“Perfection is achieved not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.”—Antoine de Saint Exupéry.
In the design world, the concept of ‘White Spaces’ on a web page, in an advertisement, or in a scene of a movie – is of great concern. The concepts and practice is one so fundamental that it has caused riots and revolutions.
Modernism and the architectural school of Minimalism echo this sentiment in physical form and function—though not always in a favorable conjunction.
It is clean, uncluttered and open. Ideas and information are easily transmitted without the fear of the message being buried in layers. Interestingly, the form can also evoke a converse perspective of smallness – like looking out at the stars from the Nevada desert.
It seems that a good number of booths, (or stands if you are reading this in Europe), have begun to adopt the concept as well.
In theory this is a good thing, more open space to move and less clutter on the floor and wall provides focus. It is much easier to see a product and concept with less distraction, less feeling of claustrophobia.
A minimalist approach does come with a cost though. As the Antoine de Saint Exupéry quote at the start of this article states, this simplified presentation comes with the removal of something, lots of things.
Give and Take
Shure has taken this design approach to heart with a stark white booth of conference/huddle rooms showing off its Microflex offerings. The demos were interesting and the system and the bundle of partnerships does impart clear solutions. Mission accomplished. Or was it?
Clearly the intent was to focus on the new systems by making them front and center only. What was missing or “taken away” was any reference to the history and breadth and depth of the Shure product lines.
Being a fan of the professional tools offered by Shure, this touchstone, if only referred to in some passing way, was missed. Perhaps this was intended to be implied by the decades of engineering behind the creation of the new lines.
In contrast, and only a few booths away, Sennheiser offered up a booth of clean lines and open entry. The space was compact and filled in a way which approached being cluttered but only nearly missed this mark.
Sennheiser also offered up excellent conference/huddle room solutions and a similar demo room of a mic array. The difference came in that feeling that this was an audio company, one with a long history. The far side of the booth provided a diorama showing off its breadth and depth.
Nouvelle or Naught?
The ultra sleek trend is a curious one which may be indicative of where the industry is going. The nuts and bolts, the specialized hardware pieces, are becoming less important as we mash these into singular monoliths.
Integration on the physical products has become more about the system as a singular than the components.
Much of this is the natural outcome of the long heralded merger of AV into IT—gear that is multipurpose and minimizes parts and cable runs is the standard. Granted this is helpful in reducing labor, construction costs and maintenance.
Still, much like the fading of component audio systems to the gain of smart devices and streaming channels, the efficiency comes at the cost of a tactile experience.
The white spaced booths do provide an aesthetic pull to the attendee. Much like the Haute Cuisine of nouvelle, it is a sight to behold and may even tantalize the senses in new ways. Often though, one is left aching for something a bit more filling.