Booth Design Stories
Welcome to the show! Many exhibitors have generously shared their booth design plans, from concept to creation, to help you plan for a successful debut at the NSS. Read through to learn new tips and tricks for a knock-out booth design that is:
- Budget Conscious
- Authentic to Your Brand
- Inviting to Customers
- Showcases Your Product
- Efficiently and Effectively Planned
- Follows the Guidelines of the Show
- Maximizes Sales during the Show
417 Press is the creation of Michelle Secondi. She packed the full booth display in a regular sized minivan and drove it from Montreal to New York. Michelle built her modular wall system using 2’x4’s and plywood. The wall pieces were hinged and fixed together with pins & bolts. The walls were painted on-site, and the company name and booth number are displayed with vinyl decals, which she ordered from EGI Graphics. She recommends always ordering an extra set of decals – just in case!
The white desk was purchased from CB2, and was pre-assembled before being packed into the van. The stools were ordered on Overstock.com and delivered to a freight forwarding service just over the Canadian border into the U.S. Michelle picked them up en route to the Show. She got the flooring from Gym Supply Company, based in Toronto. Michelle ordered 100 12″x12” soft tile pieces in a wood grain look, but only used 80 to fully cover her 8’x10’ exhibit space.
The shelving and lamps were purchased from IKEA. Michelle recommends bringing extra lightbulbs, especially if they are a particular size or style that is hard to find. The flowers were purchased at a local corner store near the Javits Center. The candy on the desk is as much a decoration as it as a buyer amenity. The black licorice perfectly complements her overall booth aesthetic. According to Michelle, “Every small detail counts towards creating the bigger picture.”
2017 was Frankie’s Girl debut year as an exhibitor at the NSS. This stationery and lifestyle product company is the creation of Sarine Badelian, who alongside husband Frank, traveled from their hometown of Sydney, Australia to be part of the Show. They sought the help of Manny Stone Decorators for building the walls and floor of their 10’x6’ space. The walls were white foam board, and they chose interlocking foam flooring in an oakwood design. Sarine says that this was a very good idea, considering that exhibitors stand in their space for about 8 hours each day. She said the extra cushioning really made a difference. The exhibitors painted the side panel themselves in a blush pink acrylic paint which they purchased from Lowe’s Home Improvement.
Their original plan was to have timber cut for the card wall, however, after realizing the foam board wouldn’t hold heavy shelving, they opted to go with 7ft lightweight molding (or finger joint casing) again from Lowe’s. This is not used as shelving normally but the 2 1/4 inch width and grooves were perfect to keep the greeting cards and gift tags in place. These were secured to the foam board with small metal brackets placed on either side of each piece of molding.
The company logo and the booth numbers were laser cut from gloss black acrylic by their local laser cutters in Sydney, and secured onto the walls with double-sided tape. The Ranarp wall lights were from Ikea, as well as the white Kallax cabinet, storage boxes, and side table. The table was then painted the same pink color as the wall. Some Frosta stools to complete the space. Acrylic frame holders, used on the cabinet, were bought from the Container Store. The final touch was tulips that were bought from Brooklyn Fare on W. 37th St, just a block or so from the Javits Center.
Frog & Toad Press
Asher Scofield is the Art Director of the Providence, Rhode Island based company Frog & Toad Press. Asher and his team wanted to create a booth that would provide a welcoming, homey, and comfortable setting for buyers at the NSS. They worked closely with a local engineer named Gordon Moss on the structure of the booth. The booth consists of a steel frame which was put together by hand with nuts and bolts. The “walls” consist of 8 horizontal modules of alupanel, which is a made of aluminum sheets sandwiched around a plastic core. These panels are not only firm and steady, but are lightweight and easy to transport, which was critical to Asher’s design strategy. The panels were covered individually with wallpaper before being aligned and assembled onto the frame with magnets. For structural integrity and to prevent any bending or swaying, a crossbeam was installed, which also served as a vessel for the lamps to be clamped onto. The crossbeam is L shaped, and the electric cables from the lamps were taped and hidden on the rear side of the beam. The lamps were purchased at IKEA. In addition to the crossbeam, the triangular footing on the left side of the booth also adds structural support and serves as an anchor for the entire display. It has a 100 lb. weight stored inside.
To produce the shelving, their engineer ordered raw aluminum and cut and shaped it himself. They were attached to the wall panels with magnets. The lower quarter of the booth consists of wainscoting with a chair rail, which added a finishing touch for a homey feeling. This was also attached using magnets. The picture frames were hung from filament wiring, which was attached to magnetic hooks placed on the back of the booth. The flooring consisted of soft tiles in a hardwood design, which also served as cushioning in the moving truck for some of the more delicate piece of the display. Asher and everyone at Frog & Toad Press takes pride in using local, American made products. Their furniture was supplied by O&G Studio, who are exhibitors in ICFF. Frog & Toad Press’s full display was transported from Providence to New York in a box truck with a 12 ft. cargo space.
Rachel Kroh is the proud owner of Heartell Press. Rachel recently relocated the business from Brooklyn, NY to Fort Wayne, Indiana. She shipped her 8×10 booth display to and from the Javits Center in a crate. Her walls were built out of plywood, and were painted white before shipment. The walls consisted of a total of 13 8×2 panels (4 for each sidewall, 5 for the backwall), which fold down to 4×2 panels for storage. To secure the walls, Rachel used bolts and wingnuts and fastened them by hand. The shelving is made of wood molding which Rachel purchased from Home Depot and then cut herself. Her logo and booth number are vinyl decals, which were provided by SMP Graphics, an NYC based supplier. The frames holding her art prints were purchased from Frame Destination, and were screwed into the walls.
For additional structure and stability, Rachel added two plywood crossbeams across the top of the booth. They were cut with an L-shaped lip and then bolted onto the top of the sidewall. The crossbeams also served as a vessel for the lighting fixtures. There were two different types of lights in the booth, track lights purchased from Home Depot, and clip-on lamps that were purchased on www.lampsplus.com. The soft tile flooring was purchased from www.foamtiles.com. For furniture, Rachel purchased a garden bench on eBay, and painted it to match her booth’s design aesthetic. The potting bench on the other side of the booth was purchased on www.hayneedle.com.
For decorations, Rachel brought silk flowers and plants which were purchased at International Silk Flowers in Los Angeles, and Joanne Fabrics. The plants on the walls were secured with filament wire and push pins. The pocket pouch used to store her clipboards was purchased on Amazon, as well as the storage bins that were kept on the bottom shelf of the potting bench. The small white tables that were placed on both sides of the garden bench were purchased at Joanne Fabrics.
Little Canoe is the product of Portland-based illustrator Brooke Weeber. She used the veloce hardwall package offered by Freeman, the official contractor of the National Stationery Show. The walls were set up and ready for Brooke upon her arrival for set-up. Before leaving for NYC, she ordered 4 colorful vinyl decals of her artwork from Uprinting.com to use for her backwall design. She used FedEx to ship them to the Javits Center, and Freeman delivered them to her booth. The decals included the large background image as well as the booth number, logo and the cloud designs. Before applying the decals, she simply cut out the outline in order to leave a white background. She painted the sidewalls of her booth using one gallon of blue paint that she purchased at The Home Depot. She bought a gallon of blue paint at The Home Depot, and painted the sidewalls in her booth.
She ordered the furniture from IKEA collectively with some classmates from Tradeshow Bootcamp, who were also NSS exhibitors. This consisted of the Applaro table, stools, and storage bench, which ended up being a great place to store her backup supplies, jacket and purse. The group shared the delivery costs, and the items were delivered directly to one member of the group’s booth. Brooke then picked up her items during setup. Brooke ordered flooring which was interlocking foam tiles from www.foamtiles.com. Brooke also used FedEx shipping to the Javits Center for the tiles. Brooke highly recommends the flooring, as it added a much-needed layer of support after 8 hours of standing while exhibiting in the Show.
The wooden card shelves were crafted and stained by Brooke’s father. They were just thick enough for a single card with a notch cut out so it would easily rest on the shelf without falling. She then purchased some craft plaques on Amazon for the SKUs, which she brought with her in her suitcase, and screwed in under each card display. She bought the frames for her artwork on Amazon and transported those in her suitcase. She removed the glass to eliminate glare for photography reasons. She made a last-minute trip to The Home Depot to buy the clip-on lamps which were then spray painted red for a unique look that really popped. The final touch were a few plants to give the booth an “outdoorsy” vibe, which she purchased at The Home Depot. The remainder of the decorations were brought from home out of her personal collection.
For the finishing touches, Scott purchased milk glass vases and bowls from a flea market, cut the raw wood cross sections for display stands himself and borrowed a metal display stand from his wife’s retail store for his “Love Notes” and “Gift Enclosures” lines.
Cara Underwood brought this fabulous booth display on behalf of Underwood Letterpress. Cara worked with a local contractor to build hardwalls, as well as the crate that was used to ship the booth from San Francisco to New York. She painted her walls before they were shipped. The walls are hinged halfway and fold open, and are then locked in place with pins and bolts. The shelving units were purchased at IKEA, and are attached to the walls using industrial Velcro®. The lamps were also purchased at IKEA, and were screwed into the hardwood at the top of the booth. Cara assembled the racks used to display her wallpaper from copper piping which she got at Home Depot, and then used industrial Velcro® to attach to the walls.
The dresser, stools, circular ottoman and plant stand were rented from Patina, a vintage furniture rental supplier based in Brooklyn. Cara contracted a third party to coordinate the pick-up and drop-off off these items. The rug in her booth had previously been used in Cara’s own home, and she decided to repurpose it for her booth display at the Show. A local supplier was used for the vinyl decals which display the company logo, and the booth number at two top corners of the booth. The extension flag reaching out into the aisle is composed of MDF board, which was cut by a local laser cutter, and then painted. Cara promoted a giveaway on Instagram of canned Japanese iced coffee, which was stored on the plant stand. This touch was very popular and helped her drive traffic to the booth. Cara advised that exhibitors who ship their booths in crates to take into consideration the way that the crate will be handled and moved around. She advised packing everything in a way that minimizes movement as much as possible to prevent damage.
Keli Catalano is the creator of Colette Paperie. Keli believes in keeping things simple, and letting the products speak for themselves. She used a teal blue paper backdrop, that she hung and clipped over the pipe and drape. She ordered the paper from The Set Shop in NYC, and purchased soft tile flooring at Home Depot. She was pleased with this decision, as it was very cost effective. In addition to improving the look of the booth, the extra cushioning underfoot made a big difference over the course of the show. She used a small table purchased from IKEA, and used it to store her essential sales materials. She had multiple clipboards with attached, this way buyers could just grab a clipboard and a pen, and write up an order. She got her clipboards, as well as the bins to store them, on Amazon.
Keli thought about having a table or a desk in the booth, but she decided that she wanted to leave as much free space as possible, so that buyers would be able to easily maneuver inside the booth, and clearly view all of her products. She used double-sided tape to attach her cards to the display paper, and she kept samples on the side in case a buyer wanted to touch one of the cards or look more closely. She purchased pastel colored tags from Michaels, and hand-drew over them to note the different card categories in her line. Her logo was displayed on a 4 ft banner that was supplied by Vistaprint. Keli doesn’t believe in the fuss of having plants, candy, and other small accessories. She wanted to keep her booth simplified and use her space efficiently. While not visible in the photo, there was a doormat at the entrance of the booth that said “Come back when you have tacos and booze!”. Keli describes this as her “candy”, the eye catcher that would get buyers to stop and look at her booth.
Paper Acorn CO
Suze Reilly made her debut as an exhibitor in 2017, and used this very resource for inspiration to design her 6×10 booth display. She rented foamboard walls from Manny Stone Decorators and decided to go with a “periscope” color. The large posters were attached to the walls using push pins and double-sided tape. To display her cards, she disassembled two old antique shutters. She painted each individual slot, and used a hot glue gun to attach them to the foamboard. She then used clothes pins to hang the cards. While very aesthetically pleasing, Suze decided that next time she would elect for open shelving. This way, buyers would feel more comfortable picking up the cards and looking more closely.
The black table, two chairs, and carpet were purchased at IKEA. The cabinet and pedestal in the right corner are from her own antique collection. The cabinet served not only as decoration but as a storage device for work supplies, extra product inventory, sales information like catalogs, etc. She purchased large leaf decorations at Homegoods. They were originally green, but Suze painted them gold. On top of the cabinet, there is a pewter bowl with hand-painted gold acorns, which served as a beautiful decoration and complemented her brand. She used an antique soap dish to display her business cards on the front table. She purchased 4 clip-on lamps at Lowes, and placed two on the backwall, and one on each sidewall. She hung both her booth logo sign as well as booth number signs on the sidewalls using s-hooks, which were provided for free by Freeman, the Show Decorator.
WHAT NOT TO DO!
This exhibitor used the black drape provided with the booth package, and simply hung the product from “S” hooks attached to the top of the pipe. This does not allow for retailers to view the product up-close, and the large table gets in the way of retailers stepping into the booth.