When faced with designing their first exhibits, most companies turn to experienced exhibit houses. But The Rocket Science Group LLC (dba MailChimp), an email-marketing platform, went an unexpected route for its trade show debut at the 2016 Internet Retailer Conference and Exhibition (IRCE): It partnered with Calamity LLC, a design studio headed by Michael Bricker, whose background is primarily in independent feature films and commercials. "MailChimp wanted a design that would treat booth visitors as audience members, transporting them away from the show itself to a space where we dictated the tone, story, and conversation," said Bricker, who created a semi-enclosed space with a strong focus on texture and reflection.
The Rocket Science Group LLC (dba MailChimp) turned to a film-focused production designer to create its first exhibit. The resulting design emphasized reflection, light, and texture via glossy black surfaces, LED-lit structural elements, and head-turning walls draped in copper mesh.
The 20-by-30-foot exhibit was framed with black trusses and 10 "ribs" faced with glossy black laminate and illuminated by LEDs placed under strips of frosted Plexiglas. Roughly 4-foot-wide black laminate walls stood in the middle of each end of the exhibit, serving as locations to display graphics of MailChimp's winking mascot, Freddie.
To enclose the $190,000 space while following IRCE's strict rules regarding sightlines, Bricker opted for a black fabric ceiling but draped the sides of the exhibit with semitransparent copper Fabricoil mesh. LED down lighting hidden above the mesh made the copper surface seem to glow, resulting in a booth that one Exhibit Design Awards judge called "simultaneously elegant and industrial."
And in a nod to MailChimp's playful marketing, 98 black plastic models of Freddie gave an added dimension to the interior of one side wall – effectively proving that designing a debut exhibit doesn't need to be a case of "monkey see, monkey do." E