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.