The Frame That Changed the Game

The Frame That Changed the Game

The “Tell-All” Story about Modular Exhibit Systems!

The rage these days seem to be heightened visual excitement the moment you walk into a Custom Exhibit.

Affordable turn-key displays with multimedia extravaganzas, and large format graphics; design treatments would have a Broadway producer jealous, are becoming the expected norm.

A lot of this has to do with modular construction systems and the role they play.

Say It Isn’t So

When it all started back in the late 70’s, this was not the case with modular system technology.

Saul Tolkin, ExpoService Standard, Montreal, Canada, had a modular construction wall system, that Freeman took interest in and bought the rights to produce the MIS Exhibit System.

GES, in an arrangement with Freeman, produced the same profiles to create the GEM Exhibit System.

The Syma System, system profiles from Europe, was one of the first aluminum modular construction systems distributed in the United States.

Then Saul Tolkien’s daughter marries Xavier Decludt and AGAM opens in Maryland, making MIS, GEM and AGAM all kissing cousins.

Meanwhile Octanorm GmbH, had established several companies as distributors across North America. And the System Invasion was on.

Even with this glut of construction systems, exhibit builders did not like seeing the aluminum uprights and cross beams in exhibit design. The majority thought if it was not wood it was not  “Custom”.

Promoting and selling for many modular construction system suppliers was akin to running up the down escalator.

The Shifting of Cultural Acceptance

None-the-less, infiltrating the exhibit industry was an ever-growing increase and variety of exhibit system manufacturers.

This includes everything from pop-up and portable to light weight truss systems and double deck systems, in addition to aluminum profiles.

Over the next decade or so, the reluctance by custom exhibit builders slowly changed due to several contributing factors.

Portables and pop-ups replaced many 10 and 20-foot exhibits, major exhibiting companies attended fewer trade shows, and economics made one-time custom rental exhibits a very viable option.

Modular construction systems gained legitimacy as designer/builders profited from successfully integrating these systems into design.

Integrate that with large format dye sub graphics, modular two-story decks, and inexpensive audio-visual equipment; designing and producing custom exhibits went in an exciting new direction.

Part Two

The Holes in This Story (not so fake news)

In 1993 Edwin Huber, a Swiss exhibition contractor and stand builder, while at EuroShop looking for an alternative construction system, came across Delta Light, a Belgium lighting manufacture.

Delta Light used a steel perforated beam for lighting. Edwin teamed up with Delta Light and invested in converting the perforated beam into a modular frame exhibit system.

They eventually change it to aluminum and Matrix Architecture was born. Edwin did not care who used it, so Delta Light established Delta Matrix, to distribute this modular construction system.

Now Edwin’s Matrix Architecture in Switzerland, Laarhoven Design International and Laarhoven Design USA, as well as Creaplan GmbH, were using and re-selling this new perforated frame system.

A decade later and after a year’s absence from buying any Delta Matrix, Creaplan GmbH became Aluvision in 2003.

With Edwin Huber moving Matrix System GmbH production to Switzerland and Creaplan GmbH departure, Delta Matrix was reduced to a 1-million-dollar division and eleven years later sold.

In 2004, the word Delta is replaced by “be” representing Belgium and becomes beMatrix.

In 2012, Laarhoven Design USA becomes beMatrix USA. They introduce the 62mm frame to the US market and things begin to change.

The Brush Fire Begins

It is amazing to compare today trade show environment with the industry’s resistance to using exhibit constructions systems “back in the day”.

We need to applaud Robert Laarhoven efforts that have made so many aware of the advantages in designing with the modular perforated frame system.   Due to Robert, there is  an over whelming acceptance by exhibit builders who now profit with the use of this system for custom design exhibit.

Especially for custom rental exhibits and event programs.

An exhibit design and construction evolution is happening as we move from exclusively wood fabrication.  Now designers can produce unique exhibit designs driven by trade show marketing objectives at affordable rates.

Systems provide that unique capability to incorporate a variety of in-fill panels, color graphics, and multimedia components, to cover the structure completely.

You will continue to more exciting custom exhibit designs, as one-time unique solutions, that will blow the viewer away. The economical scale in which ,we can provide custom exhibits will encourage companies to push for greater visual presentations and even larger booths at their trade shows.

Thanks to Edwin Huber and Robert Laarhoven, this will be good for everyone.

For more information about modular construction design and marketing, contact Don J Lyon (The Systems Guy) at

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