Monthly Archives: January 2013

Ten Questions for Exhibit Designer Nicole Lahr

What does it take to become a trade show booth designerWe posed ten questions to designer Nicole Lahr to find out that it takes undeniable talent, unparalleled ambition and a little bit of luck. 


1.  How did you get involved in the trade show industry?

I studied computer animation & graphics at Savannah College of Art & Design.  I was hoping to get a job in the entertainment industry, or to design video games.  A family friend, who was a salesman in the industry, saw my work, and thought I would work well in trade show booth design.


2.  What computer programs to do use on a daily basis?

I use Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator, After Effects and Lightwave 3D.


3.  What would you say is your favorite aspect of your job?

I like being able to see a project go from a visualization to a reality.


4.  What is the least favorite aspect of your job?

Sometimes the fast paced nature of the exhibit design and fabrication industry is limiting in the design area based on time restraints for the final build.


5.  What has been the biggest design challenge to date?

Professional Disposable Products (PDI) had re-branded with a new, clean look for their company.  I was tasked with creating a 30’ x 40’ booth design incorporating custom elements with rental items providing a modern look with an open feel.


6.  How did you overcome this challenge?

I designed a 12’h back area with a museum exhibit aesthetic.  This space allowed for a walk-through area, a photo-shoot area, highlighting of the client’s new corporate branding, and featured LCD screens to promote their in-booth activity.  This area consolidated the client’s needs while still providing an open feel to the rest of the booth.


7.  What has been your favorite design?

The corporate interior project based solely on my original design idea for Ansell Healthcare.  I enjoyed the process of branding a permanent space and seeing the project come full circle.


8.  What was the biggest highlight for you in your career?

So far, being voted one of Event Design’s “23 Women to Watch in the Exhibit Industry” was pretty cool.


9.  What are some of the trends to you see in trade show booth design?

I notice a lot of designs are becoming very minimalistic, mod, almost sculptural.  Definitely more technology to showcase the company like interactives  giving them a less cluttered look, and a more open, clean feel.


10.  What hobbies do you enjoy when you’re not at work?

I still love playing video games, I obsess over music, and I enjoy doing invitation and paper product design on the side.



Nicole Lahr is a designer, renderer and computer animator at exhibit design and fabrication firm Loran Associates, Inc.

Loran Designed Casio Store Opens in SoHo

Just in time for the holiday season, Casio has launched its flagship store in New York’s SoHo district for its popular G-Shock watch.

Living up to its brand, the interior is a large scale evolution of the tough, durable and functional characteristics which make G-Shock one of the most sought after watches of our time.  The use of innovative materials, and unique approach to design, provides the backdrop for this one-of-a-kind brand.

The two-story space was designed as a retail interior on the lower, street-level floor where consumers can purchase the latest style in G-Shock watches, or browse limited edition pieces for sale only at this New York location.  Adorned with brick veneer walls, the interior façade lends itself to the brand’s street-wear influence.   The rugged watches are showcased on illuminated reclaimed wood displays, steel drums and pipe fabricated shelving.  Purchases can be made on the custom concrete slabs used for its cash and wrap location.  While there are many highlights in this retail interior, the custom sculpted watch display made solely from G-Shock watches, imbedded to form the “G” logo, is an in-your-face representation of the heart of this product.

The second floor is used as a gallery space featuring exhibits by some of G-Shock’s many collaborators.  The store’s opening featured its collaboration with renowned graffiti artist Eric Haze.  Haze and G-Shock have launched several successful watch styles featured in the gallery.  Haze has also adorned the walls with some of his unique, graffiti art.

A history wall showcasing the evolution of the G-Shock watch is also located on the upper floor.  Here, consumers can follow the timeline of innovative design and lineage of the brand proving the powerful influence the brand has had on our culture throughout the years.

Not unlike the watch itself, the rugged atmosphere is also adorned with the latest in technology.  The first floor features four, 50” plasma screens and one 60” LCD screen, while the upper-level gallery showcases an 80” LED monitor.

The store, located at 454 West Broadway, will feature limited edition watches, along with popular brands such as Baby-G, ProTrek and Edifice.

The G-Shock store was designed and fabricated by Loran Associates.  Loran Associates, located in Randolph, NJ, is an exhibit design and fabrication firm which also specializes in retail and corporate interior environments.

Which Association is Right for You?

Industry associations are a vital outlet for both newcomers and career veterans for gaining knowledge, experience, and networking opportunities.  Every industry has dozens of associations claiming to be the best, and the trade show exhibit industry is no different.  So which one is right for you?

I have broken down a few of the key industry associations to make the choice a little easier for you.


E2MA: Exhibitor & Event Marketers Association:  In 2012, E2MA was formed from a landmark decision transferring the members, administration and intellectual assets of the Trade Show Exhibitors Association (TSEA) to the Exhibitors Appointed Contractors Association (EACA).   Its mission statement is to “raise the level of service excellence on the show floor”.  And who doesn’t want that?  Basically, E2MA is two of the largest industry associations formed into one Über-association.


  • The new E2MA Association offers the CME Program, Certified Manager of Exhibits.  This program is a nationally recognizable and respected certification in the exhibit industry.
  • Mentor Programs for new industry members to gain experience from senior members of the industry.
  • Vast resources and networking opportunities within the industry with its Face-to-Face Connections Program (a unique pre-qualified buyers/sellers meeting opportunity) and the Red Diamond Conference, E2MA’s annual meeting.

Should I Join?

E2MA is a must for anyone in the tradeshow exhibit industry.  Now that it combines both the TSEA members and the EACA members, this organization will provide its members the latest information on the current happening in the event and exhibiting industry, and where heading in the future.


CEIR: Center for Exhibition Industry Research:  CEIR, “produces primary research studies that prove the effectiveness and efficiency of exhibitions as a marketing medium.”  The CEIR offers both existing and custom research data proving the impact of various aspects of the industry.


  •  Research, research, research:  the CEIR is the place to go for information and data on any aspect of the industry whether you are an exhibit manager or an industry supplier.
  • Annual events include its annual conference and CEIR Predict.

Should I Join?

While CEIR offers some free resources, the vast number of studies and research they offer are free with a paid membership subscription (these can be purchased as well).  While the information they provide is invaluable, membership will depend on the number of times you   would find a need to access this information.


ESCA: Exhibition Services and Contractors Association:   The ESCA is for any firm providing services or materials to the meetings, exhibition or hospitality industry.


  •  ESCA is a great resource for finding service contractors and their industry suppliers.
  • Gain insight into the “behind the scenes” aspect of the industry and its future trends.
  • Events and meeting include its Summer Education Conference, Annual Meeting and Site Inspection Workshops

Should I join?

ESCA can provide invaluable networking opportunities and insight into the supplier’s side of the industry, if this is your area, I would definitely check them out.


EDPA: Exhibit Designers and Producers Association:  EDPA specializes in providing education, leadership and networking opportunities to exhibit designers and fabricators through its main organization, local chapters and annual meetings.


  • EDPA offers its members various outlets to spread the word on their company’s services and values through various industry awards, recognition, and annual meetings.
  • EDPA is also very proficient in providing research to its members on current trends and issues in the industry.
  • EDPA has an annual meeting, as well as many chapter events.

Should I Join?

EDPA is a nationally recognizable industry association which is beneficial to designers, producers and suppliers in the exhibit and event industry.  Exhibit design and fabrication professionals should definitely look into joining.


HCEA: Healthcare Convention and Exhibitors Association:  This organization is dedicated to increasing the quality and effectiveness of the healthcare industry’s conventions, meetings and exhibits.


  •  HCEA allows a forum where healthcare exhibitors, medical associations and event suppliers have an opportunity to gain insight and understanding into this vast industry market.
  • HCEA provides vast resources on the various guidelines in this often complicated and ever-changing industry.
  • HCEA, through a partnership with E2MA, a Certified Manager of Healthcare Exhibits (CME/H) program.
  • HCEA offers an Annual Meeting and Healthcare Marketing Summit.

Should I Join?

Membership is not only a no-brainer for any supplier or exhibit manager in the healthcare industry, but should be a requirement.


IAEE: International Association of Exhibitions and Events:  IAEE is comprised of industry planners and producers, as well as industry suppliers to promote the value of exhibits and events.


  •  IAEE offers extensive education to its members to better themselves as professionals in the industry, such as Certification in Exhibition Management (CEM), Advanced CEM programs, IAEE Sales Academy and IAEE Marketing Academy.
  • IAEE has several regional meetings and events, as well as its annual Expo! Expo! Meeting.
  • Their website offers ample resources for all aspects of exhibiting and events.

Should I Join?

IAEE offers all the services and resources needed to advance your knowledge, placement and future in the exhibit and event industry.


Regardless of your position in the event and exhibit industry, there is an association providing valuable insight and networking opportunities to help along the way.  Having memberships in at least two of the above is guaranteed to get you on the right path.

If you need help choosing which association is right for you, or for additional insight into the event and exhibit industry, contact tradeshow exhibit professionals at Loran Associates.

Make The Most Of Your Trade Show Exhibit

Let’s face it, tradeshows are expensive.  There are big costs like space rental and little ones like freebies, but they all add up.  You want to make sure that your trade show exhibit returns the investment

Inc. Magazine offers these tips for making the most of your trade show:


Manning the exhibit at a show is only a small part of the work that needs to be done for a successful show.  Months prior, identify your goals for the show, whether it’s acquiring leads, performing product demonstrations or giving interviews with the media. 


Making appointments in advance with important customers or prospects will make sure you get to interact with those most important to your business.    Send invitations to attendees draw them to your tradeshow exhibit.  Consider offering a gift for those who stop by.   A Georgia Southern University study found that invitations including the promise of a gift yielded more traffic than those with a coupon or no offer.


Choose your booth staff wisely.  Attractive models might be eye catching, but they don’t know your business.  Your choices for staffing should reflect the types of people attending the show.  For example, if there are a lot of engineers in attendance, be sure you have your company’s engineers at the booth to talk with them in their language.

Train your trade show booth staff to determine who are good prospects and what to do with those that are.  Instead of engaging in small talk or a sales pitch, staff should ask leading questions about why the person is there, what they do at their company and if your product is a good fit for them.  Only qualified prospects should be offered a product presentation.


You don’t need your staff wasting time on people who are not your customers.  Your graphics should make it clear who you are and what you do.   A visitor should be able to determine what you are selling and if it applies to them in the few seconds it takes for them to walk by your exhibit.   Clear and concise graphics using text and images will tell your story.


A small booth taking up the minimum amount of space required is easy to miss.  Go bigger and you will increase your chances of being noticed.  A larger booth and dynamic booth design will separate you from the smaller companies who spent the minimum amount on the show.


Always contact everyone who visited your booth shortly after the show.  A letter or e-mail is appropriate for those that you had minimal contact.   For hot prospects consider a personalized package with a small gift.


Take a look at the number of leads you gained from the show and how you did in relation to your goals.   This will give you an idea of what worked and if things need to be changed.  It will also help you measure performance against other shows.

Keeping the above in mind when planning your trade shows will maximize your investment.  Loran Associates’ exhibit design and fabrication team can also help you with the knowledge and expertise to craft an exhibit that will showcase your company and products.

Renting or Owning Your Trade Show Displays – Which is Best For You?

An amazing trade show exhibit can make a big impact at any venue, but can also make a big impact on your budget.  What should you consider when considering trade show display rentals or purchases?


It’s clear a unique and memorable trade show booth design is important in drawing customers to your space.  What isn’t as clear is whether it is better to own or rent it.  Some exhibit companies are now offering a custom rental option making the decision even more difficult.  So what is right for you?  Here are a few things to consider when deciding to rent or own.


RENT – You really want to impress at a show.   Traditional trade show display rentals allow for limited customization, decreasing the WOW factor. 

CUSTOM RENTAL:  Loran Associates offers a custom rental option allowing customers the freedom to customize their tradeshow exhibit by providing all the benefits of a custom exhibit.

OWN – An exhibit you own will be designed and built to meet your exact desires and needs.   Your exhibit design can include elements that will grab people’s attention and impress them with your company’s vision.



RENT – Because you are not tied down to one particular exhibit, you have the freedom to mix it up!  Most trade show exhibit companies offer a wide range of trade show display rental options to provide flexibility and the right exhibit for the right show.  A wide array of colors, sizes and layouts are available to make your booth at each show truly unique. 

CUSTOM RENTALS:  Most custom rentals are modular to accommodate any booth size and configuration offering flexibility for any trade show schedule.

OWN – Since you are not spending money for each show on rental fees, funds can be used for graphics or collateral specific to that show.



RENT – Traditional rental options is a cost effective solution for companies who exhibit once a year, exhibit with smaller booth configurations and first time exhibitors. 

CUSTOM RENTALS:  When establishing your rental plan, you can choose the number of shows and uses to dissipate the cost of your custom exhibit rental to fit your needs.

OWN – The cost per use decreases every time you use your exhibit.  After the initial purchase, the only costs incurred are standard check-out, handling and minor maintenance.  This option is ideal when attending multiple shows per year over several years making ownership worthwhile.



RENT – A small company or start-up may not have the capital needed to purchase an exhibit.  Renting also allows companies to try out various configurations and designs to see what works best for them before committing to owning.

CUSTOM RENTAL:  Custom rentals offer the same stability as ownership over the life of your rental contract.  Although it is a rental, Loran does not rent custom exhibits to other clients while the exhibit is under contract, ensuring your exhibit is available for you when you need it.

OWN – Your company has spent time and money (probably a lot of both) on branding and you want to reinforce it as much as possible.  When you own your exhibit, people see it at multiple shows, enhancing your branding and your image as a solid, stable company.



RENT – At 1/3 the cost of owning an exhibit, rentals have a smaller impact on your budget.  Additional costs such as depreciation, storage, insurance, maintenance/refurbishment and disposal are not an issue.  If your company is located outside of the United States, international shipping costs will not be a factor.

CUSTOM RENTAL: You choose the cost scenario for custom rentals.  If you attend one show per year, the rental cost is dissipated over a determined number of years minimizing the impact on your yearly budget.  Like traditional rentals, custom rental booths pay no storage, refurbishment or destroyal fees.

OWN – Rental fees can add up and could be greater than owning and using the same exhibit for several years.  The cost of owning your exhibit can be amortized over the years you will be using it.  Funds that might need to be allocated to rental fees can be used for other purposes, like attending more shows.


Both renting and owning your trade show display have clear advantages.  Carefully considering the above will help you determine which is best for your company.  If you’d like help, contact us!  We’ll use our 22 years of exhibit design and fabrication experience to guide you through the process.