Exhibitors at the Johannesburg International Motor Show (JIMS), which kicks off late-October, will call on an array of local and overseas talent to conceptualise, design and build some of the most spectacular and cutting-edge stands to help display their wares to maximum effect.
Stand-building experts like Set Squared – South Africa’s dominant force when it comes to displays for motor shows - will start getting up to speed for the Joburg extravaganza from early August and will be ready to move on-site with their creations and a workforce of 150 as soon as the doors to the Expo Centre open on October 21.
Even if it means working 24 hours a day, the stands for the 250-plus exhibitors being built by Set Squared and its local and overseas rivals, will all be completed in time for the flood of media and industry guests expected on October 30. And if all goes well, the exhibits will cope effortlessly with a steady flow of public visitors from November 1 to 9, with about 300 000 pairs of feet expected to tramp through the halls.
The longevity of show stands is not an issue however, and they’re researched and developed to a high standard and must comply with strict design and safety requirements.
Every stand at JIMS will have to produce a certificate proving structural compliance to be signed off with the show’s safety officer. Stand-building has become a highly-specialised business, combining structural engineering, carpentry, electrics, electronics, metalwork, fabrication, computers and even plumbing.
Set Squared has been associated with Africa’s premier motor show since its 1996 inception and this year will be serving companies like Nissan, Lexus, Renault and Fiat. Nissan will have one of the biggest facilities, with an area of approximately 1 000 square metres and in total Set Squared will handle 6 000-odd ‘squares’.
“It’s about the ‘wow’ factor - everyone wants to have something special at a show like this and I think we’ll see an environmentally-friendly theme on a lot of stands,” says Paul Mains-Sheard, chief executive of Set Squared. “But there’s also going to be a lot of attention paid to visual effects and we’ve secured 250 high-tech ‘daylight pars’ lights which will give a whiter, more natural look and feel to our clients’ stands.
“There will also be better audiovisual thanks to the increasing popularity and availability of exhibition-quality, indoor LED screens,” says Mains-Sheard. “This will allow for huge graphic displays – you can link them to create a display up to seven metres high if you wanted to and if there was that kind of space in the halls – but this technology will certainly add to the entertainment value of the show.”
Big corporate clients pay up to R5 000 per square metre to have a breathtaking exhibit designed and built from scratch, excluding up to another R1 000 a square metre to rent space in one of the prime halls. Historically the German brands such as BMW, Audi and Volkswagen import their entire display – complete with their own overseas stand-building personnel who handle the process from start to finish.
Within three days of the lights being switched off on November 9 there will be no sign of a world-class event just having taken place at the Expo Centre, and everything will have been packed up and carried out.
Equipment such as lights and giant television screens will be returned to the specialised hire companies that provided them, some materials will go into storage to be used at smaller local shows or at promotional events, some hardware will be donated to needy schools and institutions and some of it will be shipped back overseas to be used at the next international motor show - to ensure a consistent feel and fit to a given brand’s stand.