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design awards

2010 JUDGES (Clockwise from top left)
Jennifer Jerde, founder, Elixir Design, San Francisco Thom Faulders, founder, Faulders Studio, Berkeley, CA Debra Nichols, founder, Debra Nichols Design, San Francisco Clement Mok, designer, instigator, and consultant, CMCD Inc., San Francisco Peter Stathis, founder, Virtual Studio, San Francisco Michael Patrick Cronan, partner, Cronan, Berkeley, CA David Meckel, FAIA, director of research and planning, California College of the Arts, San Francisco
f exhibit design is a weapon, the winners of EXHIBITOR Magazine's 24th Annual Exhibit Design Awards are packing some serious heat. Including everything from an eco-friendly exhibit comprising roughly 1,000 recyclable cardboard tubes, to an exhibit judges called an "immersive, sensorial experience unlike anything we've ever seen on the trade show floor," the 2010 Exhibit Design Award winners displayed a veritable arsenal of aesthetic artillery.

Assembled in a San Francisco hotel in January, seven judges waded through entries from multiple countries, including Israel, Turkey, Australia, Switzerland, and Italy, among others. After eight hours of perusing and persuading, jurors arrived at 14 winners - and established an unconscious preference for immersive experiences, product-centric palettes, and sculptural forms.

For example, the competition's top honor - the EDGE Award (for Exhibit Design and Graphics Excellence) - went to Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. The stunning yet simple 321-by-128-foot booth offered the holy grail of immersive experiences, an optical illusion comprising 144 LED TVs and a mirror-clad wall and ceiling that appeared to double the size of the space.

Meanwhile, the black-and-white color palette found in the exhibits for Eternit AG, Automobili Lamborghini Holding S.p.A, and Herman Miller Inc., among others, allowed colorful products to take center stage. O.C. Tanner Co., however, offered a rainbow-hued palette, focusing instead on the kinetic sculptures scattered throughout its exhibit.

What's more, this year's winners didn't break the bank with their aesthetically awesome designs. Aside from one astounding exhibit with a price tag of $670 per square foot, the 2010 winners averaged a meager $107 per square foot, which is still a far cry from the Exhibit Designers and Producers Association's 2009 average of $163 per square foot for single-tiered island exhibits.

So hat's off to this year's Exhibit Design Award winners. Armed with little more than inventive ideas, they proved that especially in today's market where similarities in price, quality, and technology level the playing field, effective exhibit design can be a key differentiator - and a killer competitive weapon.  E


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