Imagine what it takes to build a house. Before any construction begins, you need a blueprint to ensure your home is built safely. The detailing component of exhibit design is literally the blueprint for the fabrication of the exhibit.
An exhibit designer usually has an architectural background or some form of product design. During the design phase he is already thinking of the components to be used in the fabrication of the exhibit. These “call outs” are provided to the detailer to create the many different types of drawing that the fabrication shop will use for the final product. Detail drawings are no small task. They will include:
- Structural Drawings
- Electrical Drawings
- Mechanical Drawings
- Setup Drawings
They can be in the form of elevation views, exploded views, and many other dimensional views with exact detail from the length of the bolt down to the shape of the corner connection. Exact dimensions, heights, thicknesses, and materials used are all part of intricate detail drawings – hence the name detail drawings. You should be offered a set of drawings to approve and given a general overview of the information.
Don’t feel intimidated by the drawings; they are made for shop fabricators. When I look at detail drawings I have a hard time visualizing the finished product myself. (Thank goodness for color CAD renderings!) What I do look for are overall dimensions, types of hardware, adjustable shelving, and good wire management. These are some of the things that can separate a good exhibit from a great exhibit. Just ask be sure to ask questions and make the exhibit house show you on the drawing how it’s done.
Once you agree to purchase the exhibit, make sure you get a copy of all the detail drawings. You paid for the drawings with the purchase and they can be invaluable later when you need information about specific details for future purchases or repairs. Notice that I said that the drawings are yours after you agree to purchase the exhibit. That is an important distinction, as all designs remain the property of the Exhibit House who created them until you purchase the exhibit.
Detail drawings are especially costly to prepare. (A little inside humor in the exhibit industry is to say that by the time the exhibit goes through the design and detailing phase, there is no money left in the budget to build the exhibit!) Remember that each exhibit is a prototype, basically a new creation, made just for you. Hopefully this gives you a better perspective as to the costs associated with an exhibit design and fabrication.
The EDPA (which stands for the Exhibit Designers and Producers Association) provides information on average costs for exhibit fabrications by size. Next week I will lead off with these averages to help you budget for future exhibit purchases when I talk about the fabrication process.