Creative Displays - Case Study 2

Creative Displays Design and Rendering Evolution During the Pandemic

We are checking back in with Garrett Mier, account manager and designer at Creative Displays. We first spoke with Garrett about his design and rendering experience with our IRender nXt SketchUp extension back in 2019, and when we heard from him recently we were interested to see how things have been going for him and the company during the pandemic.

Creative Displays was founded in 1976 in Camarillo, California. They have historically designed and built trade show exhibits at their Camarillo premises.

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How have things been going for Creative Displays over the last couple of years?
As of February 2020 we were on track to have one of our best years as a company. Then March happened …

We sell trade show exhibits and that is quite difficult to do when the entire world shuts down and comes to a screeching halt! As show after show was cancelled, we had to make a decision and that was to wait out the pandemic or to pivot. So that is what we did. We switched gears from trade shows and went straight into home remodeling. We started a corporate recording studio to help customers create content to share with their customers and also got into building and installing store displays. It has been a wild ride over the last two years.

We did not have to furlough anyone and we kept most of our team together. Now that trade shows are coming back we are more diversified in what we are able to do and can pivot again if we ever need to. It has been rough but also a blessing in disguise and presented us with a challenge that we were able to overcome.

How has the pandemic impacted the exhibit design industry?
Design wise it has still been fairly steady. Although we were doing less volume, we have been seeing bigger budgets and more creative designs.

And of course, we’ve used screen sharing much more. Once I have an initial concept it’s great to be able to walk through the design with the customer online and make real time changes with them. Then it becomes their design and helps move the process along faster.

Have any new design trends / ideas started to appear as a result of the pandemic?
I wouldn’t say the pandemic has directly influenced our designs other that having to add hand sanitizer stations or acrylic shields but even those are starting to fade away. Design trends still trend and are industry dependent. We still have customers that want the bright white corporate look, others that want a warm and homey vibe, and everything in between.

Are you seeing strength/weakness in specific industries you serve as the world strives to return to normal? 
The cannabis industry was the first to go back to shows. The customers that I worked with all had open minds and wanted to create something, cool, impressive and impactful. On the other hand, apparel and shoes took a hard hit, most of them cut trade show budgets all together and have focused on store sales and developing their own internal studios. Gym equipment is another that wasn’t negatively affected, their online sales boomed since everyone now needed to create an at home gym. A lot of those customers are opting out of shows for the foreseeable future since there isn’t a need to go. Some of our customers are still working remote and not ready to go back to shows until the pandemic is well behind us. Technology, Cannabis, Medical and Food have been some of the standout industries for us.

Have you learned anything new in IRender nXt since we last spoke that you’ve incorporated into your rendering setup?
Lighting. This has been a key feature to get the mood and vibe right. I have been assigning lighting tools using the interface and have gotten more efficient about what lights help and where to place them, without completely bogging down my computer.

Thanks for sharing the following renderings you’ve recently produced.
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Do you have any goals to further improve your rendering skills?
One thing I want to do is get more proficient at photorealism. I always provide regular screenshots (not rendered) to show true colors, or at least close to real colors. Renderings help with the overall look by removing seams, lines and imperfections.

Have any of your clients’ projects challenged you, pushing you out of your comfort zone to produce better designs/renderings? Design is one of things that everyone has their own unique style. The market itself has made us push harder for more creative designs. The number one goal is always to try and get onto paper what the customer has in their mind. We don’t always get a second chance so the main focus is to try and get all of the wants and needs out of the customer before even starting the design work. From there it is like any other sales process, building rapport and being customer focused. Getting them what they want for the price they want to pay.

I love any project that gives me a challenge or pushes my capabilities. A good example is SketchUp components. If SketchUp doesn’t have a specific component available in the library I make it from scratch. Even if they do have a component available, it might be built in a way that bogs down my rendering time, so I will make it from scratch with less lines or in a simpler format.

Thanks, Garrett. That’s really fascinating insight into the company’s successful navigation of the last two years. Keep up the good work and we wish you continued success.

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