abgc architecture
architecture & design

Trade Show Stand

A collaborative project with Renate Henschke

Music can define space, clothes can have structure and buildings can communicate subtle, complex messages.

Why then should the fashion designer not design walls or the architect not make patterns?


The sometimes strict divisions of labour and of specialisation we now experience were not always the case. Composer Richard Wagner used a word Gesamtkunstwerk in his 1849 essay “Art and Revolution” to mean total artwork, a synthesis of the arts in one piece, where one piece might encompass dance, music and drama together. Your average renaissance man would throw his hand at painting art sculpture and science with equal gusto. Charles and Ray Eames designed furniture, architecture, communications, Film and graphic design, considering all to be worthy pursuits. In terms of the total work the likes of Frank Lloyd Wright might be a good example the where furniture, building and landscape are all designed together as an expression of a single idea.

This project though no ‘total artwork’ was an attempt to achieve a level of that synthesis between the mediums of fashion (Made for you by Arms) and architecture (abgc) for Music From Ireland (MFI).

The Brief

Music From Ireland is a music industry & arts collective set up by First Music Contact to promote Irish talent at International Music Showcases & Conventions and is funded by Culture Ireland & IMRO.

At each show event there are showcase gigs organized by participating countries and record labels. There is a back end too, with a trade show environment where music industry types show their wares. A CD is produced for each event with a showcase of artists and this is the de facto business card, flyer, information leaflet for introduction for the band and the Music From Ireland concept.

MFI commissioned abgc to design Ireland’s Stand.

The Installation

The concept was to make an enclosure out of the talent (the CDs) and as this structure was emptied of it’s contents it would reveal a secondary message to maintain engagement in the display; the glass half empty should look as good as the glass half full. This enclosure would be completed all the furniture necessary to run a trade show so that every single element of the stand would be Irish made by Irish design, from Ireland.

The finished product would have to be demountable (flat pack), lightweight, robust, visually engaging, easily assembled and had to fit into standard long-haul luggage allowance. It was likened it to a picnic hamper in a flight case. When fully taken apart the entire set up weighs 21kg and fits into a large suitcase.

The brief demanded a frugality of structure. After examining numerous designs and systems with the assistance of David Delahunty (industrial designer) a tubular steel frames with linen or plywood skins as determined to most fit the brief. The frames and skins rely on each other and act together in compression and tension to solidify the structure when folding or fabric skin and collapsible frame are simply screw fixed together.

After the initial concept was realised and approved fashion Designer and maker of things Renate Henschke of Made for you by Arms came on board for the detail design and fabrication of the installation with abgc.

The rear screen itself is screw jointed tubular steel sections, with linen pockets system holding 256 cds, the pockets triangles are arranged in a pattern with the spot colour linings in a subtle pattern. As the CDs are emptied from the pockets over the course of the event so the pattern is revealed.

Over the next 12 months the installation will travel to, Midem (Cannes), Canadian Music Week (Toronto), SXSW (Austin, Texas), The Great Escape (Brighton), Popkomm (Berlin) and CMJ (New York).

abgc wish to thank David Delahunty (industrial designer), re-dress’ Rosie O’Reilly and designer Clare Geraghty for their assistance getting the screens completed over the final few days before we shipped to SXSW.


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