Brands from Lexus to Red Bull are creating exhibits that borrow their look and feel from big-city art galleries. The goal? A sophisticated yet uncomplicated ambience.
Starbucks incorporated the look for one component of a pop-up environment last year in New York City. And Rolex USA activates its title sponsorship of the Monterey Historic Automobile Races in Monterey CA with a gallery-style exhibit that displays vintage cars. (Agency: Sparks Philadelphia).
“It allows us to match the elegance of the cars and the event ” says Colette Bennett national sports marketing manager at Rolex.
Here’s an entry-level primer on building elements into an environment for that gallery vibe.
Low Design Upscale Materials. For its stand at this year’s North American International Auto Show in Detroit General Motors went after a gallery feel with a simple design that really put the focus on the vehicles. “The architecture [was] very very low this year ” says Timothy Peters GM’s assistant director-auto show operations. “It allows the cars to stand out and it makes it very easy to understand the flow of the space.”
High-end materials for displays can also add to the effect. Rolex’s vehicle platforms were trimmed in teakwood and storyboard plaques in front of each vehicle were covered in green leather.
Light Touch. Lighting is the one element that can make or break the gallery look. Go too harsh and the exhibit immediately loses the gallery feel; too soft and it will seem dark and lifeless.
To make sure illumination was just right in Detroit GM hired a professional lighting expert with theater and retail experience to help with the design. In addition to lighting the vehicles he had input on the temperature of the lamps and the color of the paints used in the exhibit. “It allowed us to really pull the chrome out and bring the colors up to show the vehicles in the best light ” Peters says. “It provided a whole different level to how we illuminated the vehicles on the floor.”
Lingering Encouraged. Red Bull created a touring art gallery-style exhibit (via Sparks) to display action-adventure sports photographs that became finalists in a Red Bull Illume photography competition. To keep consumers from feeling rushed the company borrowed an idea from the museum world adding benches as part of the exhibit design.