Getting Personal | Q&A With A Lead Trade Show Exhibit Designer

by May 31, 2016

We here at Marketing Genome feel that potential exhibitors should not only have a business relationship with our designers but also a personal one. This process includes everything from becoming familiar with our designers designs to what gets them out of bed in the morning (besides good coffee).


We invite you to take a long gander inside the head of Bryan Pecelli, a talented and seasoned lead designer here at Marketing Genome. Enjoy!

What was the hardest project you’ve ever been faced with and why? How did you get past it? 

“I can’t say that one specific trade show project stands out”. I would say that overall, the hardest part of a design is the marriage of functional spaces that allow it to operate efficiently- maximizing space, booth flow, creating a welcoming environment, etc. while delivering a product that stands out in a way that properly conveys the brand.


I can usually tell I’m designing properly if the functional needs such as meeting rooms and storage spaces blend into the overall structural footprint and act as design features as well.


“Experiences delivered” is thrown around by Marketing Genome a lot. How do you ingrain this in your designs?

It’s just that, every project we take ownership of then becomes our commitment to delivering an experience to our customers’ audience. It takes A LOT more than an attractive exhibit to produce a memorable experience- it’s a strategic approach that leaves a long lasting impression long after the initial visit.


We ingrain that through unique activations that engage at multiple touch points, from social integration, to cutting edge virtual technology and getting the attendee involved.

It’s about human interaction tying it back to the brand and making sure it stands out from what everyone else is doing.

What is your absolute favorite type of design, booth layout or “arrangement”? Why? 

This is a tough one, but my favorite designs are when customers are looking to push the envelope creatively and are not afraid to make a bold statement.

That’s truly what is best about being an exhibit designer, unlike a residential setting- where it needs to remain more traditional, your given the chance to physically represent an organization or brand and the personality that embodies it.

My favorite designs have a visual contrast, hero graphics that act as a focal point, varied textures, vibrant lighting, minimal clutter, and one unified and direct bold graphic statement.

Where do you see the design part of the industry heading in the near future? 3d renders, virtual booth tours, etc.…?

In time, the design industry is heading towards full immersion virtual booth tours, period. That transition will be a long one though. In the near future I think you will see a lot more augmented reality and hologram visits to environments and spaces.

The traditional static renders will always exist as a first pass though, especially on smaller less detailed projects.

Budgets are almost always one of clients main concerns. What measures do you take to stay within or below budgets? 

We operate differently than most exhibit providers because the number of factors that go into the process of exhibiting. The best thing a customer can do is be transparent and provide a range of which they would like to spend. From that point, we jump into a deep dive of their needs and wants and give them what we feel will be the best possible outcome within that number. With that, we include ALL costs they can anticipate such as material handling, electric, shipping, flooring, etc. Essentially, aside from renting the space through the show organizer we handle all costs and aspects of the exhibiting process. Internally for that to work, it means that our estimator, designer and fabrication team need to all be autonomous with one another to make sure we remain within that budget.

Things happen that are out of your control, and staying within budget isn’t always easy but as industry experts it’s our responsibility to guide our customers through that process and make sure they are the ones staying within budget.

What do you usually require from clients to get a “good” design and what do you consider a “good” design?

Great design is the by-product of good communication. Taking the time to give us all aspects of what has made them successful as in the past, where they are currently, and what is going to be their core goals moving forward.

Armed with that wealth of information, its then our job make sure the correct brand messaging is aligned with an attractive but strategic approach to engagement.

What are some other major client concerns (sans budget) you see and how important are they?

With good reason, the biggest client concern is trust. With live events and trade shows, you only get one change to “get it right” so your customer is putting a great deal of faith into your ability to deliver on time, on budget and to a level of quality above the industry standard.

Another concern is, things that are out of your control or last minute changes before the show opens. The difference is having a plan in place to overcome these obstacles, like having large networks in each city that you do business in, such as a printer, flooring company, even back-up staffing, etc.

What drove you to get into this field/ industry?

I’ve always had an appreciation for great design and architecture. Even as a kid, I always thought the forts I built were these monumental feats that should have stayed up for weeks.

After getting a degree in Marketing and PR, I began my first job working for an event agency that used to outsource design work. I used to have a heavy hand in the process and realized I could do it way better than the people we were hiring. I really enjoyed the process, so I committed myself to learning the programs and staying up to speed with the latest exhibit systems and trends in the industry. There was no turning back….

What is the hands down # 1 thing you love about the tradeshow/ event industry?

Do I have to narrow it down to one thing? Let’s call it two:

1. You are always working on something new and fresh. It never get’s boring, it never becomes stale and it gives me the opportunity to express myself creatively on a daily basis.

2.  I also love the competitive nature of this industry. It reminds me of playing sports as a kid and the rush that comes with knowing you are going against someone else. Hundreds of companies are all trying to make tens of thousands of companies stand out and look better than the next. It pushes me to stay current and make sure that I’m working harder than everyone else.

If you were given an unlimited budget, time and resources what would your dream booth design look like? 

The PC answer for me to say is that I already work with the best brands in the business and I’ve already built my dream booth, but I’ll spill the beans:

While I do work with great brands and even better people behind them, my dream booth would be somewhere in the outdoor sports industry. My wife and I love hiking, mountain biking, kayaking and pretty much anything outside so I would love the opportunity to flex some design muscle with one of those manufactures in that space.

From a design perspective, I like to think I would make it run with the unlimited budget and produce something more thematic rather than traditional exhibit systems.

I can guarantee you it would be like nothing you ever saw before and have consumer activations at every touch point. One day, right?

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