The Overview

We were approached by an automotive supplier to help them with their brand launch at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit and Auto Shanghai in China. Having just been spun off from their parent company, they were already one of the largest suppliers in the automotive industry, but they needed to make a splash with their new brand. 

The Process

First there was Detroit.

By the time we entered the process, the client had already designed the basic layout of the booth.  We were asked to work on the technical details.  The one thing they knew for sure was that they wanted a large LED wall in the center of the space, and something in their reception area to be a first impression of the new brand as attendees entered the booth.

The booth was not actually on the show floor, but in one of the large meeting rooms in the convention center.  This presented one major challenge.

I wanted to light this space like a museum, and while there was some existing track lighting in the space, it certainly wasn’t enough to light the exhibits in an effective way so I had to explore the possibility of rigging.  With the help of the hall, I was able to design a rigging plot that would utilize beam clamps to be installed directly to the steel beams above the drop ceiling. This would allow us to cut holes in the ceiling tiles and hide our motors up in the ceiling for a super clean look.  Then we would use 8 inch triangle truss that was wrapped in white muslin, and small ellipsoidal, LED zoom fixtures to light the exhibits. It was a compact and effective rig.  One of the stagehands called it “cute”.

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Lighting Rig Installation

The LED screen was was a fairly simple design.  We used a product with a 2.8mm pixel pitch, and the wall size was 3.5 meters high by 9 meters wide.  The screen would display a loop that would run throughout the day during the show and visuals for a press conference. Our video/graphics team designed all content for this screen.

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LED Wall In Action

For the reception area we had to come up with something different yet functional. There had to be a digital display that could tell the brand story, utilizing some existing content supplied by the marketing department, while being interesting enough to really catch people’s attention.  Due to space limitation, I came up with the idea of a monitor wall.

I have done several monitor walls in the past, and I have never been a big fan of them because I always think they make the space feel like a sports bar. We looked into a bunch of options, including transparent OLED screens, but nothing really stuck.  The clients brand uses a lot of 45 degree angles so one day while doing a napkin sketch I came up with the idea of setting typical slim bezel monitors on a 45 degree angle and placing them on a wall that we would fabricate and utilize some LED lighting for a “halo” effect that would be programmed to complement the video content.  I presented this to the client and they were all in.

As always, there were plenty of challenges about how to build the structure, mount the displays and design the content, but I could not have been happier with the end result. The monitor wall achieved everything that we needed and then some.

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Diagonal Monitor Wall

And here is a time lapse video of the 5 week set up.

The Summary

Although this was just the first of 3 major auto shows I will help design and mange for this client.  It was a great start in a challenging space. The different technologies worked perfectly and the brand launch has been a major success.

Also…

Since this auto show, I was involved in the design and management of the same booth at Auto Shanghai in China.  This time we had an actual booth on the show floor so we were able to execute a more traditional exposition design.  Here are a few pictures.

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My “Museum” Lighting Design

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