Eco Trade Show Booth Design Idea


Name of project: US Forest Community Exhibit for IUFRO.

Client: US Forest Service

The project was completed in partnership by Boothster and Nichols and Associates. Boothster provided all design and fabrication. Nichols provided staging, storage, and government contract managing services.

10 word company descriptions:

Boothster is an exhibit design and manufacturing company. Nichols & Associates is an event management and staffing company.

Design Challenges

In October of 2014, the US hosted IUFRO, the first international exhibition on Forestry held in the USA in over 40 years. With regards to sustainability, it was imperative that the US provide leadership for the leading researchers, academics and industry in Forestry. The exhibit was to be unmatched in terms of green properties.

Boothster is a design firm with an unheard of passion for sustainability in the exhibit design industry. If Mother Nature were here to speak to us, she would say that there is no other design/build firm that can match Boothster’s track record for sustainable exhibits over the past seven years. Our philosophy is that it is impossible to completely eliminate short lived exhibition displays. In fact, we embrace this cold reality and believe that the problem is not mass quantity of wasted exhibits, but that exhibit materials are typically not biodegradable. “Recyclable” is OK, but is not the answer, because the reality is that most materials never get recycled. Best case scenario, the material gets recycled for a couple of uses, and then ends up in a landfill. We don’t believe exhibit companies get a pass for merely using “recyclable” materials. We believe the answer is in using biodegradable and non toxic materials that, through natural degradation, biodegrade back into the eco system. Our ultimate goal, is to create exhibits that are made with 100% biodegradable and non toxic materials, and minimize the fossil fuels required for transport. We have achieved as much as 99% biodegradability on past projects. For the US Forest Service project, we achieved about 90% biodegradability with a few recyclable materials that we will ensure really are recycled.

Like a cherry tree that produces thousands of seeds that are “wasted” ie that never go on to produce another cherry tree, exhibits can be mass products sustainably if they are made with biodegradable and non toxic materials.

Design Solutions

While are passionate about sustainability in all of our projects, it can never be at the sacrifice of good trade show booth design. The green materials must be chosen and forged into displays that exceed client goals and expectations. Moreover, the design should no less than engage and inspire people on a transcendent level.

As we dug into weeks of full time research into wood species and products derived over the past 100 plus years in the United States, we were overwhelmed with possibilities. As with every project, we came up with a architectural, graphic and textural language that served as an outline that would allow the correct trade show booth design choices to be made. The language we employed was sustainable modernism, and featured a palette of fall colors, and warm, comfy hues that invited people to engage in the space.

Materials such as Oriented Strand Board (OSB), a zero waste wood composite material were used to create aspirational, dramatic architectural features.

Cross Laminated Timber (CLT) from beetle infested timber, was used for it’s eco friendly properties, beauty and potential for changing the building trades industry.

Cow Manure Based Corrugated Panels were combined with soy glue NAUF (no added u. formaldehyde) black walnut and wood/plastic composite panels made by the University of Idaho sustainable business program, and warm LED lights to create coffee tables that provided an innovative spin on the campfire look and feel.

In total, we used 28 wood species and products in the US Forest Exhibit. All materials are biodegradable unless otherwise noted:

  • Oriented Strand Board
  • Cross Laminated Timber (from beetle infested timber)
  • Laminated Douglas Fir (glue lam)
  • Laminated Southern Pine (from the oldest glue lam building in US)
  • Ash Baseball Bats (from Major League Baseball)
  • Parallam
  • Purebond Soy Glue Plywood
  • Paper Tubes
  • Pine I Beams (made from forest fuel thinnings, developed at University of Idaho)
  • Nanocellulose
  • Dye Impregnated Poplar (developed at University of Idaho)
  • Corrugated Ecor Panels (made from cow manure)
  • CorrDrum (cardboard oil drum from International Paper)
  • Recycled Carpet and Seat Pads (made from PET bottles)
  • Recycled Counter Tops (made from PET bottles infused with flowers)
  • Red Cedar
  • Maple
  • Black Walnut
  • Douglas Fir
  • Red Mulberry
  • Hackberry
  • Yellow Birch
  • Bigtooth Aspen
  • Black Locust
  • Ash
  • Tulip Poplar
  • Black Cherry
  • Poplar

  • To be completely transparent, some of the woods we used were heavy; yet they were obviously integral to the Trade Show design of the US Forestry exhibit. To counter these weight issues, and also reduce shipping cost, we reduced our transportation volume by 50%, truck fuel by 50%, air fuel by 60% and overall exhibit weight by 3375 lbs. By eliminating all shipping crates, we were able to ship the entire 40x50 exhibit in one truck, instead of two. Wooden crates are approximately 225 lbs each (not including exhibit properties inside), and we figured we eliminated 15 of them. Truck fuel was cut in half by using one instead of two trucks. We also drove 3 of our 5 set up staff in the truck, reducing our air fuel use by 60%.