Many smartphones seem as alike as McDonald's franchises. So to set its YotaPhone — which brags a screen on its front and back sides — apart from the crowd at the 2014 Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain, Yota Devices Ltd. joined with design firm External Reference Architects to dial up an exhibit that would stand out from rivals like Captain Kirk's communicator would Alexander Graham Bell's hand-cranked telephone.
According to designer Carmelo Zappulla, the 690-square-foot, $200,000 booth was inspired by complex systems in nature, such as Mexico's surreal Cave of the Crystals. Indeed, from the ceiling element made of Plexiglas and medium-density fiberboard (MDF), 200 polycarbonate tubes hung like the famed cave's giant crystals. The tubes shimmered as LED strips inside 100 of them gleamed through a cycle of blue and crimson hues.
An MDF wall painted to resemble a polished slab of pumice stretched nearly 42 feet around three sides of the booth. Like volcanic rock, the wall was punctured with thousands of holes 1.2 to 2 inches deep. Visitors stepping into the booth found themselves on an acrylic floor as black and shiny as obsidian. Extending around guests was a white interior of undulating MDF panels,
precisely sliced and positioned to create a futuristic cocoon. Set into the wall were two dozen capsules containing YotaPhones and other company products as if they were diamonds in a Tiffany setting. Black pod-like stools and tall ovular pedestals echoed the walls' design.
Yota's exhibit won this year's EDGE Award for Exhibit Design and Graphics Excellence. "This amazing exhibit is unlike anything we've ever seen," one judge said. "The design is captivating, the experience is transformative, and the structure is the epitome of buzz worthy." E
The Call of the Wild
Inspired by natural wonders, Yota Devices Ltd.'s exhibit evoked lambent moonscapes and volcanic rock. Exterior walls resembled rock faces smoothed and sculpted by time, while polycarbonate tubes overhead cast a corona of light on a glossy acrylic floor black as pitch. Inside the booth space, a rib cage of white panels — punctuated by projected images and embedded product displays — enveloped visitors in otherworldly ambiance.