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Weightless Wood
While visually appealing, ClosetMaid's storage solutions are made of fiberboard. So to cut down on shipping and drayage costs without sacrificing style, designers substituted the heavy material with lightweight fabric printed to resemble textured wood, which it then used for various architectural accents.
Walk-In Closet
By Claire Walling with photos by Padgett & Co. Inc.
Client: ClosetMaid, a division of Emerson Electric Co., St. Louis
Design/Fabrication: Star Exhibits & Environments, Minneapolis
Size: 40-by-50 feet (20,000 square feet)
Estimated Cost: $343,000
Estimated Cost/
Square Foot:
$172
loset-organization systems are often ugly, utilitarian structures that belong behind closed doors. Even ClosetMaid, a division of Emerson Electric Co., was saddled with that bad rap. Popularly known for its unsightly wire closet shelving, the company wanted to raise awareness of its other, design-centric solutions, and prove that organization systems can be both effective and elegant.

To do so, ClosetMaid decided to bring its products into the spotlight – and into the environments where they are used every day – in its exhibit at the 2013 International Builders' Show. With the aid of Minneapolis-based Star Exhibits & Environments, ClosetMaid helped attendees feel at home in its 40-by-50-foot booth.

ClosetMaid illustrated its products' versatility by allowing home builders to stroll down the exhibit's aisles and get hands on with its offerings displayed via 15 vignettes. The mock-home setups showed builders how its layouts could beautify the organizational areas of rooms such as pantries, mudrooms, bedrooms, garages, and craft rooms. And rather than implement traditional signage techniques to detail product benefits in each space, key messaging was incorporated onto props within each vignette. For instance, a storage box within a bedroom read, "Elevate the system off the floor for an easy floor refresh." Overhead, a 15-by-22-foot screen displayed images of ClosetMaid's organizational solutions installed in real-life settings.

Much like its closet designs, the form of ClosetMaid's exhibit also served a function. The booth featured five touchscreen monitors, varying in size from 23 to 42 inches, providing visitors with instant access to product specs. Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology incorporated into attendees' badges served a similar purpose, but also allowed builders to download product information and drove traffic to the company's website.

By bringing its storage solutions home, ClosetMaid altered perceptions through an exhibit that was as well-designed as its closet-organization systems.

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