Best of Show, Booth Design at Greenbuild: Kohler And Living Machine


images credit Lloyd Alter

The point of having a booth at Greenbuild is to attract attention, and like with everything else, design matters. I immediately fell in love with the Kohler booth; In some ways it is so 2005 green, with its recycled materials and kraft paper signage, but it is also really well done, beautifully proportioned, designed with style and humour. I definitely thought it was best of show, and evidently was not alone; it also got the "highest award level for its sustainable booth design and construction" from the US Green Building Council.

different lines of fixtures were assembled in zones that created a lovely enclosed space.


seating is made from shipping pallets;

Signage is all printed on Kraft paper. There were no handouts, not even USB keys; the only presskit is online. They don't realize that the more gigs on the USB key, the more I like the product. There was also no NUMI toilet; I asked why, and was told that it wasn't green enough. (Of course, it is very green as I noted in The Kohler Numi: The Perfect Toilet For Your Living Room)

They weren't hurt by their location on the above grade portion of the convention centre, which is now bathed in sunlight that reflects off the shiny new Ritz Carleton hotel to the north. Other notable features noted in their press release:

  • Fitting all displays into one 53' truck to limit transportation costs.
  • Building structures from reclaimed barn wood, portions of which will be reused at other tradeshows.
  • Donating KOHLER products displayed in the booth; other building materials were designed to be repackaged for return shipment.
  • Using low-VOC paints and adhesives
  • Printing signage with biodegradable UV or soy-based inks
  • Eliminating the distribution of promotional materials in the booth; no print materials of any kind.
  • Constructing booth seating areas from palettes topped with cushions made from recycled fabric.
  • Constructing countertops from recycled glass or paperstone.
Honourable Mention

Honourable mention in booth design has to go to Living Machine, a wastewater treatment system that will be the subject of another post. Their entire booth was a backdrop that fits into a little drum, too big for carry-on but the size of checked baggage, two iPads, and a pile of tiny 1 gig USB keys. (They should emulate Kohler and lose them, there is really no need for this anymore and I have enough of them now) I have personally set up exhibits in this convention centre, and it is just horrible; these guys can just walk their booth out the front door.

The iPad appears to be a serious trend in booth design; last year when it was new, it was just another presentation medium, often stuck on the wall. This year, exhibitors are using in in very innovative and unusual ways. I look forward to when manufacturers start giving them out instead of USB keys.

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