To help celebrate 100 years of existence, IFAI designed an exhibition—printed on fabric (of course!)
By Bruce N. Wright
The Industrial Fabrics Association International (IFAI), publisher of this magazine, held its annual convention in Boston, in early November. The event marked the culmination of a yearlong celebration of the trade association’s 100 years of service to the industry, a diverse group of trades and manufactures that have seen tremendous changes over the century.
To highlight the significant innovations and key players throughout IFAI’s history, a display of historic photos, objects and documents were assembled from the archives and on loan from members, and put on view at the convention. Some items were the real thing, displayed in secure Perspex cases, but many were reproduced in digital graphics printed on fabric.
IFAI marketing designer, Dan Donovan, designed the exhibit and the graphics panels, laying out a 20 feet by 50 feet area marked by eight 8-foot-tall square kiosks placed at the four corners and at 20 feet from the ends creating a rhythmic cadence of spaces. In the center of the area, a 15-foot-long “s”-curve display wall bisected the space in both directions. Fabric Images, Elgin, Ill., did the digital printing and panel fabrication, as well as constructed the free-standing wall in the center of the exhibit used to present a composite photo collage of a timeline of IFAI’s history.
“The design evolved from a smaller booth size to the final 20 by 50 footprint,” says Donovan. “The problem was how to fill this area economically with an informative design covering 100 years of content. The kiosk concept was a frame module that the exhibit company already had and we worked with Fabric Images to develop banners that would hang on the four sides of each unit.”
On most of the kiosks, full height fabric graphics panels were hung to present a montage of historic ads, photos and promotions from the past up to the present. Visual and textual content was grouped roughly by decade with one decade per kiosk. The curved freestanding timeline wall in the center presented a sequential history of IFAI from 1912 to 2012. “As the booth area was an ‘island,’ visitors entered from any point,” says Donovan, “which helped us to identify content that would be self-contained on each kiosk.”
To ensure that the gently s-shaped central wall would be structurally stable in the high-traffic area, Fabric Images built the frame structure using one of its patented aluminum tube frame systems. The system uses a “pillow case” of printed fabric that slips over the framework that is supported on wide steel plate bases. A zipper along the bottom edge of the slipcase draws the casing tight, giving additional stability.
Fabric used was 120-inch wide Poly Stretch 5 from Herculite. “After viewing the Poly Stretch,” says Fabric Images account leader Linda Tellez, “it was recommended because we felt the make-up of the fabric allowed for vivid imagery and precise fit.” The fabric was certified for NFAP 701 Small-scale fire retardant. Inks used were standard dye sublimation inks on a Mimaki dye sub printer. Graphic files were prepared using Adobe Photoshop and InDesign.