Magazine article Marketing

Standing at the Crossroads

Magazine article Marketing

Standing at the Crossroads

Article excerpt

The hardest choice when commissioning a stand is whether to go to a designer or a contractor, writes Robert Dwek

You want an exhibition stand built, but do you go to a contractor - the 'builder' - or a designer - 'the architect'?

Unsurprisingly, contractors dispute this differentiation. Mike Littlechild, design director at 2LK - creators of a radical new stand for software firm Claris (see pages xiv-xv) - sees clear water between his company and a contractor. "We are design-led", he says. "We're not influenced by construction methods, we don't have a hungry workshop to feed and we have a better understanding of our clients' markets and objectives."

Designers offer more flair and creativity and are "self-policing", he says, in that they rely more on their creative reputation and have a keener interest in maintaining their high standards. "We take a more strategic approach and try to become an integral part of the client's marketing communications team. We're independent and international and very flexible in choosing which suppliers we work with."

Park Avenue, a design company whose clients include BMW, Opel and TSB, takes an even snobbier approach. "If you want your stand to communicate, you should go to a communications company," asserts co-chairman Derek Tuke-Hastings. "If you want a stand to come within predetermined ideas and a predetermined budget, go to a contractor."

He gives a recent piece of work Park Avenue did for German steel titan Thyssen as an example of the importance of designers. Thyssen is trying to break into the German telecoms market and wanted to attend the influential Cebit telecoms exhibition in Hanover. Tuke-Hastings says the stand had to reflect Thyssen's existing steel business. It had to convey the company's pedigree and reflect its sense of responsibility, rather than making it look as if it was chasing a quick buck in strange new territory.

Another much-praised Park Avenue creation, a motor show stand for BMW, is to have its own permanent installation, probably in Germany. This is a mark, says Tuke-Hastings, of the strategic vision his company brings to stand design. "We're about communicating brands and moving businesses forward, we're dealing with intangibles, new positionings."

He is not, of course, saying that all contractors are no good. Far from it. "They are very good at getting companies in front of their customers and communicating product," he admits. It's just that the middle ground has been squeezed - there's cheap and cheerful or expensive and visionary, adds Tuke-Hastings.

Andrew Davies, a director of Davies Virgo & Associates, another designer,. chooses less provocative words to describe the difference. "It would be wrong to see any great tension between the two types of stand designers," he says, "because in most cases we need each other." That said, however, he sees a trend towards more design-led outfits, driven by more discerning clients who aren't so bothered about working to a tight budget.

Davies, like his industry colleagues, also talks about designers working much more closely with their clients than would a contractor.

"We can almost be seconded to the exhibitor - we take over their manual, their paperwork, their administration, we take the load off them. If you want your hand held all the way through the process, we'll do it. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.