Sharp recognized that it hadn’t done enough in past years to differentiate itself from the competition at CES, so this year the brand decided do something different and bold. Sharp didn’t want to reinvent itself, just refresh its image and put a new spin on its CES experience.
Thinc Design accepted the client’s challenge, creating a new exhibit that refreshed the brand while taking cues from the key messages Sharp wanted to convey to attendees.
The experience began at the entrance to the footprint, with three islands featuring tall towers with illuminated frames and embedded Sharp monitors within.
“On the front end we really wanted to make some pronounced statements, and have it remain open, as well. There were three main components: Improving Our Lives, Caring for Our Environment and Enabling Our Future. These were distilled out of their corporate mantra, and each of the islands were tailored for these messages,” says Thinc Design design director Steven Shaw.
The frames rose up and were topped with slatted wood headers. The materials chosen included glossy black finishes, rear-illuminated framing, brushed aluminum and wooden slats with fabric that was softly illuminated.
These island towers were lined up along the long side of the booth’s footprint, which was a new presentation for Sharp.
“They were a bit hesitant to make the long side of the footprint their main aisle; they had always done the short side. But the way we opened it up with the three island punctuation points really let us command that aisle—you could see through the islands and into the footprint,” Shaw says.
In addition, content on the vertical video walls in the islands corresponded to content on a large, inverted pyramid media screen mounted at the back of the footprint, tying the media messaging together nicely.
Once inside, visitors found themselves in a clean, upscale lounge environment at the center of the exhibit. This area tied in more wood and slatted walls, with a custom lighting fixture that reused existing disc structures from Sharp’s exhibit inventory and dozens of Sharp LED light bulbs.
“It was like an oasis in the sea of CES. It was a place where your eyes visually rested as well. We actually had to add seating to accommodate all the people over the course of the show,” says Thinc designer Oronde Wright.
To the side of the footprint, a Sharp 4K theater space demonstrated the hottest new super-high-def technology solutions from the brand.
The queue that lined up for the 4K presentations was next to an interactive whiteboard presentation area, so it allowed people to observe how those products worked.
“Even though they were on a queue there was still stimulation,” Wight says.
On the other side of the exhibit were lifestyle areas featuring Sharp products in kitchen and living room settings. Shaw says the client didn’t want product everywhere, they were more focused on how they were expressing themselves to attendees than pushing all of their products to the front. Sharp also didn’t want graphics everywhere, so there was a refrained use of logos and text in the booth.
The exhibit’s reception area was improved over years past, with design cues taken from upscale hotel environments.
“It was very clean, with brushed metal, glass and textured wall finishes,” Wright says. Monitors behind the desk displayed soothing images of Japanese watercolor paintings, which also spoke to Sharp’s identity as a Japanese company.
While the show was a success, Shaw points out that designers always need to be quick on their feet, as his team had to tackle an unexpected challenge during the show.
“On the first day of the show, when the hall lights went down, all of our accent lighting including the illuminated pedestals and frames were all bright enough that they were competing with the monitors. Fortunately, we had the dimmer switches so we were able to dial it all down, but I think that’s really important—being able to control these things on the spot, because you never know what the lighting conditions are going to be inside the hall,” Shaw says.