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Creating an event out of fabric

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Wanting to “wow” their best management staff, T-Mobile approached Rainier Industries seeking colorful, creative and flexible graphics and displays for a staff appreciation event planned at the Colorado Convention Center in Denver.

The Challenge: Sight unseen

What do you do when you’re working with a marketing partner who has a concept and knows where the event will take place but has no idea what will actually go into the space? You get on a plane, visit the venue, measure everything in sight in every direction and come home to the drawing board hoping you didn’t miss anything because you’re not going back.

The parameters were pretty clear. The event was scheduled for three days. The displays included a welcome arch, banners and flags, and installation of some window graphics. Nothing could be hung from the ceiling, nothing could be attached to the walls, and the arch had to be something that could be picked up and relocated several times, quickly and easily. In short: colorful, versatile, flexible, easy to ship, easy to install, and easy to move around the venue.

The solution

Working as a team with the graphic designer, Rainier’s structural designers and project manager created a welcome arch that would be printed on Spandex using dye sublimation. Because attendees would be seeing the structure from both sides and underneath, the arch was fabricated to completely enclose an aluminum frame.

Except for several large banners that could be hung from a second-story railing, all the banners and flags had to be free standing and dozens of stands had to be constructed.

Printing on a fabric like Spandex requires careful fitting. The combination of shrinkage during the sublimation process and stretching from the weight of the fabric on the frame means the image file must take the changes into consideration to avoid distorting the image.

Incorporating Velcro and yards and yards of zippers made it possible to not only cover the frame completely, but to anchor sections to support the weight of the fabric and avoid excessive stretching.

The result

Designed to be installed by convention center workers with limited experience assembling complex displays of this type meant that the aluminum frame had to be constructed in sections measuring about six feet long. Every connection point was marked so installers could put it together like a puzzle using pushpin technology.

The hallway flags were made from flag material so they could be simply slipped onto the banner stands and seen from both sides. Display banners were hung on custom stands between halls and meeting spaces. The most critical install on site was the heavy, large banners hung from the railings because they had to be securely anchored for safety.

The benefits

Displays made of dye-sublimated fabrics present especially crisp and vibrant images on a substrate that can be handled easily and even laundered if soiled. Because fabric and aluminum are very light, shipping and drayage from the dock to the display floor is far less expensive than traditional hard-sided displays and banners.

Free standing units, such as the arch and the hall banners and flags, can be easily moved and rearranged over the period of an event, giving fresh views every day.

Not only were the graphics well received, more than 500 event attendees enjoyed the color, movement and excitement that came from using fabrics to create unique displays.

Gail Nickel-Kailing, Business Strategies Etc., provides outsourced business planning and marketing services and manages the execution of marketing communications tactics.

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