As visitors return to in-person events in the next year, companies and organizations are seizing the opportunity to attract and engage with bold, customer-centric exhibition designs. From the continued success of the Van Gogh: The Immersive Experience exhibition to trade show booths with areas to test power tools, brands are eager to have face-to-face interactions again. For companies striving to make a comeback in 2022 through an experiential activation, innovations in exhibition design and fabrication make it possible to create incredible, one-of-a-kind designs.
What is Exhibition Design and Exhibit Fabrication?
Exhibition design and exhibition fabrication are the two components of creating a customized experiential activation for an audience. They can be defined as:
Exhibition design includes the idea or concept, design feasibility, material selection, concept drawings, 3D visualizations, and prototyping. During the process of exhibition design, a brand and an exhibition design and fabrication company often work together from the very start to come up with ideas, develop a strategy, and prototype to create the right design.
Exhibit fabrication picks up where exhibition design stops, and is the engineering and build of the final exhibit. During an exhibition fabrication, the exhibition design and fabrication company will create the elements needed to build the components needed for an installation, such as sculptures, custom furniture, wall art, cabinetry, shelving, and much more. This may include 3D printing or CNC machining the component parts, finishing, integrating lighting, sound, multimedia or interactives. Once complete, the fabrication company will deliver and install the exhibit, managing any necessary logistics.
The Role of an Exhibition Design and Fabrication Company
An experienced exhibition design and fabrication company is not only responsible for building an exhibit, but must also tell a compelling visual story through elements such as signage, lighting, graphics, multimedia, and more. The role of these companies is to work closely with a client to develop a concept and strategy that meets the goals of their experiential activation, then carry it through the various design, build, fabrication, and installation stages. Depending on the company, they may complete all of the stages in-house or outsource parts of the project to third party vendors.
While many exhibition design companies are capable of delivering great work, as are exhibit fabrication vendors, a full-service design and fabrication company will have the expertise and equipment required to take an entire project from start to finish under one roof. This translates into a streamlined workflow that can bring an accelerated timeline, cost-effective design choices, and higher quality results.
Exhibition and Fabrication: The Process
The exhibition design and fabrication process may vary with different companies, depending on their capabilities and the need to outsource to third party vendors. Ideally, a single partner will manage the entire project lifecycle, exercising full control over each of the following stages:
- Planning and Concept: In the first stage of the project, a client works with the studio to develop goals, budget, program development, and project timelines.
- Design: In the design stage, exhibition and fabrication companies explore ways to build the concept in the most efficient, cost-effective way.
- Digital Fabrication: An exhibition design and fabrication company works to translate the design concept into a digital model, to further explore variations and structural considerations before committing to the physical build.
- Fabrication: During the fabrication stage, the physical components of the exhibit are engineered and built, often through methods such as CNC machining or 3D printing.
- Shipping and Installation: This stage covers the logistics and installation of the exhibit, and includes carefully transporting the components to the location and safe and secure installation.
- Close out/Strike: After the exhibit is over, many exhibition and fabrication companies also work with companies on breaking down the exhibit, which may involve storage, disposal, and/or recycling of items.
Another vital part of the project is the ongoing support provided by the studio. With one point of contact to oversee project management across the entire process, permitting, logistics, and other essential details are always accounted for.
Exhibition and Fabrication Company Capabilities
Exhibition and fabrication companies are capable of executing projects as small as a custom chair and as massive as a giant octopus, so the possibilities for an exhibition design are endless. However, as these can be complex projects with many moving parts and logistics, it’s essential to seek a company that can cover everything from material selections, to engineering challenges to safe transport and installation.
Capabilities of full-service exhibition and fabrication companies include:
Collaborating on a concept, using their experience, knowledge of current industry trends, and expertise on materials to guide brands on creating exhibits, trade shows or outdoor booth designs that meet their budget and goals.
Project management and resource allocation, following a tight internal process to ensure that a project runs smoothly, the integrity of the concept and design remain intact, and the budget and timeline stay on track.
Fabricating the elements for an exhibition in-house, using 3D printing, CNC machining, and other production methods to build, finish, and assemble custom components from a wide variety of materials.
Performing the installation of an exhibit, with carefully choreographed shipping and assembly, venue coordination, managing additional support staff, and developing a comprehensive run-of-show schedule.
What Do Exhibition Design and Fabrication Companies Create?
Exhibit design and fabrication companies create immersive environments by implementing a combination of custom signage, wall graphics, multimedia, lighting, audio, and displays. The types of projects that exhibition and fabrication companies specialize in include:
Museum Exhibit Designs
To create an engaging museum exhibit, exhibition design and fabrication companies can employ multimedia, interactives, sculpture, wall graphics, custom display cases, and a host of other elements to tell a story.
Trade Show Exhibit Designs
The goal of many trade show exhibits is to engage prospective clients and generate brand awareness. Through the creation of custom trade show booths and graphics, exhibition and fabrication companies can help companies increase foot traffic at trade shows. Once visitors are engaged, custom furniture, custom product displays, interactive elements, and more can provide the perfect environment for an immersive experience.
Outdoor Exhibition Stall Design
Outdoor exhibition stalls can be used for food stalls, pop-up marketing, music festivals, and more. Regardless of the goal, exhibition and fabrication companies can create custom booths, signs, furniture, and storage to help companies fulfill the goal of their experiential activation.
Exhibition and fabrication companies can help brick-and-mortar retail stores attract new and existing customers through in-person brand experiences. Often, companies use custom lighting, sound, shelves, cabinets, art installations, sculpture, and wall art to design custom physical spaces and themed environments.
Hiring A Full-Service Exhibition Design and Fabrication Company
With the help of an exhibition design and fabrication company, brands can ideate and deploy creative, complex experiential marketing activations. In addition to guiding brands through design development, a full-service company can streamline all of the steps in a project, from budgeting, to planning, building, and installing an exhibit, while anticipating and solving problems at every stage.
To learn how a full-service design and fabrication company can take your next exhibition to the next level, schedule a no-pressure introduction to Bridgewater Studio today. We’ll customize a free project plan, so you’ll be set up for success from the start.