It’s important to stand out at trade shows. There are so many great companies, designers, and brands with awesome products to show. The competition to grab attention is fierce, and it's especially so at ICFF. This was my first year exhibiting, and I was set on making a great first impression.
My namesake company is intentionally small, and we don't have the same budget for these shows as the large, international furniture and design brands we all know and respect. But that doesn't hold us back from designing and creating a great, attention-grabbing booth in-line with the aesthetic of our work.
When thinking about designing a trade show booth, I usually begin with the wall decal. I wanted to try something new with this space, and had an idea of using simple sheets of paper that I would fold, layer, and attach individually to the back wall. The sum of all of these individual parts would be an intriguing-yet-subtle backdrop I thought would complement my pieces nicely.
I experimented on a small scale back in my Chicago studio and loved the results. The paper waves created a sense of texture and dimension, yet were clean, minimal, and visually pleasing. I was happy with the approach and decided to run with it, as well as trying a new approach to wall decals, printing them to the centimeter for the space.
After cramming for 24 straight hours to get everything ready, we packed everything up and shipped it off two weeks before the show and took a huge breath of relief.
Trade shows always present surprises, and after arriving it didn't take long for them to start popping up. After checking in we learned we had been upgraded to a space that was twice the size of what we had booked. We thought, Yay! That’s amazing! ...right?? Then we realized we only shipped pieces for a space the original size, and all the precision we had used on the wall decals would be thrown out the window.
Unexpected things happen on every custom project, though, and they always present an opportunity. After brainstorming for a few hours, we realized we could fold the paper backdrop in a new way to make our supplies stretch to the new backdrop's size. We even figured out a way to make the process of cutting and placing them more efficient. Deconstructing the original decals into smaller pieces allowed us to line up talking points with pieces they were associated with. All in all we were happy with what we came up with:
After 200+ hand folded paper waves and 100+ hours of prep, the ICFF Miami booth was complete!
Unfortunately Hurricane Matthew trumped all of the unexpected events, and forced an early close to the event. That's peanuts compared to the devastation it caused in Haiti and southeastern United States, and gave us yet another reason to be thankful for all we had and how lucky we were. Others weren't as lucky - If you're interested in helping, please consider a donation to The American Red Cross and it's disaster relief efforts.
Although we only had one day to enjoy the space in all its paper-wave glory, we did just that. More importantly we brought my work to a broader, influential audience, and met wonderful people behind so many brands we know and love. We'll see you again soon, ICFF!