Trade Shows / 08.31.23 / By Chase Howells

Breaking the Mold for Inline Displays

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At trade shows, the bulk of the exhibit hall is rows of displays lined up one after another, or “inline displays.” Typically these inline spaces are 10×10 and 10×20 in size and have height restrictions that basically keep the display itself being a billboard of sorts along the backline of the booth. We’ve discussed previously how to design the graphics to maximize these billboards, but today we’re going to look at how to design the exhibit structure itself in a way that sets it apart from its neighbors.

In my recent meetings for fall displays, I had multiple clients paint a similar picture of what they were seeing as the norm for booth design in the spring. The described backlit squares (10×10) or rectangles (10×20) with blue graphics (sooooo many brands use blue) and a boxy front counter.

Squares and rectangles make total sense, backlighting these displays is more of an artform than many realize and getting the right throw of light has required specific hard angles to accomplish correctly. They’re also being built out of the many modular frame systems that utilize repeating rectangular frames to create the display. The end product here is a nice looking, portable display that pops. Nothing wrong with that at all. But before we give our aisles over to the European cookie-cutter stall style, let’s utilize opportunities to differentiate.

Here’s are some ways to stand out in the linear spaces:


There are more angles than right angles, and there are other shapes beyond squares. I like to look to the shape(s) contained in the logo and branding of a client and see if it can be built upon. While the below example may be on the extreme end of this, it is a good inspiration piece to figure out how the shapes in your branding can be displayed in a way that sets the booth apart.

Here is a more subtle example:


Many of the “average” displays are very flat along the backwall as well. Since we abide by the height restrictions, the dimensions being referred to here are utilizing the space coming forward off of the backwall into the space. This can be as simple as a canopy, or framing that creates a shadowbox look.

VK-1340 Trade Show Inline Exhibit -- Image 3

Or it could be more intricate like below:

VK-1978 Custom Modular Inline Exhibit -- View 2

Flooring and Furniture

You’re probably noticing this in all of the designs shown so far, but furniture and flooring can be way more exciting than folding tables and carpet. There are ways to further bring your space into brand and create an experience in the space, even in 10x10s. Flooring is offered in many wood, stone and designer looks, and can be raised for additional effect. Rental furniture (we love using CORT, see their catalog here) now is well diversified to really help accent and complete the booth space, and ensure it is comfortable and inviting.

Rental Furniture Package:

Ultimately, linear spaces are not an afterthought for us and don’t need to just be the bare minimum that an exhibitor can get away with. I’ve linked all of the designs above to show that this type of thing exists in our catalog and we are able to really latch onto your brand and create a customized experience for your linear space. It does not have to be over-the-top like some of these may seem, the subtlety of just something like radiused corners, curves or comfy chairs can set you apart from the competition. Living in the block of side-by-side booths is competitive, and we want to help you create an advantage! Contact us to look at how we can help break the mold with your next design!