more bespoke look. Add to this some unfinished steel tubing and you’ve got an uber chic, industrial vibe.

MxL recently created a space for the University of Northampton during Graduate Fashion Week that focussed on the use of raw ply. It looked fantastic (if we do say so ourselves) and we’ve got other clients wanting the same effect, proving this trend isn’t going anywhere fast.

We make it our business to be ahead of the stand design trends so that our clients can make maximum impact at their shows. Whether it’s a futuristic techy affair or a high-fashion showstopper you’re after, we’ve got the flair, experience and know-how to deliver. Just give one of our knowledgeable and friendly Project Managers a call for an informed chat.

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