Why Exhibit Sightlines Planning Matters

If you’ve ever been to any kind of street fair or carnival – or spent three minutes in Las Vegas (a quickly taken, very tame shot of which is shown in a photo from my hotel room below), you will understand what I am about to say.

Close your eyes and picture one of those scenes. Look around. Where is your focus drawn?

The answer is nowhere…and everywhere…all at the same time. The experience is overwhelming from a visual perspective.

This can be a great thing – a larger-than-life, exciting experience. But it isn’t a wise way to be purposeful with your marketing message.

Whether discussing a tradeshow exhibit or a permanent showroom, planning sightlines are a crucial part of the spatial design process. This includes what we intend the viewer to see – and almost more importantly, where we want their eyes to rest.

Like an arrow, areas of visual rest guide a viewer’s eyes to the area of focus. If the space has messaging shouting from every available spot, the ability to focus on a target is removed.

In print and web design, the ability to control the visual increases dramatically because the design space itself is finite, such as an advertisement in a magazine, an 8½” x 11” sell sheet, or the computer screen. Spatial design is a different matter.

The area of focus is heavily affected by the variations of a 3D environment and the actual viewpoint of the intended recipient. A specific placement of feet, the tilt or turn of a head – all of these affect the visual path, and the ultimate focal point.

Good spatial design takes things like juxtaposition, stacked visuals, different planes, and structural blockages into account to maximize the effectiveness of the marketing focus.

Completely separately from the branding and graphics needed to create messaging for the spaces we create, we design the space itself. We combine functionality, scale, and most importantly, good sightlines and areas of focus for the message to create a space in which we make the most of our time with the target audience.

The next time you are planning a space, stand back and take a look around. Is what you actually see what you intended to have seen? If not, adjust! The success of your exhibit or event is worth it!

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Sharon Baird

Director, Exhibits and Events