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small exhibits
You Can Have It Small
Small exhibits have gotten a bad rap for being cluttered, uninspired, and about as exciting as the keynote at a Tupperware convention. And unfortunately, that reputation is well deserved in many cases. Stroll the aisles of just about any trade show, and you'll undoubtedly happen upon 10-by-10- and 10-by-20-foot exhibits that are jammed to the hilt with products and ancillary elements – and whose wordy graphics look more like a page from an instruction manual than a billboard-style messaging medium. As such, many small exhibits rival the U.S. Congress in terms of ineffectiveness. However, this sad state of affairs has nothing to do with a diminutive space. For while 100- and 200-square-foot booths might have their own challenges, they aren't inherently ineffective. Instead, inadequate small exhibits are a product of designers and exhibit managers who wouldn't (or couldn't) trade traditional and tedious for interesting and unexpected. So to spur the imagination of those willing to trade up, EXHIBITOR offers this collection of 12 small exhibits that not only made our writers take notice, but also made them take pictures. Offering everything from inventive materials and ingenious product displays to striking colors and crystal-clear messaging, these small but mighty exhibits prove that creativity, ingenuity, and thoughtful design can usually beat a bad rap.


Citrus Sensation
Nothing says "Florida" like a fresh, juicy orange. So to communicate that it's conveniently headquartered in Orlando, FL, DesignShop Inc. created a delicious, orange-themed exhibit at the Healthcare Convention & Exhibitors Association Annual Meeting (HCEA). The focal point of the company's 10-by-20-foot booth is a grid-like structure featuring real oranges. Comprising roughly half of the back wall, the grid offers square openings into which staffers inserted the large, colorful citrus. To complement the citrus concept, the company chose a plush, white carpet with circular orange inlays. The attention-getting tactic helped the exhibit, event, and display-services firm open conversations with curious attendees and communicated the location of its headquarters in a single, sweet glance.


Organization Station
When it comes to small exhibits, one old proverb always rings true: A place for everything, and everything in its place. One exhibit that takes that motto to heart is the Moo Inc. booth at the PDN PhotoPlus International Conference + Expo. The designer and printer of custom greeting and business cards wanted to show PhotoPlus attendees myriad samples of its printing and design capabilities. But rather than blanketing the 10-by-20-foot exhibit with endless piles of paper, designers created a one-off grid-like back wall. While the top half offers the company's URL, a "Welcome to PhotoPlus" message, and a rainbow of colors to catch the eye, the bottom portion houses 45 storage containers full of products. Five waist-high desks evenly spaced throughout the exhibit provide additional storage and give salespeople a place to talk shop.


Talking Point
Think you don't have room for a lounge in your 10-by-10 space? Think again. This compact production from Hamilton Exhibits LLC proves that practically nothing is off limits in a small space. Devoted to sit-down conversations at EXHIBITOR Show, the exhibit features four white lounge chairs and a contemporary metal coffee table atop a wooden floor. The ensemble is surrounded by a wooden, three-walled structure that forms the backbone of the space. Positioned under an eye-catching Hamilton logo, a second back wall assembly houses three monitors showing looping videos of the exhibitor's work, and features Hamilton's "Experience Shows" tagline. Internally lit cutouts in the side walls highlight strips of green grass, which add a natural ambiance to an otherwise cool, yet comfy, space.


Theater in the Round
Launched at EXHIBITOR2013, this striking 10-by-10 display for Chritto International AG offers an almost theatrical effect. A circular, internally lit reception desk anchors the exhibit and draws the eye toward the glowing red structure at the back, which transforms from a back-wall element to an overhead arch. Behind the arch, a row of circular lights create shadows and definition on a faux-stone wall. The wall features beige colors, straight lines, and rough textures that provide an interesting contrast against the rest of the booth's bright colors, sweeping curves, and smooth surfaces.


Posh-atively Fabulous
To showcase its line of Modern Posh greeting cards at the National Stationery Show (NSS), Vanilla Print Inc. created a luxurious little 10-by-10-foot exhibit featuring a black-and-white color scheme. Quaint elements, including framed booth-number placards adorning the side walls and a black chandelier suspended overhead, are scattered throughout to highlight the firm's artistic flair. While a white desk with curvaceous legs takes center stage atop a black floor, a back wall covered in black-and-white damask wallpaper serves as a backdrop for framed product samples.


On-Brand Stand
With a name like Rustico Leather, a sleek and shiny exhibit just won't do. That's why for the Promotional Products Association International Expo, Rustico opted for this, well, rustic exhibit. Positioned diagonally across the back of a 10-by-10 space, a curved black wall with attached light fixtures supports three graphics panels that clearly announce the company's name and its offerings. Attendees' eyes, however, are quickly drawn to the 20 unfinished-wood crates resting on the black carpet. Inside and on top of the crates, then, Rustico displays numerous samples of its leather-bound journals and handbags.


Rock on, Neon!
Bold, vibrant colors, spot-on graphics, and flawless product placement make this exhibit from Dempsey Press Inc. a surefire success. Capitalizing on its corner location at NSS, Dempsey Press erected a back wall and one side wall to make the exhibit visible from two separate aisles. Paired with an eye-popping neon-green hue, black graphics identify the exhibitor and its booth-space number. Meanwhile, Ikea shelving and display cases offer a clutter-free environment to house the letterpress product samples and exhibit necessities such as business cards, wastebaskets, and even coffee mugs.


Neat and Sweet
How do you display a plethora of product in a 10-by-10 space and still maintain an uncluttered aesthetic? You start with a lesson from Beehive Kitchenware Co. The firm, which crafts everything from bowls to baby cups, displayed its offerings in a pint-sized space at NSS. While its side and back walls suggest a quaint, country kitchen, the back-wall image, can't-miss logo, and minimal display table provide an upscale edge befitting the brand.


Real Simple
It seems that the folks at experiential-marketing firm Impact Unlimited Inc. must have taken a lesson from Tim Gunn, the "Project Runway" mentor that always urges his fashion-designer wannabes to "Edit, edit, edit!" That's because this utterly simple yet beautiful design at HCEA has been edited to its core – a process that created a stop-them-in-their-tracks exhibit with a single yet powerful brand message.


Carpet Diem
When you're selling stunning, handmade carpets, the product rather than the exhibitry, should take center stage. Spotted at the International Contemporary Furniture Fair, this 10-by-20-foot exhibit for Christina Ruhaak Design delivers. To offer a backdrop for her heirloom-quality creations, the textile designer opted for a simple white-laminate back wall bearing the Ruhaak logo. And aside from contemporary stools and a glass table positioned along the front corner of the space, every inch of booth screams "captivating carpets."


Tastefully Done
It's not easy to visually transport attendees into a whole new environment when you've only got a 10-by-20-foot space. But at HCEA, Crepes a Latte Catering made that process look like a cakewalk. To communicate its offerings, it turned its space into a contemporary kitchen. But rather than use actual cupboards and appliances, it devised an ingenious graphics panel so precise that the exhibit looked like a real kitchen.


Straightforward Sophistication
Part art gallery, part product display, this exhibit for The Phillips Collection is perfectly at home in an art museum and at the Boutique Design show. The all-white exhibitry for the home-furnishings and accessories provider features a raised wooden floor and towering walls. Aside from an elevated product-display platform at the back of the space, literally everything else in the booth is the exhibitor's product.
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