Designer, Debra Roth Talks… Design Trends in Exhibits and Events

Designer, Debra Roth Talks…Design Trends in Exhibits and Events

As an industrial designer, I need to be a keen observer of visual trends –  from fresh ideas and new uses of materials to design styles.   I’m always on the look-out for the “next big thing.”

viva very short! - 01So, when I took 10 days to attend The Exhibitor Show, Global Shop and CaterSource/Event Solutions shows in Las Vegas, I was in heaven.

In my world, according to me @pinkdeb, Las Vegas is less associated with gambling than it is with being the exhibit/tradeshow capital of the world!

The tradeshow industry continues to thrive; apparently the model still works as attendees visit trade shows to either purchase something, network among their peers and build or maintain relationships.

I go to soak up some inspiration.

So, for me, this journey to Las Vegas was primed – I would be attending three successive tradeshows in 3 distinct industries featuring 3 distinctly different targeted markets, all with an abundance of creativity!

Exhibitor 2014

My very first impression…I was pleasantly surprised.

For the first time in a few years, exhibitors seemed to really care about the look, style and story they presented.

I walked into the show with its founder and owner, Lee Knight, where we were greeted by an enormous, and impressive, large-format graphic of a rock n’ roll legend… “I never thought I would see Jim Morrison (of The Doors) front and center at the Exhibitor show!”

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Jim Morrison image at the Exhibitor show

Although many of the exhibit booths had less real estate, the focus on design and impact through height, light, large graphics and new product demos created a buzz of energy and excitement on the floor. Story telling was a repeated theme, as shown in Group Delphi’s clever visual display.  Skyline presented WindScapes with a live demo. And Blue Telescope’s museum- like display caught my eye, especially their mini-mapping!!

In addition to the storytelling trend, I observed tech-integration through lighting, content, social media, and the counter-intuitive notion of “retro-future” where old things look new. For example, there was a print of an old object created with the newest technology. And print and fabric with silicon edge graphic (SEG and extrusion) are still going strong, and fabric that does not look like fabric  could be seen for miles. 

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Group Delphi at Exhibitor 2014

I met with my Women in Exhibitions group where we discussed design trends observed at Euroshop 2014. Katina Rigall, from Classic Exhibits, shared her design observations from the varied uses of textures and shapes that also included repeated flat shapes creating volume and tech-integration.

Next stop…Global Shop

A current backlash from the slick, highly-produced, digital, modern look, was evidenced by the abundance of more hand-wrought, home-made quality products and displays.

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Next Stop, Global Shop!

Also spotted for miles…printing on fabric, light boxes, light boxes and more light boxes, all with dazzling screens with media rich displays.

As an artist who still makes things by hand, I‘m particularly drawn to similarly constructed elements. The use of paper and felt has emerged in the past few years, creating forms which remind us that the human touch, thankfully still exists.

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Judith Von Hopf – Elevating Craft

Judith Von Hopf’s products demonstrated their craft-oriented wares which integrates rope, paper, fabric, yarns, and simple metal frame structures. Others used paper to create clothing and unique forms – in particular, hanging structures while others used felt for holiday trees and many other shapes.

SparkleMasters demonstrated the use of handmade craft with digital techniques. Digital photos or graphic imagery are plotted and then thousands of sequins are placed by hand to create an impactful light-catching visual display. Truly a company after my own heart.

With Global Shop at its new location in The Mandalay Bay Convention Center, it  was larger and livelier than last year’s show.

A word to the wise event design professional, don’t miss out on the stellar ideas and inspirations found in the world of Visual Merchandising and in-store display.

 CaterSource / Event Solutions

 I attended the final leg of my Vegas tour at CaterSource / Event Solutions with friend, colleague and partner in crime, Mark Musters (I’m Thelma to his Louise (Lou for short!)) and together we scrubbed the CS/ES show floor for design gems!!

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Rent Neon.!

Musters and I cruised the parties and trade show on the lookout for new products and trends. We networked with the best. Trends that emerged: handmade, vintage, crafty, the beauty in natural materials with good design and, again, what’s old is now new.

Here we both loved the Neon. Rent Neon ships from California to all over the world –

AFR featured a beautifully designed 3-legged, handmade, table created from natural materials. Well done!

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Vintage Beauty – Archive Rentals

Continuing the wave in vintage, Archive featured two areas – one with farm tables and mismatched dinnerware and a distressed beach scene with a trailer, salt water taffy, sea and sand.

Both Wildflower Linen and La Tavola exhibited beautiful displays with great use of color, texture, form and flowers to create inviting environments for events.

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la tavola – their gorgeous linens and decor

A personal highlight of the show was our live broadcast on the Event Alley show. Tahira Endean from Quick Mobile interviewed Mark and I about our observations of the show and the industry. We can be heard on-line at

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Mark Musters and Tahira on Event Alley

Social Points display was the perfect way to show social media in action.

All in all, trends emerged and inspired. We are in the age of video conferencing, the omnipresence of the World Wide Web and an even tighter squeeze on budgets. That said, a simple truth remains – in our business, where people gather is where you need to be. Live, face-to-face contact is still the most effective way to build relationships. We’re all still humans and people need people!!

Las Vegas, same time next year!!

Beautiful Las Vegas!


Written by:

Debra Roth
Creative / Principal
The Originators
O) 646-470-1744






Skyline Windscape

Group Delphi  

Blue Telescope 

 Judith Von Hopf’    


Exhibitor show   

Global Shop   

CaterSource / Event Solutions 

Rent Neon  



Wildflower Linen 

La Tavola 

Event Alley show  

Quick Mobile  

Social Point

Content Originated for MPI Onsite

 Design article can be downloaded here

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