Earlier this week, we caught up with Ab Rogers as he works on his concept for this year’s May Design Series exhibition design. He’s given us a few hints before as to what the show might look like, but we can finally reveal some more snippets about the theme behind this year’s design and why exhibitions need to be more sustainable.
Hi Ab, what have you got planned for May Design Series 2014 – how will the show look?
We’re using cardboard tubes as a system of absorbing sound and screening partitions, but these cardboard tubes are dyed in a spectrum of vibrant colours. In some moments they are very densely placed together, to create an acoustic separation between [for example] the Conversation Series theatre and the areas around it. The cardboard tubes are of various scales of thickness and dimension, so they become like a cardboard tube forest.
We’re also using the same system with less density in the VIP area, so we can separate the space for the VIPs to meet, with an element of transparency.
We’re using the same system for the bar; that becomes much less dense, and the tubes will support the structure of the bar. Overhead will be this extraordinary illuminated cloud that we’re making with LG Chemicals. We’re working with LG Chem to produce an illuminated canopy using organic LEDs. The extraordinary thing about organic LEDs is it’s a material that’s a fraction of a millimetre thin, and continuously illuminated. We’re creating a lightweight illuminated canopy which will create a diffused glow of light, and that will be in both the bar and the VIP area. It’s the first time such a thing has been created on this scale.
Have you used cardboard on this scale before?
No, we’ve been quite interested to. The great thing about using recycled cardboard is that at the end of the project you put it back into the machine and it eats it all up and makes more cardboard out of it; there’s a great direct recycling process.
So sustainability is a big part of the show design?
We’re trying to minimise the volume of waste; ideally the elements we’re using will be 100% recyclable. We’re concerned that in trade shows a huge amount of material goes in, gets erected, gets disassembled and thrown away. We think it’s time to look at the trade show and the lifespan of the furniture it contains.
How will visitors know that they’re at May Design Series 2014 when they arrive? How will the show be a unique experience for them?
Through these very vibrant colours, which we started last year; they’re going to be even stronger this year. Also, everything will be very much in the round – it can be approached from every direction. So I think it’s going to be a very strong and direct design.
Experience Ab’s design for the May Design Series at London ExCel from 18-20 May. Register now to be a part of it all!