FLOWING SILVER LEVITATES A DISPLAY INTO NEW DIMENSIONS

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by Robert Galbraith, Director of Account Management and IT for Dimensional Communications

 FLOWING SILVER LEVITATES A DISPLAY INTO

NEW DIMENSIONS

 Learn more by viewing the video “The Silver Flow”

Flights of fancy can become reality, even on a show floor. It just takes ingenuity and well-honed skills.

Starting in 2013, Daimler AG began planning for the launch of their new worldwide Auto Show concept for Mercedes-Benz for model year 2015.  At a meeting at the Detroit Auto Show in January of 2014 DCI was asked to translate the concept for the American market.

Starting in 2013, Daimler AG began planning for the launch of their new worldwide Auto Show concept for Mercedes-Benz for model year 2015.  At a meeting at the Detroit Auto Show in January of 2014 DCI was asked to translate the concept for the American market.

The design, by Jangled Nerves of Stuttgart, was spectacular, highlighted by an elegant flow of slim panels that was nicknamed “The Silver Flow”.

The Silver Flow was designed to swoop along walls and high above the show floor for an overall distance of 155 feet. Each “lamella” – as the slim panels came to be called – had its own specific tilt, length, and rotation, which was different from that of the lamellas adjacent, giving the Silver Flow the appearance of three-dimensional movement, particularly as colored lights danced along the highly reflective panels.

But differences between European and American shows presented significant challenges. First, the Mercedes-Benz displays in Europe were designed for one-time use. Here, the display would be used multiple times in multiple venues, and needed to last a minimum of five years. This required ruggedness, durability and adaptability; we had to be able to put up, dismantle and ship the display thousands of miles from one venue to another, where the exhibit would have a somewhat different configuration. DCI also had to consider weight restrictions in the different convention centers; there were, for instance, limits to how many thousands of pounds of material we could hang from a facility’s ceiling.

Silver flow Blog1

n Europe, aluminum was used for the lamellas. The metal is expensive and although it is lighter than steel, is relatively heavy, particularly for lamellas that were up to 20 feet in length.  Also, in Europe a highly complex piece of hardware was designed for use during setup to attach each lamella to the matrix and then adjust its position. This led to two significant decisions at DCI: First, we would use a custom-made fiberglass extrusion for the lamellas and spray paint them with an automotive-quality finish to make them look like aluminum. And second, instead of building a complex piece of attachment hardware and having to spend lots of time on the show floor perfecting the position of every one of the 125 lamellas, we would use in-house computer software to engineer the structure so that the position of each lamella was pre-determined and fixed.  During set-up in the field each lamella could be fastened to two supporting pipes in such a way that there was only one possible fixed position.

Silver Flow Blog2

DCI spent about six months redesigning and engineering the concept so that it would work in the markets. We had regular weekly web-enabled meetings with the design team in Germany, trading CAD files, considering variations on the shape and length of the lamellas, discussing how each would tilt, and so on. We built very large jigs so we could fabricate to rigid specifications the two serpentine pipes that would support all the lamellas. We also spent a lot of time working with the floor plans of the Los Angeles and New York auto shows to be sure we came up with something that would not only keep the intent of the original design but that would work in the two venues.”

And yes, there also was the rest of the 17,000 square foot exhibit to build: multimedia display panels, office and lounge spaces, lighting apparatuses, vehicle information displays, etc.  Like the Silver Flow, the wall system was engineered to be lightweight, reusable, and reconfigurable. Rather than build an expensive and heavy hard-wall system as is typically done in Europe, we utilized our “Diamond” tension fabric system.  The results were stunning – everything was sleek, elegant, and as dynamic and aesthetically pleasing as the automobiles on display.

First stop: The Los Angeles International Auto Show this past November. Setup went smoothly as each lamella slipped into position, and the entire set-up was done 24 hours ahead of schedule….and then….show time!

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