Design Trends for Trade Shows In 2016

Trade shows count on designs to aide in the overall meeting experience.

In an era where images and information are accessible within seconds, keeping the face-to-face experience with up to date design trends becomes an important goal for both show organizers and exhibitors. For 2016 plan to see a continuation of minimalism, individuality, and warmer tones. Textures, grittiness, and larger customization will gain prominence throughout the year.

Color & Space

Rose Quartz & Serenity – The 2016 colors

The 2016 PANTONE colors of the year are Rose Quartz & Serenity. While there are many predictions we will see neutral colors such as beige and brown make a come-back, trade shows require a strong sense of color in their designs. Expect lighter LED’s than the traditional pallet and an increased focus on complimenting pastels (View the full guide here).

Perhaps unintentionally, clutter has become a major factor within trade show booths. Expect better utilization of booth space to complete the minimalist theme across branding. Keeping feng shui consistent will increase in importance in regards to furniture and prop arrangement. Both color and space will piggyback off each other to set the overall mood of each exhibit.

Deconstruction and Grit

Dirty elements such as this sludge will bring contrast to the clean era of recent.
Dirty elements such as this sludge will bring contrast to the clean era of recent.
Textures that you want to touch.










Simplicity has achieved design prominence to counteract the chaotic lives people live. Last year saw the beginning of strategically placed deconstruction. This includes dirt, grime, twisted colors, and anything that visually represents texture. With so many glossy screens in our lives, a desire to touch, feel, and trigger senses is in high demand. While you won’t see any bizarre materials being used due to drayage costs, details will be added to evoke a more personal feeling.

Wood Shop

Wood returns to focus.
Wood returns to focus.


Slowly but surely, wood finishing, fixtures, and furniture has returned to major retail spaces. These textures create a home-style and warm feel for the visitor. Known as ‘Danish Modern’, 2016 will be the year these return to prominence in trade shows, offering a much needed break from the constant look of steel and aluminum. Don’t expect those materials to go away, but do prepare to feel a more relaxed and retro vibe within exhibit booth environments.

Technology for the Better

Humans and technology in harmony, not contrast.
Humans and technology in harmony, not contrast
Drones provide the modern touch.
Drones provide the modern touch









Decades of the negative technological takeover (I.E. Terminator & Jetsons) have grown tired. We live in the era of accessibility, and trade shows are no different. The second screen lifestyle that brought us tablets and charging stations will continue to increase. Prepare to see them in tandem with the hoe-style décor. Drastic has changed to subtle. The increase in drones and automation systems will also begin to shift from intrusive to inclusive. Instead of dealing with technology in a negative manner, we will see many designs working in harmony to make our lives better such as personal assistants, body prosthetic’s, and 3D printing.


The rise of custom furniture.
The rise of custom furniture.

And speaking of 3D printing…

Many trade shows are filled with the same rental furniture, pop-up’s, and décor. Thanks to mainstream adaption of 3D printing and design, 2016 will be the year of trade show customization. Specific pieces will be able to be curated cheaply and change from show-to-show. This is a major design trend to watch as it could disrupt the vendor industries over coming years.

Design trends with trade shows will only continue to evolve. It would be wise to include some of these trends in your next exhibit refresh. However it’s important to remember not every trend is right for your brand. Maintain cohesiveness with your established branding colors and guidelines to avoid a visual clash.


What design trends are you most excited about? Comment below!

Some information taken from 2016 Getty Images predictions . View more information on 2016 design trends.


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One thought on “Design Trends for Trade Shows In 2016

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