Thursday, September 1, 2011

Trade Show Booth Inspiration!

I've been thinking about having a custom trade show booth created for a while now but keep putting it off.  It's a pretty big project.  At the moment I've been using various rolling racks, dressing screens and tables for my display which is in my mind a little lacking.  I want to give customers the full experience as if they're entering the mini Paper People boutique.  Everytime I do a trade show I get asked by multiple people if it's my first show (no, I've been running my buiness for 10 years).  So it's either because I look young or because my booth set up looks amateur . . .

So to complement my selection of reclaimed vintage clothing and accessories I thought it would be SO COOL to have a booth built from reclaimed furniture and building materials!

And actually, it's the perfect time of year to be undertaking a project like this since it's moving season.  Living in downtown Toronto it's not uncommon to see abandonned furniture from someone's move sitting out at the curb.  But being the Sept 1st apartment shuffle I'm really striking gold.  I spent 3 hours last night roaming through residential areas and managed to collect 4-5 different types of dresser drawers, 1 night table, 1 folding table with turned legs, 3 head boards, 1 large vintage pictures frame and some vintage baseboard scraps.

My idea is to make a modular stacking dresser out of random mismatched drawers and some sort of matching cash desk that also stacks up.  If a cash desk isn't needed the stacking compartments can be turned the opposite way and used for display.

There were many unknowns when I decided to embark on this project, the two main questions being:  where will we get the materials (solved) and who will build these exciting new fixtures for me?

The ever helpful girls at Fresh Collective had lots of suggestions and after consulting them I decided to split the project up and go with two designers.  Tricia of Spruce Clothing and Danielle of Zippan Designs suggested Lucas Baker.     Lucas designed a new trade show booth to showcase Danielle's jewellery line last winter.  Lucas specializes in custom wood working so I knew he could do something really special for me.

My colleague Shannon of Things Aren't So Terrible suggested her business partner and husband Scott of Able Creates.  Scott and Shannon do all sorts of things including silkscreening (for their own business as well as custom designs for other businesses), graphic design & web design but I had no idea they were also builders! 

So after meeting with both Lucas and Scott we generated many great ideas and I decided to divide up the project between the two of them.

So back to my adventure lastnight in collecting castoff furniture.  After collecting all those treasures I was so excited that I still couldn't sleep so I decided to google upcycle furniture to get some ideas.  And actually I found a lot of great things and dressers just like the one I'm hoping to have made.  Here are some of the best ones I found:

I love the antiqued, distressed finish on the dresser (left)!  I also collected a bunch of vintage and antique pictures frames so I can showcase some of our great photography at the show.  I thought the display to the right was a great way to display collections of pictures although we will probably just hang them in the end.  Unfortunately in my excitement of collecting inspiration images I forgot to bookmark some of the artists' pages.  Hopefully I can come back and do that later.

Right cabinet by Thomas Wold , left table by Valentin Loellmann
The cabinet on the left is one of my favourites.  I love how it combines the drawers where you can tuck away little treasures with the open spaces that would be great for displaying merchandise.  After collecting all those head boards with the turned bars I was racking my brain over what could be done with them.  This table on the right is a perfect example.  What I'd like to do is take my tiered end table, replace the legs or add a few extras and then replace the plain bars with the turned ones from the head board.

Left cabinet by Thomas Wold, right dresser by Rupert Blanchard 
 The piece on the left incorporates a mirror which would be great for trying on hats.  The dresser on the right is very close to what I had envisioned for the dresser I want to have built.  It won't have as many drawers and it will be modular so it can be stacked in different ways and boxes can be added or taken away but the overall aesthetic is definitely the look I want.

Both pieces by SchubLaden

More beautiful mismatched drawer cabinets . . .

Left dresser by Rupert Blanchard, right upcycled door cabinet by Chris Ruhe
In sourcing materials for this project, Scott suggested we use some reclaimed doors.  My dad's cousin happens to have a knack for refurbishing old furniture and also collecting more than she can use.  I thought I would give her a call to see if she had any leftovers and she offered me some old doors.  The piece on the right is a really striking use of upcycled doors.  I don't imagine we'll do anything that complex but it certainly is inspiring!

Stay tuned as I'll have more posts to come about our exciting work for the changerooms and rack fixtures!


  1. Jennifer, I was on your site reading up about you because I'll be co-hosting your upcoming Fashion on Friday. I am so excited to see you're going to create your materials from reclaimed wood. My husband (@aDOORabledesign) has been collecting old doors and wood from our walks around the City. I'm sending him this blog for inspiration! Upcycled materials are amazing!

  2. How is your trade show booth project coming along?