Designers create the killer environments for clients to get their message across a broad experience, but its up to the build team to make it a reality. Detailers have long been responsible for bringing a design to life while keeping budget and creative vision intact. From sourcing and obtaining materials, to diagramming how a footprint will break down for shipping, to counting the number of bolts needed to keep an environment together, detailers handle all the, well, details. A look at how the detailer’s role is evolving, what they need to do their job, and how designers and detailers can work together more efficiently when creating that killer solution.
Materials. As budgets and economic realities have changed over recent years, so has the way detailers create exhibits.
“We are evolving from hardwood and steel construction to lightweight fabrics and lighter structures now. Our clients are hedging towards more lightweight materials—easy elements, pop-up type structures—while still getting the same big bang for the buck that we had in the past with the large wood and steel structures,” says Hargrove detailer Greg Jones.
The use of aluminum extrusion exhibit systems gives designers and clients some affordable flexibility, all in a reusable, eco-friendly package. Champion Exposition Services production manager Frank West says clients are looking for green solutions, reusable materials and things that are good for the environment. “We use aluminum extrusion systems and it gets used thousands of times over its lifetime,” West says.
ALVIRO Consulting president Alex Shtylman has seen the detailing end of the business evolve over the past 20 years, and has noticed a variety of new materials and products becoming rather popular rather quickly.
“For ceilings, I have been using GetaForm laminates and UltraBoard foam core panels. For countertops, people are now going with laminated plywood or masonite, and for insert materials, panels from Sintra—and Komatex, which is a bit shinier than Sintra. It’s based on client preference: Some people like a more shiny finish, some prefer matte. The budget usually dictates what the solution is,” Shtylman says.
Tools. CAD programs have become indispensable tools for detailers, but finding a software solution that provides great renderings and super-detailed engineering information is a big challenge, and most detailers use a second software program to keep track of the nuts and bolts.
“We use AutoCAD and the Exhibitware software from Malekko systems, which works seamlessly with AutoCAD. Before we had the Exhibitware software we were counting pieces by hand, so it’s really streamlined our process. It allows us to get a complete, accurate drawing back to the client quicker than we ever had before,” West says.
Hargrove’s high-end printing capabilities have allowed the detailing and build teams a little flexibility, as well. “If we can’t get our hands on a laminate in time, we can print a laminate image and mount it on Cintra base and make it look like the laminate is supposed to,” Jones says.
The more communication, the better the end result for everybody, so designers and detailers should be on the same page at the earliest stages of a project.
“In the past, it was really almost two separate departments. The design team would do their thing and we’d get the design and have to figure out how to make it come to life. Now it has evolved, with more communication before they even start the design. They start asking questions and for our input more often, which is huge and they don’t have to go back to the client with a lot of changes to the original concept,” West says.
Jones agrees that a little early cooperation can go a long way, especially as timelines shrink.
“Getting us involved the process sooner is always better than later, because we can talk about things like how it should be crated, shipped, and assembled on the show floor,” Jones says.
It can get hectic at times, but bringing a designer’s concept to life on the floor and creating a happy client makes it all worth it.
“To be a detailer you have to like challenge. Every day you walk in and you never know what’s going to happen, what’s going to be needed—but like the old cliché says, the show must go on,” Jones says.