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
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
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
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
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
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
‘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
‘We looked at a substantial investment in up-front development, a lot of
time was spent thinking in great depth before we did anything.’