Left: A Polo exhibit by Tom
Yurkin of Freeman. Center and right: Exhibits for Buick and HP by
“Exhibits are always changing,” says Tom
Yurkin, vice president, creative, at Dallas-based exhibits and
events conglomerate Freeman. “You just have to go along with what's
happening in our culture.”
Named 2005's Designer of the Year by the Atlanta-based Exhibit
Designers and Producers Association, Yurkin gets his inspiration
for booth design from all over. He reads 50 to 60 magazines every
month, paying particular attention to architectural trends and
automotive design, and he visits museums to look for ideas in art
“Exhibits need to do a lot more than they used to,” Yurkin
notes. “They're more complicated and so full of technology.”
Following is a taste of some of the country's top exhibit
designers' latest inspirations.
“Lighting can make or break the booth,” says Costas Varkarotas,
GES' western region exhibit and design manager, based in Las Vegas.
Indeed, changing the color and intensity of light can
affect a viewer's response, emotionally and even physically; best
of all, compared to the exhibit's physical structure, lighting
equipment is a relatively lightweight component.
Recent advances: Lighting within exhibits has
been getting more intense; it's not uncommon to see booths using a
$100,000 projector with 12,000 lumens (nearly as bright as direct
sunlight). Lighting also permits some really fantastic tricks.
Varkarotas has put in holographic screens, rotating plasma screens
and fog walls, created by pouring a curtain of fog from the ceiling
and projecting an image on it.
Really ambitious booths feature LED light boards, in which
individual bulbs are placed just a few millimeters apart on a wall;
the bulbs combine to form a pointillist video image. Why go LED?
Such lighting is far brighter than that of a standard TV or
projector, both of which can easily get washed out with all the
other competing lights, explains Ernie Barna, design director at
H.B. Stubbs, an exhibit design firm in Warren, Mich., with clients
such as General Motors and Hewlett-Packard. “Really, nothing can
compete with LED video walls,” he says.
The walls have other advantages. First, because they are run by
a computer that readily can be reprogrammed, the presentation can
be adjusted up to the last minute, which isn't possible with most
other media. Second, the walls can be painted to look like part of
the architecture until the program launches and the walls are
illuminated. Third, says Tom Yurkin, the technology permits very
theatrical lighting without requiring big, heavy, hot and expensive
Recent advances: LED walls now have better
resolution. A decent wall will have bulbs separated by 10 mm (from
the center of one bulb to the center of the adjacent bulb). The
newest walls have separations as little as 4 mm, says Barna.