How to make your ugly exhibition shell scheme look amazing


If you’ve ever exhibited at an event, or even if you have ever attended any kind of exhibition, you will certainly have come across a shell scheme. It is the most common type of booth that a business can book at a trade show. But in a battle for show-visitor attention, how can you make an impact with a standard shell scheme booth?

The first thing to say is that booking a shell scheme is not by any means a bad option – it’s what you do with the space that makes the difference. Shell schemes are an excellent choice for smaller businesses on a budget, and in many cases might be preferable to a space only option.

If you choose a space only, you get exactly that – an area of floor where you have to provide everything yourself. But you obviously have more freedom in terms of what you can do with your stand. Having no limitation on how you can use your area means it is much easier to be creative with your stand design and get your business noticed.

However, shell schemes have their advantages. If you’re new to exhibiting then a shell scheme is a cost-effective and easy way to test the water without having to take too much of a risk. As shell schemes include stand walls, lighting, carpet, furniture and electrics, they are the exhibiting equivalent of an all-inclusive holiday package.

But you’d be wrong to think the world of shell schemes is only for small businesses on a tight budget. Quite often you’ll also see larger companies using them as well. Don’t think that just because you’re exhibiting with a shell scheme you’re going to look like the unwanted guest at a wedding that no-one wants to talk to.

Don’t Get Boxed in – what everyone with a shell scheme does 

Essentially, a shell scheme is a box-style design, made up of aluminium poles holding all the infil panels together. In its natural state, it looks . . . well, like a box. And as all the shell schemes are next to each other, it means you will be surrounded by lot of other identical-looking boxes. It’s all very bland and generic.

As the whole point of an exhibition is to distinguish yourself and draw in the crowds then this can pose a bit of a problem.

So what do most exhibitors do with their shell scheme? Some will stick up a few posters and position a couple of roller banners at the front of their booth. This means they will be exhibiting with a lot of blank space left on the wall – a real waste of an opportunity. Don’t do this. This is the equivalent of turning up to a job interview in a smart shirt and tie while wearing tracksuit bottoms and grubby trainers.

Many exhibitors will simply opt for shell scheme graphics. Although this at least provides you with a branded environment, as these graphics sit between the frames it means they are broken up by the aluminium poles. This is one of the main limitations with a shell scheme booth…  the vertical aluminium pole construction just isn’t the best structure for adding graphics.

One way to offset this is to cover the inside of the booth with seamless shell scheme graphics. This is certainly a step up from the basic shell scheme graphics, as it hides the unsightly shell scheme structure.

But the trouble with this option is that the seamless shell scheme graphics don’t always sit very well on the shell scheme walls. If the structure isn’t absolutely square and level then there will be ripples and creases on the graphics wall. Even if you manage to avoid this, you’re still only left with flat branded walls without any design features, which is hardly the most inspiring way to exhibit.

Another option is to use simple pop up frames, which can sit in front of the shell scheme walls. If you choose a good quality pop up, then your graphics will look professional. But the main problem with the pop up stand option is that it won’t fill the shell scheme space. This means you’ll have blank walls that you will be left trying to fill with other solutions. Also, the pop stand will be very limited on the design features it can accommodate, so not the most effective way to get noticed at an exhibition.

As you can see, all of these options have their limitations. But, more importantly, they are exactly what every other exhibitor with a shell scheme does.

But it doesn’t have to be this way. You can exhibit with a shell scheme and still compete with businesses who have bigger budgets for their exhibition stand designs and structures.

Come out of your shell – how to transform your shell scheme space

Most people who book a shell scheme don’t realise they can often remove the facias and the ceiling grid – this means you can literally “come out of your shell”. By doing this you have the room to extend your stand height from 2.5 m to 4m.

With the ceiling grid removed, you can take advantage of the extra space available to you by using high-level branding. This is the perfect way to get noticed on the exhibition floor and give your stand a much more superior look. This will not only make your stand appear bigger but also more open, taking away that “enclosed” feeling that will deter visitors.

But there is a way to completely transform this shell scheme space so you can exhibit with a highly creative stand that visitors won’t be able to ignore . . . 

As you may already know, leading exhibition company Quadrant2Design are the UK’s exclusive suppliers of Prestige Events System. This is a flexible and modular structure that is perfectly designed to fit in front of shell scheme walls, as well as being suitable for “space only” stands.  

But more importantly, this system allows you to create unique 3D structures and add AV features to your exhibition stand. As many of the other shell schemes will have flat walls, this is one of the best ways to dramatically alter the square “box” feel of your shell scheme and make your exhibition  more visually impressive and stand out from the crowd.

Think outside the box – how to make your shell scheme stand out

With endless reconfiguration possibilities, Quadrant2Design’s Prestige System allows you to create a variety of shapes and layouts for your stand. What is more, this structure allows you to include many bespoke features to promote your products or services. 

Quadrant2Design’s highly talented designers have developed an amazing range of attention-grabbing design features that are unique to the Prestige System. Here are just a small number of their many unique eye-catching features you can use to transform your shell scheme into a custom-designed stand that will look far superior to your competitors:

  • High-Level Branding

With your ceiling grid gone, you have the chance to utilise this space with high-level branding at either 3.3 or 3.9 m.  This will not only make your stand much impressive but as the surrounding shell schemes will be at 2.4m, this help you to stand out as people will be able to see your branding from a considerable distance.  

  • High-Level Rotating Headers

But high-level branding doesn’t just have to be a case of just extending your stand upwards. You can be much more creative than that. Nothing attracts exhibition visitors like movement on a stand. Quadrant2Desgin’s branded rotating header feature – at a height of 3 meters and above – is the optimum feature for getting your stand noticed in a busy exhibition hall.

  • 3D-Effect Product Showcases

Display your products in the most inventive way with Quadrant2Design’s 3D-Effect showcases. Quadrant2Designers like to get creative with the range of shapes and graphics they can use to display products on client’s exhibition stands.

  • End of Wall Showcase

These “end of wall” showcases are perfect for displaying smaller products or literature that you want to highlight to people passing by. Also, displaying your products in the less obvious places of your exhibition stand makes your environment dynamic and interesting.

And as these showcases are at the front of your exhibition stand, they will catch the attention of visitors who might otherwise have walked past.

  • AV Displays

If you want to take your exhibition stand to the next level with an interactive TV presentation, then the Prestige stands are perfect for integrating AV equipment and screens. Whether it’s an i-pad, 60 inch TV or a full wall screen, Qudrant2Design can design their stands to incorporate different screen sizes for different purposes.

  • Photo-Flooring

Perhaps the most popular exhibiting innovation offered by Quadrant2design is their unique photo-flooring feature – which extends your wall graphics into the otherwise wasted floor space of your stand.  

A shell scheme comes with a carpet, but you can easily have this removed and our photo-flooring installed. Quadrant2Design are the only exhibition company to offer this design feature as an integral part of our service. So why not make the most of this offer by extending your stunning graphic display into your floor area?

So even if you are a small business with a modest shell scheme booth at an exhibition show, this doesn’t mean you can’t still exhibit with a creative custom-designed stand within this space. As the other exhibitors around you will most likely keep their shell scheme structures intact, your stand will look far more striking than your neighbouring competitors.

Yes, the bigger players in your industry might have the largest spaces and the tallest stands. But size isn’t everything. Quadrant2Design have shown how it is possible to create a truly impressive stand in a shell scheme space.

If you have booked a spot at an exhibition event to showcase your brand, then you should make the most of the opportunity by going that “extra mile” to exhibit with a stand that will attract the attention of those valuable leads among the crowded exhibition hall.

Click here to see more examples of Quadrant2Design’s amazing shell scheme designs.

Molly Hookings
Author: Molly Hookings

Molly joined the editorial team in March 2019. She has several years’ experience working in broadcast and journalism, as well as marketing and PR. Past experience includes working for the BBC and independent publishing houses. If you have a story you think Molly might be interested in, please email: