The Trade Show Exhibit Design Process – Part 2, Design Phase

09/17/15 by Brandon

Last week, we promised to talk about what goes into the exhibit budget first. That’s because it’s crucial to have the budget before we begin phase two, which is the Exhibit Design phase. When Exhibit Edge looks at the total new exhibit budget, we have to include all the following cost:

  • Concept Design
  • Design Development
  • Detailing and Fabrication
  • Permanent Graphics
  • Carpet and Padding
  • Custom Crating
  • Furniture and/or Equipment

Exhibit Edge's Exhibit Design Process

It is important that you look at your budget knowing all these elements will be factored into the cost. Once we know what you want through the discovery and information phase we will then proceed with a concept design. The concept design can be in many forms and is usually determined by the type of relationship the display house has with the exhibitor. Is this a competitive RFP or is this a working relationship with your current provider? You may also be a provider pre-chosen before the design process through an RFI.

Concept sketches can be created to give a basic look and layout. They can be pencil sketches or black and white frame CAD drawings to show the basic structure. These can be done relatively quickly and inexpensively to identify the overall feel of the exhibit. The idea is to have a lot of back and forth between you and your exhibit house to narrow down a working concept before the design department goes to renderings. A lot of little design updates and revisions are capable during these back and forth conversations.

Remember this process is not done if there is a competitive RFP. The companies involved in an RFP will go straight to a full concept rendering, sample material boards, and a design rationale knowing they only have one shot at winning the project. There are advantages and disadvantages to each. The advantage of a competitive RFP is that you get different exhibit concept ideas. The disadvantage is that you have less say in the design development process.

Either way the design development usually ends up with a full color exhibit rendering with different views. There are usually three or four different views of the exhibit. They are given names like the front view, back view, and perspective view (which is kind of a front corner view with a little tilt to it so you see as many of the exhibit components as possible.) Another common view is a top view, which is often referred to as a “birdseye view” for obvious reasons.

Other design drawings will include the different exhibit sizes that are possible using the same exhibit components. Let’s say you are looking for a 20 x 20 exhibit size. From that 20 x 20 you may be able to get a 10 x 30, 10 x 20, and a 10 x 10 configuration from the same exhibit components.

So you can see that a lot goes into the concept design and the design development phase. This phase is a major cost to an exhibit company that can be anywhere from $1,000 to $5,000 just in the hope of winning a new client exhibit. This is why it is important to be as detailed and comprehensive as possible in the discovery and information phase of the exhibit creation process. The information you provide is crucial to the outcome of the exhibit design.

And one last word of advice: only provide details of the exhibit requirements based upon who the person is that has the final decision.

Next week we’ll be covering the approval and signature phase in Part Three of our Exhibit Design Process series.