Ideas generator

Mark Elgar, managing director of 4sight Design responds to Sandra Stuart's piece in the July issue of EN: Find your Louboutin moment. Intrigued by the title, I read Sandra’s article with great interest expecting to be inspired by examples of innovation. However, before reading too far I began to experience resistance to the premise that show organisers have just two customers namely visitors and exhibitors. A feeling further enhanced by the comment that it is organisers who are responsible for ‘building environments to engage, interact and do business’. At this point I found myself wanting to shout ‘what about the stand designers?’ – indeed, what about all the many professions and trades whose input is vital to any successful show environment? Those dedicated professionals without whose innovations and ideas no show could function. I relaxed a little on reading Sandra’s nod to contractors later in the piece but was left feeling that a recurrent frustration with the whole exhibitions and events industry was simply being reinforced. And that frustration is that the thinkers and the doers who make exhibition and event environments come to life are rarely if ever properly acknowledged as professionals who should be on an equal footing with exhibitors and visitors in the organisers list of ‘customers’. Of course, organisers are responsible for the whole ‘universe’ of any event but the diversity of design ideas within the show itself is driven independently of the organisers especially as more and more of them sub-contract their design approvals to third party agencies. I wonder these days whether many organisers actually ever see what is going to be built at their show before the event opens. Maybe we are victims of the past when designers stood aloof flourishing imaginative ideas at expensive prices and contractors might have been seen as no better than cowboy builders. The industry has moved on and there’s some evidence of more professional respect but it’s not gone anywhere near far enough. In fact, with cost seeming to be the principle driving factor in many client stand and organiser feature decisions, one could argue the respect for the innovators is in fact in decline. And that won’t change until clients and organisers recognise that innovation and creativity cannot be driven by cost but must be assessed on value. So, Sandra, picking up on your positive comment about consulting contractors, let’s see that as an essential part of your show planning process and not just something which might be nice to do occasionally. We’re all after the same thing – success – for exhibitors, visitors, organisers, designers and contractors. And a more consultative and collaborative strategy with the ideas generators is definitely a good place to start.    Any comments? Email Jamie Wallis
Mark Elgar
Posted by Mark Elgar
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