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Anyone who starts looking into exhibition stand construction quickly comes across a rather curious term: “Conventional exhibition stand construction” is often talked about. But what exactly does this mean? We shall attempt to explain.

In order to explain what is meant by conventional stand construction, we need to take a deeper look at its etymology. The adjective “conventional” means “traditional” or “customary”.  This means that doing something in a conventional manner means to do it in a traditional or familiar way. A conventional exhibition stand is therefore a traditional stand. But this still doesn’t make things entirely clear.

This terminology only really makes sense with the development of systematic stand construction. Systematic stand construction appeared in the 1970s. Producers of aluminium created perfectly fitting systems that worked in principle like a set of building blocks. A new and different way to build exhibition stands came about that was highly attractive to many due to its cost. Put another way, the stand construction system developed in the 1970s was the modern way of building exhibition stands and therefore unconventional.

The stand construction system, despite offering many advantages, was unable to push aside the traditional, i.e. “conventional”, methods of stand construction. In the narrowest sense, therefore, conventional means the way stands were constructed before the systematic construction method was used. Until that time, wood was traditionally the main construction material. Conventional stand construction using wood is still in demand today.

Exhibition stand using the conventional construction method.

Conventional stand construction is today often used as a synonym for custom stand construction. This is the fundamental difference to the more limited specifications offered by a construction kit style construction principle. Conventional, custom designs are also in demand today. It is the most prestigious discipline in exhibition stand construction because the production and assembly requires a lot of technical knowledge on the part of the provider. And what are the benefits? A short list:

Advantages of conventional stand construction

  • An almost unlimited range of design possibilities A wide range of materials can be easily combined
  • The completed exhibition stands are completely tailored to the needs of the exhibitor. The spaces that are created can be turned into unmistakable and highly personalised brand architectures.
  • Wood is very strong and gives off the appearance of being strong.

But where there is light, there is also shadow. And as such, there are a few disadvantages.

Disadvantages of conventional stand construction

  • Although individual stand components are easily reusable, not all materials can be removed as they went in and re-built again at a later date. Having to reproduce parts if the stand must be used multiple times is unavoidable.
  • Both preparation and assembly takes a lot more time and requires a great deal more expertise.
  • Due to their heavy weight, conventionally produced exhibition stands consume more resources with regards to transport.
Rear of a two level stand with conventional construction.

Systematic construction versus conventional stand construction

With the terminology issue cleared up, many exhibitors then wonder which of the two types of stand construction is more suitable for their needs. In this form, the question does not really help the exhibitor get close to an answer. It would be better to ask: What overall concept would make visitors to my stand enthusiastic and which idea will result in exhibition appearance achieving the success I hope for my business? Whether preferred concept is implemented using a system-based construction method or conventional method, or even a mixture of the two, becomes a less important question. The better concept decides.

The aesthetic quality of exhibition stands is as aspect of usability. This is because the exhibition spaces form the personal environment of visitors and influence how they are feeling. But only that which is well designed can be beautiful.

Based on Dieter Rams, Icons of Industrial Design


Author: Petra Hallmann