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Exhibiting and the sustainability myth


By Saskia Carrington, Quadrant2Design


According to a recent article in Exhibition World, it remains difficult to show clients that sustainable exhibition stands can be flashy, beautiful, and draw in leads from admiring show-goers.

This may be true for many designers, but at its heart this statement reflects three fundamental misconceptions about sustainable exhibition stands:

  1. They have to be made from cardboard, or better still, organically grown hemp panelling.
  2. They have to be designed by a bearded hipster sipping overpriced skinny lattes.
  3. Sustainable exhibition stands are an expensive one-off gimmick and can’t possibly form the basis of a serious company’s ongoing exhibiting programme.

Perhaps these misconceptions are why so many exhibitors indulge in the shocking waste of resources involved in using build ‘n’ burn exhibition stands.

Build ‘n’ burn stands, more commonly known as ‘custom-builds,’ are exhibition stands built from un-resourceful materials – MDF or ply faced panelling, timber, steel, and acrylics, topped off with a paint or stretched PVC covering.

These exhibition stands are screwed and nailed together at the show build-up, without any prior quality checks or test-runs. This demands hazardous power saws, drills, and sanders being used on site, with all the accompanying noise, dust, and fume pollution.

Even worse is that these expensive build ‘n’ burn creations are generally one use only, and end up in a skip after the show. This leaves the exhibiting company to repeat this wasteful process, again and again, at future shows and events.

Of course this wasteful exhibiting directly contradicts the environmental policies of many of the companies who commission build ‘n’ burn exhibition stands.

Whilst some enlightened marketing managers do seek alternative exhibiting solutions, they unwittingly fall for one of the biggest tricks in the industry. So many of the modular exhibition solutions which claim to be an alternative to ‘build ‘n’ burn’ are in reality little more than glorified display systems.

The companies who market these glorified display systems are not really exhibition companies, but rather ‘jack of all trades’ who are more comfortable selling you a pavement sign than a proper exhibition stand.

However, there are a small band of exhibition providers whose business models centre on providing stands with the look and feel of custom-builds, but additionally the core sustainability that a modular and reusable stand building system brings to an exhibiting programme.

“Quadrant2Design is one of this select group of exhibition stand design and build providers who adhere to a truly sustainable model.”

Quadrant2Design is one of this select group of exhibition stand design and build providers who adhere to a truly sustainable model. They are exhibition stand designers whose product, services, and facilities enable exhibitors to choose legitimately sustainable exhibiting over the appalling waste of build ‘n’ burn stands.

Quadrant2Design’s solution, the Prestige Events System, offers the environmentally aware exhibitor a number of advantages:

  • Transport: Smaller, lighter, less-polluting vehicles can be used to move hardware to and from the event.
  • Speed: Exhibition stands can be built quickly, using less on-site labour and resources.
  • Safety: No power tools are required, nor dust and debris produced, which means significantly reduced health and safety risks.
  • Clean-process: No screws, nails, glues, laminates, solvents or chemicals are needed on-site, reducing rubbish in the aisles.
  • Reusability: Structure and graphics can be easily reconfigured and reused for different stand space, at different shows, allowing these materials a much longer life than build ‘n’ burn exhibition stands.

As well as having a solution that enables sustainable exhibiting, Quadrant2Design’s business-model is centred on giving clients the power to reuse their exhibition stands again and again, with a Lifetime Free Stand Design policy.

It is possible to create custom-designed exhibition stands that look great, while meeting the exhibitor’s desire to find responsible and sustainable solutions, despite scepticism from both industry members and exhibitors alike.

Finding sustainable solutions to running a business has become not only a popular focus point in recent years but also an important one – don’t get caught out with a costly and environmentally damaging build ‘n’ burn nightmare.

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