Trade show booth design is a vital part of the industry without which booths wouldn’t look half as amazing as they do today. But before we take a step into the future, a brief history lesson; Trade shows were birthed from industrial revolution of the late 1800’s. When typical brick and mortar storefronts alone did not provide enough marketing authority to compete with big box retailers.
Once the word spread about the exposure “trade fairs” presented, everyone jumped on board. It was only a matter of time before pipe and drape exhibitors started looking for a way to compete. So from the birth of one revolution spawned yet another new industry. “Behold! The trade show exhibit house and their trusty exhibit designers. Now you can have a booth nicer than even the biggest competitor”
Jump forward a few centuries and we’ve ditched the drafting tables for laptops making anyone with a little creativity and access to a few vendors a “custom trade show agency”. Today floods of “exhibit houses” are all competing across multiple industries for new business.
One way to distinguish the impostors from the experts is by their design skills. Many claim to provide free 3D booth designs, many of which are not much more than an amateur concept by a junior designer spit out in an hour or less – a far cry from true 3D.
True 3D designs are a carefully calculated art and should be designed around a large number of factors. If you are expecting a 3D booth design, know what you should be looking for by reading below.
3 Stages Of A Complete 3D Booth Design
If you’ve scheduled your consultation, had an exploratory meeting and ready to give the go-ahead to the trade show company to start designing, these are a few elements that should expect to see:
1. Framing Layouts
Framing and extrusion is usually the bulk of exhibit pricing. Therefore a complete “skeleton” is often rendered prior to “skinning” the exhibit. This is done for many reasons including;
- Accuracy in pricing and proper budgeting.
- Alignment of packing orders between warehouse/ designers.
- Instructional Diagrams to reduce build times for high rate trade show labor.
If you’re curious about where your money is being spent, ask for a framing layout or at very least, the number of panels and price per needed for your build. You’d be surprised how much prices are inflated here…
2. 3D Renders
Free or not, 3D Booth designs should put you in the booth as if you were an attendee. This includes any interior shots of any storage closets, meeting rooms, counters, monitors, display cases, etc. When receiving final 3D booth designs they should include as many viewpoints as possible. Depending on intricacies and size, it’s not uncommon to see 6-10 renders on an RFP or proposal. From dead-on front views to top downs, every angle desired to make a final decision should be provided.
When professional 3D exhibit designs are executed they are typically done so in a program that can manipulate the viewpoint in any dimension. Spin, zoom, upside down – want to see the inside wall picture frame of the northwest corner? No problem. Some of the better exhibit designers can even do a real time live trade show booth design over a simple screen share!
3. Graphic Templates
After final approval of the exhibit design and a signed contract the process of organizing graphics begins. Graphic templates should ALWAYS be provided by the trade show company. This indicates what graphics will go on which panel, the exact size and file requirements and whether it is an SEG fabric display or hard panel. There are different requirements for back lit panels, which should be indicated as well. Once graphic templates are completed another 3D render may be provided but usually is nothing more than a reassurance and therefore not a necessity.
3 Very Different Types of Trade Show Booth Designs
Booth Designs come in a multitude of styles. Everything from graph paper sketches all the way to VR walkthroughs. Below are some of the more common styles of designing and where they are most appropriate.
1. 2-Dimensional (2D) Renders.
These are the “napkin sketches” of exhibit design. Used for simple pop-up displays and preliminary layout purposes, they take much less time to put together. They only give 2 perspectives at a time, i.e. length x width, height x width, etc. These are more suited to determine space allotments.
2. 3-Dimensional (3D) Renders
3D undoubtedly provides much more detail with the 3rd perspective giving a glimpse into the “feel” within its space. This again can be any angle of the booth- top, front, back, side, etc. as well as any interior shot you may need. If there’s a TV build into the back left wall and you want to see it this should be no problem for the exhibit designer
3. Full Virtual Reality Renders and Augmented Reality Renders.
With use of a phone or tablet and an easy to use app (Augment) this method can take you on a complete tour of your booth as if you were actually there sitting on top of your desk! You can literally place your booth on a coffee table and walk around it. If you think seeing is believing than this method is as close to the real thing as you’ll get. See below.
When To Jump To 3D Booth Designs
Obviously true 3D is better for visualization. Basing how your exhibit will perform on a 2D design could become quite difficult. Is a greeting counter too hidden by a wall? Is a monitor clearly visible above a display case?
Most exhibitors trying to work off a 2D design will find themselves over designing to the point of 3D anyway. Conceptualizing how an exhibit will look based on a 2D design in unison with a graphic template takes a very creative imagination and in our opinion becomes frustrating and counterproductive. Almost impossible.
2D has it’s place and it works very well for preliminary layouts as it can be done quickly. 3D should really only be used for the last 2-3 trade show booth ideas as they (should) take substantially more time. While some companies will require a deposit or contract prior to starting a design others simply enjoy designing and are motivated to flex their creative muscle ;-).
If you find yourself sketching on paper, then picking up rulers and a calculator you’re design skills undoubtedly outdated. Try your hand at a few beginner convention booth design programs. It can be useful educational experiences but if you’re ready to get serious, find yourself a good 3D booth designer. It could mean the difference between attendees passing by and having to get security to maintain crowds.