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Industrial Design for Events – What’s Old is New Again

Industrial Design for Events – Whats Old is New Again


Design trends come and go. Some stay and become timeless classics – others become nostalgic talking points where we all try to point the finger at the culprit who came up with idea (the mullet, anyone?)

Architectural design trends tend to be based on the state of the world at the time they are created – living in Sheffield [England], I see lots of post-war concrete tower blocks that were created for quick, cheap housing after the war, for example. Today, post economic meltdown, we have a new appreciation for fix, replace and reuse. Old barns are becoming homes and shops, old factories are being transformed and repurposed into apartments, reclaimed railway sleepers make great shelves, and so on. These specific examples are what we refer to as “Industrial Design” or “Industrial Chic”.

How can you use industrial design in events?

Current design trends are getting much faster at permeating events. Equally, exhibition and event visitors want to see cool and trendy designs on the stands they visit. So, as an exhibitor, how can you add some industrial design to your stand or booth?

For a start, let’s look at the basic elements of industrial design. Exposed structural elements make up the bulk of the look – the most striking features are exposed girders, brickwork and wooden frames. You also have natural wood floors and reclaimed wood (like old doors, workstations and shelves), plus old railway/coach style copper hanging lamps and accent features like ornamental gears.

Below are a couple of examples of how you can integrate the style. It doesn’t matter if you have a space only or a fully-designed booth, this style is very easy to scale up or down to get the look you want.

2015 EcoBuild and Jupiter

But what if you’re organising an event?

There’s nothing stopping you choosing an alternative event venue. Just take a look at Digbeth Dining Club; every weekend a group of independent food trailers offer a trendy eating experience right in the middle of Birmingham’s Victorian industrial district. They don’t actually hire out the inside of a venue, instead using the surrounding buildings to create the industrial setting.

And there’s equal opportunity in traditional event venues too. The Roundhouse and Olympia London have a Victorian industrial feel, and feature areas can be styled to achieve the look as well. Check out this example we built at Ecobuild:

2015 EcoBuild

As you can see, what’s old is new again. How will you incorporate the Industrial Design trend into your next event? If you need some fresh ideas, download the new GES Trend Tracker guide.

Trend Tracker