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In beautiful Bloomsbury WC1 lies an essential source of information and inspiration for the built environment. The Building Centre lies on Store Street and has established itself as a hugely important forum for Architects, Planners, Specifiers and students.

The basement of The Building Centre is host to an impressive display of independent exhibition spaces where suppliers of a wide variety of materials, technologies and components are invited to exhibit in a semi permanent space.

Sika is the leading supplier of sealants for the construction industry and provides solutions from the basement to the roof. Comfort Floor is one of those products that Sika is keen to promote – a solvent free, low VOC emission certified, elastic, self-smoothing, PUR resin floor with an impressive range of applications. Ignition was invited by Sika to develop the exhibition space displaying the Comfort Floor range and Hygiene wall coatings. Ignition was very pleased to be delivering the creative concept, construction and project management but the application of the Sika product required a specialist contractor. Senso Floors were brought in to deliver the technical expertise and skill to apply the wall and floor finish.

After just two weeks on site the stand was completed and last week was unveiled to the public. The dramatic design and juxtaposition of material finishes, graphics and light create a space at The Building Centre that is unique. The video presentation created by Lightworkphotos and displayed on a Samsung display screen is informative and visually stimulating and with the inclusion of an iPad with the three Sika Apps more detailed data can be discovered at leisure while sitting on the fabulous Icon stool.

Well worth a visit.

retail signage for exterior face on Happy pills shop

As we are suffering from the miserable, often sub zero temperature here in the UK I am finding my mind wondering to warmer times last summer when we were at In-Cosmetics 2012 held Barcelona when we weren’t working hard we were enjoying tasty tapas and fantastic design.

This was my first time visiting Barcelona, I was expecting to experience a rich design past with Gaudi influences all over the city however I found so much more. I was stunned, design is everywhere for everyone to enjoy…and all for free!

Happy pills – Its not only the ‘Selfridges’ of retail that indulge in fantastic design with stunning interior environments, creative retail spaces are everywhere in Barcelona. One I fell in love with was Happy pills, a surprising little shop designed to encourage adults to chase their ailments away with the sweet taste of candy…sugar pills! This shop is located in the narrowest retail space I have been in yet its exciting concept and great design and fantastic graphics provided a fantastic experience, I cant wait to go back…need help with the Monday blues!

Living apartments – this is the type of design that must enrich peoples lives, walking past this otherwise boring building you turn the corner to discover a beautiful cascading green wall full of life, providing the buildings residents with strawberries fresh from their balconies. An unexpected scene in a built up area.

Urban space art – Unusual and unexpected street art is everywhere in Barcelona and it really does have the power to make you smile, Barcelona beech is a perfect example of this and perhaps the seaside resorts in the UK should take notes, we have great sculptural artists in the UK see some of our home grown inspirational sculptures on our pintrest page.

In-Cosmetics 2013 is taking place at he moment in Paris and we are installing a brand new stand for our clients Vivimed Labs! I am sure we will have a blog coming soon with more tails of our travels!

paper airpales suspended in retail window display

We are definitely not vain here at Ignition with the average attire consisting of jeans and a baggy jumper….But we cannot deny the influence fashion as a whole has on the design industry, including us.

Recently we pitched a design concept for a really exciting festival installation….fingers crossed we will be blogging about this in the future!! Part of our preparation for this was having a wonder down the high street to identify the retail trends flowing through the high street.

So here’s a few retail trends we identified.

Focus on paper, paper and card are key materials being used in shop display designs, ranging from fun pop cardboard cut outs to whimsical paper airplanes. With Louis Vuitton leading the way with the use suspended paper ‘flying’ through the air carrying one of those bags us ladies would love to own! With beautiful lighting this window display is simple but effective, captures passers by…even men!

Keep it raw, last year there was a hint of fairground circus madness in the high street retail design, window displays were busting with colour and shapes from the 80’s in comparison this year, simple stripped back raw materials are playing a key role, with lots of raw chip, and polished concrete, a favorite of mine featuring as Stripped back metal and scaffolding bars are being given a new purpose in life being use as clothes hangers in many stores at the moment, see our printrest board for creative use of ‘keep it raw’ materials

Nature is taking over, the spring collection is here (not that you can tell in Manchester) retail interiors are responding with yards of astro turf featuring tree stumps and fairytale props are creating enchanting window displays, the high street names are following Mulberry’s lead from last year.

Inspiration is everywhere, doing a little window shopping in the mean time is a bonus!


Exhibitions are big business. Where else will your company be exposed to such a high quality concentration of motivated potential clients shopping for your service? This year 63,500 delegates visited Spring Fair at the NEC. What an opportunity! So, is it enough to buy your floor space and show up?

At Ignition we believe the answer is: absolutely not. On average, exhibition hall floor space costs exhibitors £500 per square metre – you could cover your floor in gold leaf with a protective glass layer for less than this cost! We find it astonishing how often the floor is overlooked in stand design and ends up covered by an unfortunate cheap monochrome carpet.

Don’t be afraid of colour! Bold use of colour will draw attention to your stand and the floor is the perfect area to achieve this without distracting from products and information. Introducing corporate colour is a perfect opportunity to strengthen your company’s brand identity in the stand design.

See our Vivimed In-Cosmetics design as an example of this.

On larger stands, being creative with your flooring is not only of aesthetic value but is also very practical. By changing the floor colour or texture you can guide people around your stand, delineating particular areas and creating zones of interest to draw them into the heart of the activity. A great example of this is our design for International Water Association where the floor is designed to direct the traffic of delegates through the stand, ‘a path to follow’, taking them to different zones of activities which were also defined with a change in floor texture and colour.

Every part of your exhibition stand has to work really hard for you – so think creative! Whether it’s incorporating a piece of optical illusion art, funky graphics, unusual textures or simple company logos and shapes, the floor design can be used as a strong marketing tool or just a bit of fun, a talking point. After all, the key to success is to be memorable and stick in the minds of all those delegates.

See some examples we love on our creative floor inspirations pinterest board

Stamp showing FSC logo

The exhibition industry has a notorious reputation for wastefulness with stands and many of their fixtures and fittings being skipped at the end of an event. But now things are looking up and the industry is giving itself a much needed green-over. A recent report out by Waste & Resources Action Programme (WRAP) and in in conjunction with the events industry as part of work on the European Pathway to Zero Waste project (EPOW) suggests that the industry should aim to reduce the amount of waste sent to landfil to zero by the end of the decade.

This is a very welcome development for people in the industry like Lewis Horton co-founder of Ignition, a forward thinking and environmentally responsible exhibition design company. In the last decade he has seen a real shift in attitude: ’There’s an increasing emphasis on long term thinking and coupling sustainability with creativity.’

Lewis recommends that all exhibition designers and builders adopt some basic good habits: his top five basics are:
– use carpet tiles or a product such as Reeds Evo-Velour Recyclable carpets and this will save thousands of tons of landfill a year.
– Hire re-usable system flooring
– Think hard about materials. Aluminium is light and easy to recycle. Bamboo is beautiful, versatile and sustainable. Timber should come from a sustainable source.
Use low-wattage lighting or LED energy efficient lighting.
– Consider the paints and finishes you use and choose ones with a low impact on the environment (low VOC products).

‘This is all good stuff’, says Lewis, ‘but it’s obvious common sense and should be standard – we can go a lot further than this. At Ignition we’ve been thinking very hard about the invisible side of our job and how the way we work impacts on the environment.’ A lot of exhibition work involves transport and travel and this, of course, is not exactly great for the environment. It can’t be avoided so it has to be minimised and the way to do this is through what Lewis describes as ‘keen project management.’ Don’t overlook the impact of sloppy project management. Rigorous and efficient planning means you can sea-freight and not air-freight. Attention to detail means you don’t have last minute hitches, there aren’t extra people to fly out at increased financial and environmental cost. Even if you’ve designed an all-singing, all-dancing Superstand that’s totally biodegradable and entirely recyclable, if your project management is pants then it’s likely to have a ridiculously heavy carbon footprint.

Efficient forward planning is also worked into the design at Ignition. It’s not just about what a stand looks like but how it can be dismantled, stored and re-installed. This means that Lewis has been inspired by high street companies such as IKEA with their neat and clever flat-packs: ‘At Ignition, we now design robust bespoke exhibition stands that will flat-pack into a space a fraction of their size – which minimises transportation and storage requirements and makes their re-use easy.’ This long- life approach is a million miles away from the throw-away culture of the recent past.

Like many other design companies Ignition tries to support their local economy and find environmentally responsible suppliers and craftsmen. There’s also a feeling of optimism about initiatives such as ‘Grown in Britain’ which aims to revitalise the timber industry in the UK, improving woodland in this country and making it easier to source local wood.

Sustainability is going mainstream in the exhibition industry. And for companies like Ignition the good news is that customers are now attracted by an environmentally responsible service and will frequently demand that a green approach be embedded into the design. It looks like what’s good for the planet could also be good business for ethical design companies.