For exhibit and event professionals  

How Fabric Can Weave Its Way Into Your Exhibit

November 1, 2011 By Editor

The lightweight material that’s heavy on impact
by Christopher Fordham, Senior Account Executive, Moss Inc.

On today’s show floor, we’re seeing more fabric than ever before. Fabric is being used in more ways and in more applications than it ever has. Now that fabric is printed with incredibly high-res graphics, the result is fantastic designs that look beautiful on the show floor and generate interest and traffic into those booth spaces.

In fact, fabric is becoming the go-to solution for exhibit designers. Besides the design possibilities it opens up, fabric is one of the most affordable display solutions on the trade show floor!

Incorporating fabric into your next booth

Let’s look at the fun stuff — designing with tension fabric: Here are six ways you can ask your exhibit builder to incorporate fabric into your next exhibit.

1) Overhead identifiers: This is where fabric got its start — tensioned fabric is practically the norm for hanging signage and is available in a wide variety of shapes and sizes. Ways to add interest: lighting, rotation, size and shape.

2) Fabric graphics: Fabric is also an ideal material for graphics anywhere in a booth — on back walls and kiosks, over product displays, and on floor standing banner stands.

3) Walls and space definition: Tension fabric can be used overhead, with fabric panels around entire booth perimeter, some front-lit; others rear-lit as light boxes. In this way, you can define your space — an especially important consideration if there’s only one way into the booth and it requires getting past a highly policed reception area!!!

4) Ceilings: Fabric is also a wonderful material for ceilings. For example, it can be used to visually drop the ceiling height to create an intimate space or to add dimension to a large space. But remember, in the show rules, there may be fire regulations for covering ceilings. Your builder should know about these.

5) Projection surfaces: Fabric is an ideal surface for projection — both dynamic color and video. For instance, projection-type fabrics can be sewn into a display for sharp, crisp projection.

6) Conference rooms: Fabric walls can even be used to create intimate meeting spaces or secure storage areas. With fabric and extrusion wall systems, accessories such as locking doors can be added.

Fabric trends

Floor supported: In the beginning, tension fabric structures were always thought of as nice, organic shapes that flew overhead. However, now we’re seeing a change in the way people think about and use fabric. Often, you can’t even tell the difference between fabric structures and those made out of wood and laminate. Besides the cost savings you realize with a lightweight fabric solution, there are design advantages requiring fewer seams than laminates and utilizing the high-res printing available on fabric for graphics or interesting textures.

SEG graphics: Silicone edge graphics are high-resolution, dye-sublimated fabric graphics finished with a thin silicone gasket sewn into the edge that fits into an extrusion. This new technology allows you to cover expansive areas with fabric graphics. The advantages of this system are that the graphics mimic hard panels but without the size limitations of a laminate sheet, the graphics are lightweight, and the frame is minimal, putting all the emphasis on the graphics.

Integration with technology

The combination of fabric with technology can convey more information in a limited space. Plus, an innovative design grabs attendees’ attention and keeps them in your booth. How can you integrate fabric with technology?

One example is EZ Interactive, a 39-inch-by-93-inch fabric wall combined with a monitor and an electronics package including eight sensors and a computer with eight media files, completely contained within an 80-millimeter wall. To select the media you want to see, you merely wave a hand in front of the sensors, which light up briefly behind the fabric, clearly indicating what media was selected. The wall has an intuitive interface and is easy to navigate.

Light boxes, used to backlight signs or graphics, take on a new dimension when fabric takes the place of the traditional duratrans (backlit display print). And with specialty silicone-edged rear-projection fabric fit into a frame, fabric can become a video monitor for live action in the booth.

The uses of fabric are virtually limitless, and more are being discovered every day. Explore its possibilities — and very real cost-savings — the next time you design or redesign your booth. You won’t be disappointed.

Christopher Fordham is a senior account executive at Moss Inc., the company that developed the product segment of tension fabric structures. His experience with fabric began 18 years ago, while working for the company that pioneered digital fabric printing technology. There, he saw some of the first fabric prints and helped develop the market for fabric graphics. During his tenure at Moss, he’s been a part of multiple projects that have defined new uses and applications for frame and fabric.


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