Biophilic Design in Trade Show Displays

Nature-based trade show displays make sense if your company sells organic beverages or products made from all-natural materials, but what if your business is selling software, or office furniture, or even consulting services? Is there a compelling argument in support of biophilic design in B2B trade show booths?

Human behavior studies would seem to indicate that there is.

This biophilic design exhibit was displayed by Interface, Inc. at Greenbuild 2014. 

Positive Effects of Biophilia on Humans

Ever since 2005, when a study published in the Journal of Forestry revealed that shoppers would be willing to pay up to 25% more for merchandise at retail stores that were situated along a lush, green, tree-lined street, retailers and mall developers have sought to capitalize on the human being’s attraction to nature by bringing the outdoors in.

A similar report led by Professor Sir Cary Cooper revealed that biophilic design in the workplace had measurable positive effects on employees, including:

  • An increased sense of wellbeing
  • An improvement in productivity
  • An enhanced level of creativity
  • An increased likelihood of positive moods and emotions

So there you have it: Adding nature-based elements to any space creates an environment full of relaxed, happy people who are willing to spend 25% more money for goods and services than they would elsewhere.

But while it’s a fairly easy thing to design a retail or office space with natural lighting, indoor greenery, and modest waterfall features, incorporating that same degree of biophilic design into an out-of-town trade show exhibit can be challenging, if not impossible.

Practical Solutions for Greening Up Your Trade Show Display

In biophilic design, every effort is made to appeal to a visitor’s sense of sight, sound, and touch. At trade shows, of course, there are limitations on both the noise level and the types of sound that we’re allowed to project from our booths due to their proximity to neighboring booths. Fortunately, however, there are a fair number of practical solutions for exhibitors who wish to enhance the visual and tactile appeal of their displays.

Lighted Fabric Displays

As we noted in a previous blog article, humans are drawn to light like moths to a flame. And when we combine a light source with nature-based design elements, the effect is truly magnetic.

Take a look at the backlit fabric pop up display below. The beautiful thing is, even if you’re not in the business of travel and tourism, you can still adopt this particular advertising strategy for your backwall. In fact, almost any type of standalone electronic device – for example, a smartphone or a digital camera – would look extremely intriguing when photographed against a sandy beach, or sitting on a rock near a waterfall, or perched upon a fallen log in a fog-laden forest. The possibilities are endless.

Combining products and natural landscape photography in a backlit fabric pop up display is an easy way for trade show marketers to capitalize on the human desire for light and nature.

Natural-Fiber Furnishings

When outfitting a new trade show display or replacing old pieces for an existing exhibit, you can instantly upgrade the biophilic appeal by simply choosing furnishings made from nature-based or all-natural fibers, which can help prospects to subconsciously feel more comfortable and “at home” in your booth.

Examples include:

  • Roll-up flooring made from bamboo, jute, wool blends, or even faux grass
  • Ottomans, floor cushions, and accent pillows made from rattan, felted wool, or other natural fibers
  • Tables and chairs made from wood or faux wood materials
AFR Trade Show Furnishings offers a nice selection of trade show accessories made from natural or natural-look materials.
Viva Terra offers unique, natural-looking décor like this faux-stone ottoman made entirely of felted wool.

Accent Pieces

If your trade show booth features product display shelves, you have even more opportunities to add biophilic design elements to your exhibit. Lighted tabletop water fountains, for example, are compact and sturdy enough to be packed in carry-on luggage, and they add visual interest to product shelving or trade show counters.

Similarly, desktop terrariums filled with artificial plants are lightweight and can be packed in shipping cases with a little bubble wrap for extra protection.

Modish offers tiny desktop terrariums as small as 2-1/2” x 7-1/2”, which can be placed on your product shelves for variety. Faux succulents, moss and foliage can be purchased from World Market

Use Mother Nature to Enhance Your Brand

As you can see, there are plenty of ways to add biophilic design elements to your trade show booth without going over budget or creating problems with packing and shipping. Using lighted, nature-based product photography, natural-fiber furnishings, and small accent pieces, you can easily “green up” your display while still staying true to your corporate branding.




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