Every three years the best and brightest in the world of retail descend on Düsseldorf to glean the top trends in shop fitting, materials, display technology, and store design. While you can certainly find plenty of shelving systems and supermarket refrigeration units at EuroShop, this one-of-a-kind event truly has something for everyone interested in event marketing and exhibition design. With over 16 buildings, it’s a lot of ground to cover. The official categories include: Shop Fitting & Store Design, Retail Technology, Retail Marketing, Lighting, Visual Merchandising, Food Service Equipment, Refrigeration & Energy Management; Expo & Event Marketing. I attended this year’s event with a dream-team of creative directors from our US, Canadian and European offices. We scoured every hall and hundreds of exhibits to find the best in materials, display technologies, trends and our overall favorite designs and experiences.
Here are our top picks.
BEST MATERIALS / TECHNOLOGIES
This year showcased some cool applications and vendors of unique materials and display technologies. 3D MDF panels hit the scene several years ago, but Korean based FORESCOLOR displayed a new twist on this material with a kaleidoscope of multi-colored dimensional sheet goods. If you’ve ever wanted to re-create a rusted ship’s hull or crumbling concrete with exposed re-bar, check out ARTSTONE’s new line of textured wall panels. Continuing with our three-dimensional theme, check out BETONDRUCK. This cool new process of concrete 3D printing was beautifully showcased in the creation of a reception counter for Umdasch. At EuroShop 2017 we saw the use of stretch mirror film used in the DART exhibit to great effect. This time around, FLEXMIRROR is doubling-down with it’s 2-way ST line that allows bright images, video, and lights to pass through its mirrored surface. Polarized films also featured prominently in several exhibits. Exhibitors LICHT-CON, FAIRNET and HVS used these films in different ways to allow visitors to see hidden screen content. Another product that we saw three years ago at the 2017 KENDU exhibit was the animated lightbox. This year their use has exploded with dozens of applications. However, one exhibitor paired this tech with gesture tracking, providing a colorful and interactive digital lightbox.
BEST EXHIBIT DESIGNS
There were so many great exhibit designs that it’s hard to narrow the field, but here are a few of our favorite selections. Over the last few years, we’ve seen plenty of anamorphic art in music videos, architecture and street performance, but STANDPOINT did a masterful job of deconstructing their face logo into a highly engineered booth with a mind-bending illusion. Local students from the Peter Behrens School of Arts (PBSA Düsseldorf) put on a thought-provoking anti-display’ that pushed forward the concepts of more tactile and physical engagements while eschewing the trend of data tracking and consumer profiling. The venerable acrylic sheet-good producer PLEXIGLAS put forth a stylish and dimensional exhibit that beautifully accentuated its key product lines. ATELIER DAMBOCK went all-out with their stylized wooden cottage; complete with digital sky overhead, while Hall 10 produced some high concept designs from mannequin manufacturers such as GENESIS and IDW. Even the halls that focused primarily on supermarket hardware and equipment yielded some very creative and inspiring designs. Shopfitting giant WANZL created another highly detailed and interactive display with purpose-built vignettes and a multi-tier design. The VIESSMAN GROUP also had a strong display with their slatted house forms that housed various retail scenarios. And just to prove that shopping carts can be sexy too, MARSANZ truly elevated the humble supermarket chariot in their colorful multi-tier exhibit.
It’s not all about aesthetics after all. We witnessed some highly engaging and interactive spaces this year that served to really elevate the visitor experience. On a smaller scale, design firm ARMO created a fanciful lime-green shipping container space that also doubled as an immersive theater for guests. Retail designers UMDASCH filled their massive space with a myriad of interactive displays that ranged from peep-hole retail dioramas to projection touch-walls and self-serve toiletry dispensers featuring re-usable containers. DART didn’t disappoint this year either. Their stacked crate experience created an immersive raw space where guests could explore inside crates, both physically and virtually. The Turkish-based ARCOGLOBAL put forth a white gossamer exhibit that had a hidden guided experience. Our team was taken through a physical representation of their creative and operational processes with the opportunity to add our own customized pieces to their exhibit. One of my personal favorites came from PUBLIC ADDRESS. Their stand featured a mixture of physical activity (cycling) with augmented reality and mechanical displays that was a feast for the senses.
For better or worse, there were some definite trends that we noticed at this edition of EuroShop. For starters, visitors couldn’t take ten steps without seeing some form of unfinished wood. Raw wood was everywhere! In an apparent response to this slight case of deforestation, we also noticed an unusual number of trees planted throughout various exhibits. But the wooden extravaganza didn’t stop there. The use of particleboard and other engineered wood products was everywhere. These normally humble materials were used to great effect as floors, walls and feature elements in a wide variety of finishes and configurations. The most popular design element by far were vertical and horizontal slats. Louvers of all sizes and materials appeared in an incredible number of stands from SMART DESIGN EXPO to BROSZEIT. One of the most interesting trends we noticed was higher than normal use of analog interactives. Of course, there were the usual samples of digital tech and plenty of AR/VR applications, but it was refreshing to see so many exhibitors turn to more tactile and visceral forms of user engagement. Another element that stood out was the use of scent. Several displays were either promoting or using, devices that emitted olfactory stimuli through a variety of mechanisms and techniques. One excellent display from the ANSORG exhibit emitted scented vapor that you could catch in your hand, exciting multiple senses of smell, touch, and sight. Lastly, and arguably most comical, was the regular use of animals in a variety of displays. While flora was well represented through naturally grown materials and plant life, there was a strange amount of fauna present at this year’s event. From iguana-headed mannequins to a Schnauzer raising his leg to an exhibition stand, the whimsical use of animals brought some much-appreciated warmth and life to several displays.
While the 2020 edition of Euroshop may have certainly felt like a zoo at times, this event has once again left me and the kubik creative team with a rich resource of ideas and experiences that will undoubtedly help fuel innovation for years to come.