Whether you’re managing design and fabrication in-house from soup to nuts or farming out the whole shebang to the hipsters with the designer glasses cutting costs ultimately comes down to you. What to do to stay current in the eyes of a discriminating public when funds are running low? Before you send your design budget to the chopping block consider these top trends and economical tips.
In a time of economic instability consumers are searching out what’s real authentic and socially responsible. “Honesty’s been a big thing as far as mega trends ” says Jack Bredenfoerder color expert and design director at branding agency Landor Associates. “It’s about doing something luxurious and clever in a new way by taking something and reinventing it into something else. I think we’re going to see a lot of that of making do and creating something unique out of something that may be really common.”
Rethink Traditional Elements. New York City-based event designer David Stark transforms reusable recyclable and in some cases deeply relevant materials into show-stopping design statements. Stark used donated XO-1 Quanta laptops with rotating images of floral arrangements as centerpieces at a 2008 Robin Hood Foundation event (the foundation raises funds to fight poverty in New York City). In addition to eliminating the waste associated with live floral centerpieces the laptops saved electricity costs too. They use just a few watts of power compared to the 10 to 45 watts used by conventional laptops.
Salvage With Style. For a Robin Hood Foundation’s gala event at New York City’s cavernous Javits Center Stark transformed all of the items donated by corporate sponsors like Nike and Staples into sculptural pieces that could be easily disassembled after the event and redistributed in perfect condition. Visually exciting installations included a two-story chair made out of water bottles a house constructed out of towels and a tornado-shaped sculpture made entirely out of 6 000 pairs of sneakers.
Use Unconventional Materials. At a National Design Awards event at the Cooper-Hewitt Museum Stark turned 6 000 tons of shredded office paper into beautiful white topiaries. At the Sundance Institute 25th Anniversary Celebration old maps were repurposed to create birds leaves and other wildlife-themed visuals that mapped back to the event’s theme.
First Lady Michelle Obama’s Inauguration dress said it all: yellow is the color of the season. When it comes to mixing booth or show elements with mellow yellow (or any color of the moment) consider the options: leverage the color for maximum effect integrate it sparingly or use it one day and ditch it the next. “Yellow is one of the hot colors ” says Bredenfoerder. “But just because it’s a trend doesn’t mean it’s right for you.”
Bring In An Expert. New York City’s Gap pop-up shop got a splash of color in January when it launched its partnership with the world’s leading color authority Pantone. The temporary shop sold t-shirts in a full range of Pantone colors including a vibrant yellow hue called Mimosa—Pantone’s pick for the 2009 color of the year. The brand decorated the pop-up’s plain white walls with oversized Pantone color chips an inexpensive way to bring the partnership to life. “By hanging t-shirts in front of Pantone chips it was just a really simple and fun way to show the breadth of colors that we’re offering for spring ” says Kim Terry engagement marketing and p.r. at Gap. “Customers know we have t-shirts in a lot of different colors but I think this partnership with Pantone drives that point home.”
Mix It Up. Bredenfoerder suggests thinking about color trends as accent pieces. “If you wore it you wouldn’t wear it head to toe ” he says. “You’d balance it or use it to pop.” Add pop to your event space with furnishings that have multiple color options. That way you can embrace trends your corporate personality and your budget all at the same time. For example rent a chair or sofa with two different covers. Just throw on the second color to go from business during the day to a trendy lounge effect at night. Furniture design and rental agency Lounge 22 offers a line of illuminated chairs and sofas that can go from yellow to blue to green all at the same event.
Go Neutral. With lighting components such as LED curtains and flooring theatrical lighting spots gobos and video projection techniques any plain white space can become a color-rich immersive environment. As a bonus neutral tradeshow and event properties can go au courant with color one week and then make the rounds to different shows with different looks the next all without costly graphics and fabrication changes. “We have seen quite a few exhibits that have been constructed for different shows by designers looking for a different look and feel for each one ” says Jeff Rudner president of West Hills CA-based Exhibit Lighting Group. “We’re saving quite a bit of money for those exhibits by simply changing the lighting.”