An American Designer In Europe


In March, I was fortunate enough to make the trek to Dusseldorf, Germany for one of the most incredible trade shows our industry has to offer, EuroShop.  For those who may not know, EuroShop is the world’s largest trade show for the international retailing industry. It’s one of our industry’s places to be and is truly a barometer for new trends and innovations.  With approximately 2,000 exhibitors and more than 106,000 attendees, EuroShop is historically a huge event, and the 2011 installment did NOT disappoint.

Now, with EuroShop being in… well…..Europe, there were several differences noticed in stand designs (from an American perspective that is). There were the ubiquitous raised floors, an immense emphasis on integrated lighting and heavy use of modular exhibit systems. However, beyond that, there were more subtle, engrained differences.

European booths don’t seem to be nearly as technology-driven as their American counterparts. Instead, they feel more IDEA driven, where emphasis is placed on the creative implementation of the overall idea than just building a structure. The stands at EuroShop were clearly built with a solid partnership between design and engineering; it almost looked like designers helped engineer solutions to build the structures as not to compromise the design integrity. To see the effective and creative use of so many unorthodox materials was very powerful; it made the ordinary truly extraordinary (raw Sonotubes as a wall structure, masking tape as a graphic element, paper as structural elements, bubble wrap as a wall finish, or even simply chalk drawings as exterior graphics).

Obviously American and European booths are going to have their functional differences (carpet vs. raised floor, box frame vs. system components, etc.), but at EuroShop I found one much more fundamental than everything else, the collaboration between engineering and design to help drive a creative theme in a booth design. To this American designer, it’s not only refreshing; it’s the right way to do it!

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