Architectural style, visual language and artwork can set a mood, provide an atmosphere and set the stage to tell a story. Environmental designers use these elements to encourage conversation, education and make a lasting impact in exhibit spaces. But without one of the most essential elements of this checklist, things can fall flat in a big way.
When it comes to custom environment design, one of the most important pieces of the puzzle is lighting. Inconsiderate lighting treatments can discount much of the effort put into dramatic architecture and impactful artwork. Even the most beautiful custom furniture piece can seem drab if lit insufficiently.
Thoughtful lighting treatments, however, can lead the eye to varying points throughout the experience and control the story. Lighting also has the ability to define the character of a space – friendly, dramatic, mysterious, playful, energetic, happy, comforting – just to name a few.
Imagine a theater performance. When the performance starts, the primary lights dim and all focus is on the stage. There is a distinct feeling to that environment. One that prepares the viewer for what’s to come. Conversely, imagine going to an Apple store (yes, we know it’s overused). It is bright, the lighting is warm but not too yellow, and it’s an inviting, friendly space that focuses on the products and lifestyle of Apple.
So how will you prepare your attendee for what’s to come in an exhibit environment?
First consider the final goals of the exhibit and how you want to represent yourself.
- Are you a well-established company with loyal customers, but want to show them something new and fresh while maintaining your strong brand image?
- Or are you relatively new on the scene and want to make a huge impact to get your name out there?
- What is the story you’re telling?
- How do you want the attendee to feel as they approach and enter the space?
- How do you want them to feel after you’ve had your moment with them and they go about their day?
Let’s start with the obvious: your logo. It must be well lit so the viewer knows who you are and can easily find you. There are a few options for this: lighting from the front with a spot, halo lighting, face lighting or a combination of these. Lighting from the front can come from a simple par-can at the show hall or attached to the architecture. This is the most straightforward method. Edge lighting, halo lighting and face lighting can add an element of elegance and refinement to the logo treatment. Focus on doing this with the most prominent logos in the space. If the budget can handle it, an edge-lit logo or message on the reception counter is a great touch.
What is your message? If you really want the message to pop, to make a big statement, it warrants some focus. The above methods can apply to prominent messaging too.
One of the biggest mistakes many clients make is investing big in graphics, architecture and furniture, but not leaving enough in the budget for ambient environmental lighting. Think about how bright and/or focused you want the space to be. A bright, clean environment can be a beacon in the show hall and make the entire space feel welcoming and exciting. But dim the ambient lights and focus in on some key details and you get a dramatic, thoughtful, intriguing experience. One that focuses the eye, as mentioned earlier. Museum environments are good examples to look at when considering how different lighting affects mood and experience.
Taking it up a notch and thinking about movement in the lighting treatment, color, gobo projection, projection mapping – and then we’re in the realm of truss rigs. Truss rigs provide the ultimate flexibility to place lights where they are most needed. A huge consideration to note is that this versatility comes with expense. So a lighting plan needs to consider prioritization. If there are certain things in the environment that need no-holds-barred attention, then focus on a more premium lighting investment for that aspect. Then tier-it-down for the rest of the space without allowing it to go dark.
This brings us to “proportion” in lighting. There are times you can go overboard with lighting (yes it’s true!). All architecture and graphics throughout a booth have varying levels of importance – things you want to highlight, right? Again, prioritize. Apply some high-end lighting treatments to the most important logos, messages, hanging elements and architecture. Then light the rest strategically. It is a science and an art. Let’s call it Strategic Lighting Designology. Through our collaborative design process, we can make sure your Custom Exhibit Design shines. Contact Exhibitus at 800.770.4392 and let’s begin the conversation.