SUPPLEMENT: EXHIBITIONS; Moving away from throw away

In between tailor-made stands and the proven modular systems are bespoke stands with elements designed for re-use. Robert Dwek looks at an increasingly popular option

In between tailor-made stands and the proven modular systems are

bespoke stands with elements designed for re-use. Robert Dwek looks at

an increasingly popular option



Claris, the well-known computer software firm, wanted an exhibition

stand built. Although the company had used one contractor, Timescale,

for this sort of work on previous occasions, it was nervous about who to

commission for the job this time.



The company had recently relaunched itself with both a new image and a

new corporate philosophy. As Tony Hall, marketing director for Claris

Europe explains, it was essential for the exhibition stand ‘to reflect

all this change’.



Claris is at pains to stress that it had no problem with Timescale, it

was simply that the new situation required a new response.



‘We wanted to start again from scratch and get a totally fresh approach

from a design perspective,’ says Hall.



Enter Farnham-based designer 2LK - ‘We already knew about them and their

reputation,’ says Hall - which provided a ‘very different field of

competence’ from Timescale. Work began on the ambitious new Claris

stand.



Hall and Charlotte Moremon, a Claris colleague, began briefing 2LK on a

stand which would be ‘very different from the competition and which

would bring a three-dimensional feel to our corporate tag line ‘Simply

Powerful Software’,’ says Hall.



This meant a stand which could reflect the simplicity of the company’s

products - in presentational terms, if not in actual programming - as

well as Claris’s determination to be seen as more friendly and

approachable than the competition.



After all, the company is owned by Apple, the original user-friendly

computer firm.



Another key criterion was the need for reusability. ‘We wanted to cover

an extended number of shows over a period of time and didn’t want to

have to keep changing the design,’ explains Hall.



In addition to exhibitions, the stand needed to be easily adaptable for

press conferences and various other corporate occasions.



A flexible, modular stand design was needed - allowing, for example, for

the different height restrictions of European exhibition halls - but

within a tight budget.



‘Our stands tend not to be that large, we haven’t got the resources of

an ICL, IBM or Microsoft. We needed much more from a smaller space.’



Finally, product demonstrations, the lifeblood of a computer stand, had

to be presented to best effect, particularly since Claris was keen to

show its new database product, FileMaker Pro 3.0, to best effect.



With these prerequisites clearly communicated, Claris gave its new

design team a free hand and encouraged them to think laterally.



‘We told them that we would be prepared to look at any options they

presented to us - so long as they did not give us a standardised

computer company presence.



2LK came up with the goods. The stand, which made its debut at the Paris

IT Forum in February, was dramatically different from the rest of the

competition.



First, instead of the ubiquitous white that has become a standard

feature of computer stands, this played on the Claris corporate colours

of blue, pink and green. It also broke away from the usual angularity

with a clever mix of warm curves, vibrant colours and light-controlling

canopies.



Suspended lighting and backlit logos featured prominently, as did the

Claris product packaging and logo, displayed on 10-foot high vertical

panels. Storage space was kept to a minimum, but was used ‘very

efficiently’.



Product demonstrations were highlighted on two main areas on the stand.

They used back projection rather than overhead projection, which kept

the stand ‘very open and inviting’ and meant that visitors didn’t feel

‘hassled to stop and look’.



There were also a number of smaller booths where Claris’s all-important

partner companies could show their wares. ‘This was quite a complex

requirement,’ notes Hall.



The net effect of all this was a stand that Hall describes as ‘radical

for the computer industry, if not the exhibition industry’.



Hall was chuffed to find competitors congratulating him on the stand and

asking who built it, but reaction from the public was equally

enthusiastic.



‘The stand was just so visible, it could be seen from a long way off. It

achieved exactly what we wanted.’



Hall hopes that the stand will, in one form or another, be used for the

next two years, which would be an unprecedented step for Claris.



With a background in FMCG marketing and a desire to bring this

perspective to Claris’s new stand, Hall believes he got good excellent

value for money - although he won’t reveal any figures.



But he warns others thinking of making the same radical changes that

they must stop looking at cost in terms of materials and more in terms

of time.



‘We looked at a substantial investment in up-front development, a lot of

time was spent thinking in great depth before we did anything.’



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