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Soft Cell
Deutsche Telekom AG's booth centered on a 20-foot-tall, lime-green "tree" topped by a halo of rectangular leaves. Beneath cloud-like white acrylic words, benches and bleachers with pink and black cushions supplied comfortable seating for visitors.
Upwardly Mobile
By Charles Pappas with photos
by Deutsche Telekom AG
Client: Deutsche Telekom AG, Bonn, Germany
Design/Fabrication: Mutabor Design GmbH, Hamburg, Germany
Size: 66-by-66 feet (5,432 square feet, including second-story space)
Estimated Cost: $471,000
Estimated Cost/Square Foot: $87
xhibits for telecommunication companies are often as hard to tell apart as providers' rate plans. So for the 2014 Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain, Deutsche Telekom AG wanted an exhibit design for its T-Mobile brand to mirror the company's maverick status in a sometimes-staid industry – and to help it stand out on the show floor like a pearl amid a sea of pebbles.

Visitors entering the roughly 66-by-66-foot booth via its three open sides might have mistakenly thought they had wandered into Alice's Wonderland rather than a telecom firm's exhibit. Towering over the booth was the Dandelion, a 20-foot-tall stylized tree comprising medium-density fiberboard (MDF) with a trunk the color of lime jello. Topping the curved structure were 70 acrylic Foscarini light fixtures like a spray of leaves from a world where nature thought only in rectangles and squares.

A series of five words made of snow-white acrylic, such as "Play," "Share," and "Relax," hung from a truss. Beneath these airborne expressions were wooden tables dispersed around six product clusters, such as Network Innovations, Payment, Terminals, and more. The tables' green legs were surrounded by flamingo-pink seatbelt-like strips that formed an eye-catching, web-like look. If attendees didn't want to talk shop at the tables, they could relax instead on the stadium-style bleachers whose seating pads came in pink and black.

Later, staffers and guests ascended into the exhibit's nearly 1,076-square-foot upper-deck meeting space. Running across the second-story balcony was fencing made of the same bright-pink strips sported by the tables below. Here, among three meeting rooms, staff discussed business with interested booth visitors.

Deutsche Telekom's exhibit charmed and captivated attendees with an eccentric design that stood out among competitors' comparably traditional stands – and set the company as far apart from its rivals as a smartphone is from tin cans and string.

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