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Exhibition Stand Systems

A display that gains the attention of potential customers is key to exhibition success. Brenda Hodgson provides a round-up of the stand systems making an impact It is possible to create visually stunning event spaces without breaking the bank

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The Easylock system from System Standex is a series of modular frames that can be linked together

Stand out impact

We have come a long way since trade fairs were established in Medieval Europe, when they consisted of produce and craft producers visiting different towns to sell and showcase their wares. From the late 18th century, with the growth of the Industrial Revolution, industrial exhibitions became more common in both Europe and North America and by the late 19th century, annual industry-wide trade shows began to be established, giving rise to the emergence in the 20th century of permanent venues and specialised companies to manage the industry.

Throughout this time, however, one feature has remained constant—the display or exhibition stand.

Today, when four out of every five visitors can be considered as prospective customers, the creation of an eye-catching and attention-grabbing display is paramount, especially when the need to distract visitors from their mobile devices also comes into play.

With a wide choice of exhibition stand manufacturers and suppliers, and a broad spectrum of products currently available, most exhibitors will be able to find a solution that meets their specific requirements and budget. In order to provide an overview of the options on offer, I asked some of the industry’s key players to highlight the latest developments as well as some of their ‘tried and trusted’ exhibition stand systems, from small freestanding units to large-scale projects.

Banners and pop-ups


Banners and pop-ups have been a well-established display option over many years, being used either as stand-alone items or integrated into the overall exhibition stand design. Ultima Displays recently launched new updates to its Formulate free-standing tension banner range, which is characterised by the double-sided fabric graphics and zip system.

“The range is extremely lightweight, with no visible joints and delivers amazing impact with eye-catching shapes and graphics,” says Ultima Displays product manager, Andy Jakes, continuing: “The structures are easy to dress with zipped tensioned fabric graphics and easy to assemble with numbered tool-free tubular frames that create immediate impact with their dramatic shapes.”


The Snake is one of Ultima Displays’ Formulate tension banner range and features 30mm diameter poles that make the structure lighter

The Monolith and the Snake are the latest tension banners in the range to receive a makeover and have evolved to meet the growing needs of Ultima’s customers. Ultima Displays’ product development team is always looking to improve the product range and one of the major improvements is to the Monolith’s base, which is made from metal to provide extra stability and is now hinged for easier transportation and storage. Dye-sublimation fabric graphics ensure that the lightweight and portable structure beneath is securely concealed. Easy to transport and simple to build, the Monolith is suitable for retail and exhibition environments, or corporate setting.

“Unlike similar solutions, the tubular frame is now secured to the base, providing extra stability when deployed, making it ideal for high traffic areas,” Jakes adds.

The updated Formulate Snake tension banner features new 30mm diameter poles, making the structure lighter. A tensioned fabric sock is simply stretched over the snake shaped tubular frame to create instant visual impact.

Jakes continues: “The Formulate tension banner range is perfect in situations where the message needs to be changed frequently, such as a show or retail environment. The range offers a wide variety of shapes that are quick and easy to assemble. Formulate banners are guaranteed to draw attention, and the stunning, cost-effective graphics are simple to change.”

With a combined 80 years’ experience in visual display systems and products, Innotech has seen a massive increase in the sales of its super-wide Panorama roller banner over the past twelve months. Ideal for backdrops or large public spaces, this is the widest pop-up display in Innotech’s range, available in 2.4 and 3.2m widths.

Innotech has seen a massive increase in sales of its super-wide Panorama roller banner, which comes in 2.4 and 3.2m widths

National sales manager of Innotech, Russell Alexander, states: “It is ideal for high-profile indoor events and perfect for creating a dedicated micro-environment for your business or product within a larger exhibition or retail space. Furthermore, Panorama is intuitively designed for practical transportation and assembly by the individual. A trio of heavy duty bungee poles ensure your message stays up as long as it is required while the heavy duty casing offers maximum stability.”

Innotech also offers a 60mm outdoor banner system designed for wall mounting. Backlit graphics are tensioned inside the frame, and the profile is then clipped over the top to give a luxury feel to a simple backlit banner graphic.

“The sleek 60mm frame transforms a simple backlit banner into a work of art, while LED backlighting brings every detail vibrantly to life,” Alexander stresses, adding: “Stunning and eye-catching in any location, this LED frame’s slim profile and wide-format make it a powerful marketing tool in dynamic, fast-paced retail and leisure environments.”

The LED backlighting strips are safe, energy efficient, and long-lasting. With the banner measuring 1000 x 2000mm, the system is suitable for outdoor use and comes with an external power supply. Another product from Innotech that has proved very popular since its launch earlier this year is the Illuminate pop-up system, a large-format portable backdrop display system that the company claims is leading the way in eco-friendly, illuminated display technology thanks to its high-tech results and incredibly simple assembly combined with the addition of an LED light kit.

The Illuminate large-format portable backdrop pop-up display system from Innotech has proved very popular since its launch earlier this year

This heavy-duty pop-up system assembles in seconds using clip connectors to secure the articulated frame and two support feet for additional stability. Graphics are attached using the keder ‘rod and channel’ system for easy installation and optimal tensioning for what Alexander describes as ‘an all-round showstopping performance’.
“The LEDs are ultra energy efficient, they don’t heat up, and they won’t break or fuse so you can be assured of safe, reliable performance for many years on the road,” concludes Alexander.

Highlighting developments in illuminated systems, graphic display specialist Leach Impact has recently unveiled its Vision Lightwall, a new product that the company says is specifically designed to challenge traditional exhibition stand thinking. Available in three key formats, the Vision Lightwall products integrate ultra-bright LED illumination with large-format photographic-quality graphics, to offer brands a more impactful solution when exhibiting at trade shows and conferences.

Vision Lightwall from Leach Impact is a self-assembly, lightweight pop-up that Leach believes represents a modern alternative to the conventional pull-up banner

Mike Willshaw, Leach Impact’s head of innovation, says: “This self-assembly, lightweight pop-up represents a more modern alternative to the conventional pull-up banner. With options up to 2m tall x 3m wide, this particular freestanding Lightwall is intended to provide brands with maximum exposure at smaller events.”

For larger spaces, the Modular Exhibition Lightwall can be supplied in sizes up to 5m tall x 20m wide. Engineered with flexibility in mind, this solution presents an array of visually striking possibilities. In addition, a series of optional add-ons, including in-built TVs and hanging profiles, can be incorporated into the Modular system, for added wow factor.

Recognising that there is no such thing as a ‘one size fits all’ configuration, Leach has designed flexibility so that clients can choose from a non-illuminated specification, edge lighting with beam LEDs, the brightest back-lit option, or a soon to be launched flexible light sheet, which enables the system to be rolled up for ultimate movability.

Leach Impact’s Modular Exhibition Lightwall comes with a series of optional add-ons, including in-built TVs

Commenting on the team’s ambition for this range, Willshaw explains: “Exhibitions are notoriously expensive and difficult to plan for, which means brands are often accepting of lacklustre displays that still represent a significant investment and are often only single-use. But exhibitors should be able to think beyond this mind-set—it is possible to create visually stunning event spaces without breaking the bank.


It is possible to create visually stunning event spaces without breaking the bank

“As with the other lightbox products in Leach Impact’s portfolio, the Lightwall is designed to accommodate interchangeable fabric graphics which makes it the perfect solution for one event after another. The level of waste often left behind after trade shows and conferences is staggering—this solution addresses this whilst maximising clients’ return on investment.”

A modular approach

With the current trend towards minimalism in so many spheres of everyday life, the exhibition market is no exception and Unibox has seen a resurgence of interest in modular display systems.

Set Architects’ installation is a prime example of how Unibox’s modular system profiles are now being integrated into the design of the stand itself

Managing director, Nick Wraith expands: “For a long time in the display industry, the word ‘modular’ almost became taboo, due to its association with chunky profiles that seemed to curse exhibition halls up and down the country. However, with the renaissance of minimal design across other industries, particularly in retail, aluminium profile systems have regained their chic air, with exhibitors realising the potential that they hold when used creatively. We’ve been keeping tabs on how the exhibition industry as a whole approaches their stand design for quite some time, with our ideas blog stretching back to June 2016, and over that time you can see a remarkable change in the use of stand systems and tension fabric.”


Whereas, previously, modular systems were being used to create predictable shapes, framing the outside of a stand space, profiles are now being integrated into the design of the stand itself

Whereas, previously, modular systems were being used to create predictable shapes, framing the outside of a stand space, profiles are now being integrated into the design of the stand itself. Unibox client Set Architects’ installation is a prime example. Using a standard modular grid structure, they divided their space into five separate spaces by wrapping black fabric (juta) around alternate horizontal bars.

“Part of the reason exhibition stands such as these are successful is due to the customisation of the profiles themselves—in this case, the powder-coating or anodising process to create a black framework. While this is now common in the industry, some clients have taken advantage of coloured profiles to draw attention to products, while others use the aluminium profile system’s inherent modularity to integrate light,” notes Wraith.


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Factoid: In British English the word ‘exhibition’ is used for a collection of items placed on display, and the event as a whole, which in American English is usually an ‘exhibit’ (Wikipedia).  O


In one very simple, yet striking display, Nike’s ‘Color Rush’ fused white profiles with linear neon lighting to provide an eye-catching visual grab for visitors. The display created clear boundaries whilst making sure each display stood out.

In one very simple, yet striking display, Nike’s ‘Color Rush’ fused white Unibox profiles with linear neon lighting to provide an eye-catching visual impact

Wraith continues: “These examples go to show that the main benefits of modular display stands remain the same as they’ve always been—they are infinitely flexible and can undoubtedly cater to the creativity of your design. However, the key to this is partnering with a manufacturer that will guide you through the process, taking the time to understand your brief and developing a solution that integrates every element.”

In the frame

Frame systems, with their flexibility of shape, graphic displays, and illumination options, are also a popular choice. System Standex UK is a trade supplier of illuminated and non-illuminated frames to the UK sign, exhibition, and display industry. For over 50 years System Standex Denmark has worked closely with the display industry across Europe in the design and manufacture of exhibition and display stands.

Over the past nine years System Standex has introduced a range of profiles for the display of fabric graphics (under the banner SFS Frames), which come in single and double-sided options, with ranges available for both back illumination and non-illuminated fabrics.

“We have developed a wide range of purpose designed profiles and jointing systems that can be used as individual frames or linked together to produce complete exhibition stands and displays,” explains UK sales manager, David Lynes.

He continues: “At the outset it was realised that a system of easy to lock frames was required, and so Easylock was developed to fill this demand. Frame sizes and shapes are manufactured to our customers’ specifications. Accessories such as curved frames, doors, brackets to take screens and shelves, lighting systems both internal and external are all available.”

With a 20 year history of manufacture and trade supply of signs, displays, and lighting, one of Applelec’s display products that is particularly suited to exhibition applications is its textile framing system, Texa Frame. Featuring a range of made to measure properties, the framing system offers a number of design benefits and customisation opportunities. The product made its debut at Signlink Live 2017, where Applelec displayed their huge 5 x 2m illuminated TEXA Frame lightbox.

“It was designed to demonstrate the construction capabilities the framing system can deliver, along with highlighting what can be achieved to create eye-catching and impactful display stands,” comments Andy Armitage, head of signage sales at Applelec.

The framing system’s aluminium extrusions are available in 2.5m lengths, which can be joined together to create large-format lightboxes or cut to specific dimensions to accommodate various exhibition stand spaces and layouts. Providing further design options, Texa Frame is available in a wide range of solution styles such as, wall mounted, freestanding, and hanging units, which can be created in single or double-sided profile options.
 
The circular overhead canopy sign supplied by System Standex as part of Gosh Cosmetics’ exhibition stand clearly demonstrates the curved frame options available with the Easylock system

“As well as the system providing these made to measure benefits, Texa Frame has been designed with ease of use in mind, where the construction of the display framing solution provides quick and simple switch of printed fabrics,” Armitage points out, “This allows the flex-face material to be conveniently changed as and when required to update promotional graphics and enable the framing system to be re-used for future exhibition events.”

The printed skin for the framing system can be further enhanced with the integration of Sloan LED Poster Box 3 LED modules, which have been designed to deliver bright and even illumination to large lightboxes, where facing LED modules cast a spread of light up to three metres in distance. Texa Frame can be created on-site at exhibitions to enable quick and easy installation, as well as saving space during transit.

For 200m2 it is a well-established product that continues to be a best-seller, having stood the test of time.

“We have now learned that our true success lays in our original re-usable system, it looks great and will not break the bank,” states Tim Cronin, managing director of Dartmouth-based exhibition stand supplier and contractor, 200m2 Exhibitions.

This wide-format Texa Frame wall mounted light box display, incorporating black and white images, was created by Applelec for First Direct Arena

200m2’s three products, X-10 Cross Wire, X-15 Expo Wire, and the foldable X-20 Truss Wire, are based on trussing/gantry systems that can fit into any space. All three systems are lightweight, durable, fully weatherproof, and require no tools for assembly.

“They are easy to transport and store, but most importantly, easy to assemble,” says Cronin, adding: “The lengths of trussing simply lock together, so that you can build the frame to whatever size suits you, from small display panels to large complex structures over two floors. Once the frame is built, add your high quality printed fabric banners to the frame.”

In addition, for protection and easy transportation, 200m2 offers the F-10 Flight Case, available as ready-to-use units or self-assembly kits.

New ways to display

Tom Sebastiano of The Marketing Works, which offers a full exhibition stand design and build service, turns the spotlight onto the graphic element of stand design and product display.

Sebastiano comments: “Tension Fabric has been around for a long time in the exhibition industry, and although it’s a mainstay, the system continues to improve almost annually. The inherent benefit of using fabric graphics is that you can quickly create custom walls and displays on your stand, without the need to transport big, bulky panels. Even the profile systems are becoming lighter and smaller; our slimmest profile now measures in at just 17mm deep and is incredibly easy to mount onto standard shell schemes.”

Sebastiano points out that most exhibitors want to do more than just have a custom graphic; they want to grab the attention of visitors, creating the opportunity to strike up a conversation.

Sebastiano adds: “We saw the introduction of LED Lightboxes which, similarly to the Tension Fabric System, continue to evolve in terms of their logistical suitability for exhibitions with flat-pack solutions now available. However, the latest innovation that has revolutionised tension fabric and LED lightboxes is the integration of product display with systems such as Magnetik, one of our most innovative display systems.”

The Magnetik display system from The Marketing Works features printed fabric graphics that disguise the brackets, giving the impression of products ‘floating’

Magnetik combines adjustable magnetic shelf clamps, which mount onto vertical tracks that integrate into the display itself, and a printed fabric graphic that cleverly disguises the brackets. This means exhibitors can both save space and storage costs and also provide more context to their displays.

“Providing exhibitors with a new solution that ticks all the boxes of saving space, logistical costs and increasing engagement, Magnetik is truly changing the concept of tension fabric system displays,” asserts Sebastiano.

Keeping an eye firmly on modern electronic technology, Eurostand Display is a major supplier of iPad display holders, with a product range that includes branded floor standing and counter top holders that are highly functional and eye-catching, helping to bring an iPad display to life.

“iPads are an essential interactive marketing tool for businesses, often used on exhibition stands, or in retail, hospitality, and other public environments to help companies attract and engage visitors and customers,” comments Eurostand managing director, Gordon Neile.

Eurostand has recently joined forces with Pro Interactive, one of the UK’s leading tablet software providers, whose state of the art interaction software for iPads and cloud-managed platform is currently used across the UK in a wide range of environments. The software complements Eurostand iPad holders and is ideal for increasing customer interaction and ROI as Pro Interactive can be easily customised to reflect a company’s branding.

There is a vast array of options and those I have highlighted are only scratching the surface of the full gamut of potential solutions. However, I hope this has provided a flavour of what is on offer and given you a point of reference from which to start.

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