Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Fabric in Exhibits

I've been using fabric for a long time for architecture since I started my career as a scenic designer. We used it for the same reasons then as many exhibit designers use it now. Economy, graphic presentation, ease of touring, ease of storage, and generaly covering a lot of space with a minimum of structure. But in theater it really was all about what it looked like and for many exhibits that has been the approach. But many designers (and clients) are discovering that exhibits need to create a sensory environment that communicates on so many levels. Materials must be chosen for acoustic, tactile, and aesthetic (how they make the place feel) as well as visual appeal.
It's something I think a lot about in my new position as a Creative Director for Dazian Fabrics. They are the experts in flame resistant fabric, fabrication, rentals, printing, and lighting. Like me they started in the theater but they started 167 years ago and like me they have grown to serve a variety of markets. I'll be working on business development and also product development.
One of the big challenges I remember facing me in using fabric in exhibits in the 21st century is rendering fabric in 3D Max. The drape, the translucency, the texture, every bit was hard to get that program to deal with. I've heard the same from many designers and so I'm committed to finding solutions for rendering our fabrics and making that available to you designers. You shouldn't have to be afraid to use fabrics because they are hard to render.
If you can help me please leave a comment. If I'm able to help you with models and textures I'll just ask that you specify Dazian fabrics in your designs. Is that a good deal? leave a comment and let me know.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Sidewalk Art Performance at the Greenman Festival

Award winning scenic designer moi (www.hilaryhowes.net) will be making a scene on the pavement of the Roosevelt Center Greenbelt MD, live and in person, as part of the Greenman Festival Saturday May 9th and Sunday May 10th. I'll be creating a chalk drawing with an environmental theme during the festival that will disappear at the first rain. I will also host a community sidewalk mural area that you or your kids can add your environmental art to with chalk rental of $1 for 5 minutes. Donations for Hilary's art performance are gratefully accepted and 10% of the proceeds go to CHesapeake Education, Arts and Research Society. Bring your cameras and creativity! Follow the highlights at http://twitter.com/HilarybyDesign

Hilary Howes, CMG

Monday, April 27, 2009

Acer & Packard Bell Product Launch

Transformit is proud to be part of this set up time-lapse. see the Ice Needles on stage and the Riffs curving along the side of the hall. In Amsterdam.

from Evan Mills, International Director - Transformit

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Exhibitor Show 2009 - What's New?

Exhibitor show was much better attended by exhibitors and attendees than anybody expected. This is where so many of us 'show folk' get together and share our collective wisdom on the current state of our industry. It is no news that business is down but in the folks who came there was a collective sense that you cannot count this industry as out. Everybody I talked to was knuckling down and being a better business person, watching income and expense closely and planing for the day it turns around.
We are the industry that will be leading a turnaround because putting people back to work means selling stuff and face to face marketing is still the most efficient way to close a sale. Check out the recent white paper by George P Johnson . I believe we have to take the responsibility to make sure our clients get to the show even if it means a smaller sale for us now. Do a rental or recycle last years booth but make sure they go.

Exhibit slide show

A number of exhibit companies went with the strategies above so for design junkies like me there was not a lot of excitement or trend to comment on. Other than the trend of 'less-is-more' or 'looks-like-last-year" I need to comment on the increasing use of fabric and system architecture in an industry that is well known for keeping a lot of table saws busy. It's almost like we are turning European with many booths with a place to sit with clients and have an espresso. The 'Salons' were off show floor hospitality meeting rooms that allowed for deepening relationships and showing a broader array of products than a booth can. It's only the lack of any hi-concept exhibits that made it very clear that you are not at Euroshop yet. We did have a German Pavilion (which was recycled from TS2) that had one of my favorite products from Euroshop 2005 - Penta-Loop
Outstanding Exhibits included Creatacor, Expotechnik, and Octanorm/Abex-Solar. I don't know if Creatacor was a rerun but it really had movement and flow that used the tension fabric in a way that contrasted well with other structural elements. Expotechnik combined fabric and system in a well organized yet open space with lots of visual impact. Octanorm showed off their extrusion in a design from the Abex new solar line. It creates a system structure that uses layers and structure to embrace a modernist style seldom seen on American show floors. I'll admit to being a Dwell and Metropolis subscriber so I may be far from unbiased. But as trends go I would love to see more exhibits go down this road for it's beauty, efficiency and impact.
Maybe it is because I am a creative director for a tension fabric company that I was actually disappointed by what looked to be the overuse of fabric as walls. Like large format graphics which became so ubiquitous a few years ago that it is now cut back in favor of a clean white space. Fabric stretched over a flat frame is starting to remind me of the canvas and wood frame 'flats' of my early set design days. It's efficient but unless you can give it a reason to be, why even have a wall? I hope our industry will use fabric in contrast to other elements so we can appreciate it and not do it to death.
But what did you think?

Friday, February 20, 2009

EMI Event Dialog online on Modular

Modular Exhibit Systems: More Than Just an Instant Solution
Jeff Lake - Hamilton Exhibits
Daniel Tu - Tu Design
Rory J Thompson - Moderator

There was discussion about how modular exhibits were introduced to the american market as a low cost alternative to a custom booth and design was compromised by trying to do a 'knock off' of a custom booth. Now designs if they start with the idea of developing a design based on the system to be scaleable and efficient. 

Now many modular exhibits combine the use of fabric to soften the hard lines of the posts and beams of a modular or system architecture structure.

Rentals of these systems make them even more attractive today with the economy and concerns about sustainability.

There are a lot more options in terms of extrusion and panel and fabric that allows today's design escape for the boxiness of the early extrusion.
If you listened in to day to the webinar please feel free to comment. 

Reviewed by the Event Design Diva

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Combining Tools: Advice for Making the Most of Lighting + Fabric

Exhibit Design spotlight offers this article on the web:
Combining Tools: Advice for Making the Most of Lighting + Fabric

It's relatively good advice as far as it goes. I have been a lighting designer and exhibit designer and now a creative director of the premier source for tension fabric structures I am critically aware of the interplay between the two. We regularly set-up prototypes and previews to see just how new fabrics and lighting instruments work together in structures. I'm always happy to lend my advice to projects that clients bring to us at a concept stage as well.

The only gaffe I spotted, which should be forgiven since he is a lighting designer not a fabric builder, is 'spandex remains a popular material'. While I am aware that many people use this term of the myriad of knit fabrics we use, spandex is a fiber. Trapeze Plus or Eco-Trapeze are common materials in event design and I think that designers should always look to their TFS suppliers for advice on the best current material to achieve their goals on a specific project.
I'm sure all you CGI joes will pardon my geekdom on this point.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Design Intelligence for 2009

Color and design choices must always first serve the 'story' of an interior, exhibit or event. But they must also relate to the environment and the climate of the society that will ultimately accept or reject it. With that in mind Hilary Howes, CMG tracks color trend as a window into the social climate that determines the success of designs she consults on. As a Creative Director for Transformit attends exhibitions, design seminars and serves as a chair holder in the Color Marketing Group. The Color Marketing Group has hundreds of members that meet regularly to share design intelligence to make and confirm color forecasts years in advance.

Hilary says "For 2009 the biggest story is the economy (of course) but also a maturing of the sustainability movement.' What do those mean for color and design trends?

"Faced with an uncertain economy people look to the safety and certainty of Black and White. Shades of gray are also reassuring and we are seeing them maintain strict neutrality this year. Comforting, classic and honest the clean designs of black, white and grey often have an accent color to push this theme one way or another.' Hilary explains.

She continues 'The maturing environmental movement is looking past green to the yellows of sunshine and the blues of pure water as the most important colors in the new year. The sunny yellow that is popular this year is also a very cheery color to optimistically lift the spirits of people in a down economy. Likewise blues that will predominate this year are not somber navy blue but upbeat and energized bold blue and sky blue. So while the growing awareness that clean water and sky direct the choice of color the underlying optimism of people who have made a milestone change in their politics directs the brilliance and intensity of the color"

How did we get here and where are we going? "This is all a dramatic shift from the greens of every shade we saw in 2008 when the 'green' movement and the war is all people talked about. The optimism of the current blue-sky palette makes a good transition to the magical colors we will be seeing in 2010" Hilary says with a knowing wink.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Inauguration morning on the Mall

Wake at 3am Celestine drops us 3 blocks from the Greenbelt metro. We
walked right on to a train and had seats all the way in. The flow of
the crowd brought us to this jumbotron next to the Hirshorn. We can
see the capital but without the screen we will never know what is
The job now is to stay warm. People around me are: singing, reading,
bundleing and even playing twister.
An energiesed and expectant crowd.

Friday, January 9, 2009

2008 in Pictures

In 2008 Hilary Howes went to EuroShop, Global Shop, Color Marketing Group, Exhibitor, American Association of Museums, Health Care Exhibitors Association, American Institute of Architects, Association of Science and Technology Centers and the International Association of Amusment Parks. Here are her top pix from 2008 a little personal and lot about exhibits and tension fabric. 2008 in pictures