A weblog about theatrical drapery and stage curtains for Production Managers, Set Designers, Custom Drapery Resellers, and local/school/church Productions
Picture this. You are promoting your product at a trade show. You have pipe and base hardware, but basic colored drapes just don’t make a statement. The answer? Custom digitally printed backdrops that attach to the pipe and base and make your booth stand out from the crowd.
By printing your logo, tag line, or even a photo of your product onto a fabric substrate designed for digital printing, such as Heavy Knit, you have unlimited possibilities in customizing your booth. This 10 foot wide fabric allows for a seamless look for the standard 10′ x 10′ booth, and seamed options are available for larger booths.
You can choose a single larger backdrop for the back wall (such as shown above), or add additional side wall pieces (as shown below). Either way, the pieces can be hung on standard pipe and base hardware via a top pipe pocket, with grommets and ties used on the sides for a snug fit.
As the new year approaches, it’s a great time to begin designing a new look for your trade show booths for the 2014 show season! Why not make digitally printed backdrops part of that design?
We here at Rent What? Inc. are quickly realizing that Pipe and Drape systems are not just for trade shows and conventions anymore. Recently we’ve noticed a huge spike in concert tours and large-scale productions using them for everything from helping “mask” the walls of a venue to be more neutral in design, to helping shape their stage space to fit their artist’s specific look, to creating their own portable and flexible “dressing room space” when they need something larger than our 8′ x 8′ Pop Up Dressing Rooms. Rent What? Inc. carries a wide variety of sizes and colors to choose from, as well as completely adjustable hardware to fit each customer’s individual dimensions and needs.
I think one of the main reasons our Rental P&B Systems are so popular for all sorts of events and concert tours is that we have drapery ranging from 3’h to 20’h, in either convenient 5’w single width, seamless panels and/or 15′ w seamed panels. They are all sewn flat with pipe pocket tops, which helps create a beautiful, flawless look once installed on our versatile P&B hardware. Having our rental P&B drapes available in a myriad of colors (black, white, red, burgundy, royal blue, grey, pewter, and gold) and fabrics (15 oz Encore Velour, Super-Vel, and Voile) also helps our clients create the exact look and feel they are going for, whether backstage on a major concert tour or front and center for a high-profile convention.
Another reason our rental PB Systems are so popular is because of the sheer convenience of our huge inventory of adjustable and static uprights, drape supports, bases, and pins. With uprights available from 3’h to 20’h, drape supports ranging from 2’w to 16’w, and bases ranging from 13’ lbs to 62 lbs, we have the variety of sizes and weights available to help our customers create the exact set-up they need. As well, we also have innovative base carts and carry boxes to help ease our clients with any transportation issues they may have, which is an important consideration especially when travelling from venue to venue on tour.
These are just a few of the reasons why internationally renowned artists like Beyonce, Wiz Khalifa, Justin Timberlake, and many more have utilized our beautiful and dependable Pipe and Drape Systems for their summer tours and shows this year. Complete ease of use + huge assortment of available rental inventory = a winning combination for aconcert tour or special event!
This year Rent What? was thrilled to provide some beautiful staging drapes for Visions Lighting, one of the premier lighting, staging, and production companies in Southern California. They designed the set and main stage for the LA Times Annual Festival of Books, held on the USC Campus here in Los Angeles. This important annual event helps children in the community celebrate books and everything positive that they bring to us. It also had panels and discussions on numerous topics of interest both to children and their parents, as well as a gorgeous outdoor stage to showcase an abundant variety of performers, speakers, and entertainers. Working with Todd Roberts, Kelly Roberts, and the creative team at Visions Lighting, we were so happy to be able to provide a rental drapery mix of some of our reliable Red Super-Vel Pipe and Base drape panels along with several of our lush Red Super-Vel theatrical stage drapes and borders from our Rockin’ Red Collection to help create the festive look they wanted for this beautiful outdoor space.
Lightweight, versatile, colorful, and easy to install, Red Super-Vel drapery can add that special touch to any production—inside or outside—that you may have, without the hassle of having to buy and store big, heavy, expensive drapes for a single event’s use. With a wide variety of sizes and styles to choose from, Rent What? would love to help you figure out the right complementary mix of our rental drapes for your next special event, too!
Last week, I posted on times when it might be better to buy pipe and drape. Today, I’d like to give you information on the rental side, with information on times when it’s better to rent pipe and drape rather than to purchase it outright.
INFREQUENCY OF THE EVENTS
If you only do 1 or 2 local trade shows or other similar types of events a year, and never really know what your booth set-up or configuration will be, then it would be much smarter to rent your pipe and base hardware and draping each time you need it. Counting on the inventory you might have isn’t always dependable, and then you’re stuck at the last minute having to figure out what else you may need to supplement your own supply of goods. If you rent from us each time, we can help you figure out exactly how much pipe and drape you will need for each specific event, taking all of the guess work out of it for you.
LOCATION OF THE EVENTS
If you are based in Southern California, it’s often much less expensive to rent everything you need for those occasional special events or productions. This is especially the case if the event is also in Southern California, eliminating the need to ship the pipe and drape or worry about how the price of fuel is going to affect your overall rental price due to increasingly higher shipping costs.
SIZE OF YOUR COMPANY
Depending on the size of your company, sometimes it’s easier to rent everything when you need it, rather than having to find a place to store everything and then pull it out every time another conference, convention or special event comes around. Pipe and Drape can take up a lot of room, and the hardware is sometimes of an awkward shape and size, so it can take a lot of stress out of the occasion to not have to worry about where you will be able to safely store everything all year long.
SIZE OF THE EVENTS
Renting is perfect for larger events in which you need a lot of pipe and base hardware and drapery that you wouldn’t normally ever need again. This is especially true if you know it’s going to be a massively large one-time event, in which you don’t want to have to worry about dealing with storing everything afterwards. It also makes sense to rent pipe and base hardware if the event is very small and requires odd sizes of equipment different from those you expect to need for typical events in the future.
WHEN LABOR IS AN ISSUE
If you have a local event in Southern California, no matter how big or small, renting can be a great option for you when you want someone to come to your event site and install everything, then come back when it’s over and strike and return everything too. That eliminates the worry of possibly not having the booths set up correctly, or not knowing how to install everything yourself. If you rent from us, we can be sure that everything is exactly the way you want it, and then when it’s over we’ll take it all away from you so you won’t have to lift a finger.
So, basically, here are some rules of thumb that will help you decide if renting is the best way to go:
- You only have one or two trade shows or events each year, and you never really know exactly what your configuration will be.
- You or your event are located in Southern California, so that shipping isn’t required, and you can come by and pick everything up without a problem or have us deliver/pickup everything for you.
- You are a smaller company and don’t have a place to safely store pipe and drape year round in between your trade shows or special events.
- The event you are planning is so huge that you know you would probably never need that much pipe and drape again, or so small that you know that any future needs would require different sized equipment and drapery than needed for the current event.
- The event is taking place in Southern California, and you would like us to do all of the work for you—from the delivery and install to the strike and pickup —so you don’t have to worry about how to put everything together properly and safely for your event.
If these points apply to you, then it would just make more sense to rent your pipe and drape so you can lessen your stress and worry about how to put everything together, where you will have to store it all year round, and how you would be able to make use of it again in the future for a completely different event and configuration. Renting gives you the ability to have exactly what you want, where you want it, and for how long you will need it.
A question we get a lot here at Rent What? Inc. is, “When is it better to rent, and when is it better to buy a Pipe and Drape System for my upcoming event?” Of course there are always a lot of great reasons for each, but I’d like to focus now on why it may be a better idea to purchase, and talk about when it would be a better idea to rent in a future blog.
FREQUENCIES OF THE EVENTS
If you do more than 3 or 4 local trade shows each year, and often have a similar booth set up each time, then cost-wise it just makes more sense to go ahead and purchase your hardware. Renting it over and over again, depending on the size of your booth, can add up quickly. If you purchase it from Sew What? Inc., for just a few hundred dollars more, then you would have it every time you needed it, year round. Then, if you wanted to rent different colors or styles of draping for individual events, you could then arrange that with Rent What?, and still have a unique feel to each event without the added expense of paying for the rental of hardware, too.
Rent What? cannot rent custom-made backdrops, which is a specialty of our sister company, Sew What? If you wanted to have a beautiful and unique custom backdrop made for your booth, then you would ultimately have to rent the hardware each and every time you wanted to be able to display it. If you owned your own hardware for the backdrop, then you would be able to showcase your custom backdrop anytime you would like without having to worry about availability of the rental hardware or the added expense.
People don’t always realize how extremely heavy the pipe and base hardware can be, especially the bases, which can run anywhere between 13lbs and 62lbs, EACH, depending on your set-up. Shipping pipe and base hardware across the country over and over again can end up costing a lot more than the rental itself, which can really add up in the long run.
Right now Sew What? has a few special deals on single booth set-ups, which could include draping as well, or just include the hardware. For around $250, you can buy all of the hardware needed for a typical 10×10 booth setup. Or for around $500-700, you can purchase an entire booth setup, which would also include banjo cloth drapes for it, as well as separate carrying bags for everything.
So, basically, here are some rules of thumb that will help you decide if buying is the best way to go:
- You tend to do smaller trade shows, and end up having a similar set up every time.
- Your trade shows happen several times a year, and often in different parts of the country that would need everything shipped to.
- You never know how long you’re going to need the hardware for.
- You have custom draping that you know you’re going to want to hang up at different events, and often.
- You have a good location to store everything in, and can use the purchased carrying bags from Sew What? to keep everything handily together.
Recently Rent What? Inc. had a local production company, Oops Productions, contact us for some draping and pipe and base hardware for a winter formal dance. They had a tight budget, but still wanted something gorgeous to help mask the bleachers in the auditorium, so they could help transform the room into a beautiful winter landscape. Normally they do much grander events, but this dance held a special place in the heart of the designer Vairon Perez, who basically decided to help design for this special dance as a favor to the school. Therefore we wanted to do everything we could to help them out! He had limited resources to work with, and of course some staging considerations to deal with as well, having the dance take place entirely inside a school’s auditorium. But you can see from this video that they did an amazing job! Using the high school students to help with the setup of all of the pipe and drape, they were able to set up our gorgeous White Supervel drapery and pipe and drape hardware very easily in just a few minutes. Add in a little colorful lighting and voila– a gorgeous winter wonderland!
It just goes to show that with user-friendly equipment and quality draping, you don’t have to be a high-end professional production company to be able to manage our gear easily and successfully. We were proud to help by providing low-cost pipe and draping for this event, and very impressed with how beautiful everything turned out!
In the past, I have posted about different ways to use Pipe and Drape, in addition to traditional exhibit booths (such as for trade shows). Well, recently we were contacted by Aaron Valdez, who asked for our help in creating a unique item using pipe and base hardware and custom drapery.
Aaron Valdez is the owner of “Perfect Shot Photo Booth.” He had a great idea – utilize pipe and base hardware and custom drapery to create a portable photo booth for use at weddings and special events. Aaron had the vision, but he needed help in figuring out how to achieve his vision.
Gwen Winter (Sew What? Senior Sales) worked with Aaron in designing his “perfect” photo booth. The hardware is simple – pipe and base hardware including uprights, bases, and telescopic drape supports. It is the drapery that turns it into a photo booth. We utilized Black 15oz Encore, which is not only a blackout fabric, but also has an attractive back, so that no lining was required. The drapery was sewn so that the hardware was concealed both inside and out, and included a custom top as well. Doorway openings were made on both sides, creating an entrance and an exit, and Pewter 15oz Encore was used as a trim, to make the entrance and exit easily identifiable to guests inside the booth.
I think it turned out great – what do you think?
I am also happy to say that Aaron was so happy with the process that he sent a great note of thanks:
I wanted to write and tell you thank you so much for all of your help in tending to our project. Your customer service as well as that shown by the entire staff at your company has been unparalleled. I was immediately impressed at the warm reception we received when we entered your office. What started out as a curious visit ended in you creating a design that was even better than I had ever imagined possible for our company’s application. The photo booth is now in full operation and is working excellently. It looks very professional thanks to your design ideas and your company’s implementation of it. Thank you so much for your help in our endeavor and you have certainly made us a lifetime customer.
I’d also like to add that I was especially impressed at how my designer, Gwen, sat down with us and made sure she understood exactly what my vision was and then created a design to fit my specific application. So many other companies only had a generic answer for me while Sew What? Inc. worked with me to design something that was exactly what I needed.
Owner, ”Perfect Shot Photo Booth”
The most common fabric used for exhibit booth drapery is Banjo Cloth. It is lightweight, durable, permanently flame retardant, and relatively inexpensive. For these reasons, it is used in Convention Centers throughout the country, usually in a neutral color such as black or blue.
However, more and more exhibitors are looking for ways to make their booths “stand out from the crowd,” and one of the easiest ways to do that is to bring their own drapery to the show.
There are a number of different drapery options available to exhibitors. The easiest option is to purchase your own Banjo Cloth drapery panels in a different color than that offered by the Convention Center, perhaps a color that coordinates with your company logo.
Better yet, take it a step further and purchase traditional exhibit drapery but in a different fabric. Traditional exhibit drapery panels are manufactured using a single width of fabric (generally 4′ to 5′ wide, but occasionally up to 9′ wide, depending on the fabric selected), with a pipe pocket sewn on the top. Panels are sewn flat (unpleated) and are “pushed together” on the drape support to create “natural” pleating.
With traditional exhibit drapery, it is a simple matter to substitute the drapery at the show. Simply unhook the drape support from the uprights, slide off the Convention Center’s Drapes, slide on your own drapes, and hook the drape support back on the uprights.
These traditional exhibit drapes can be made from a wide variety of fabrics, depending on the desired look. One option is to use a synthetic velour/velvet, such as DFR 15oz Encore or PFR 8oz Super-Vel. These offer a rich “theatrical” appearance and are available in a variety of colors. They are also durable and can be cleaned without losing the flame retardant properties. As a matter of fact, Rent What? includes both fabrics in their Pipe & Base Drapery inventory and have recently posted some terrific photos on Flickr. If the look of velour isn’t quite what you are looking for, single-width panels can also be made many different types of fabrics, from RB Cloth to Satin to Voile, and much more. The sky’s the limit!
If you want a highly customized look, however, consider moving past the traditional single-width panel to a custom drape manufactured to size. With custom drapery, not only do you have a wide selection of fabric choices, but you can also choose to have a single (wider) drape for each booth “wall,” you can choose to have the drape pleated, you can even choose a different top finish, such as Hidden Sewn Ties, to give that extra polish to your booth.
Want something really different and individual? Consider a specialty custom bias-cut drape or a drape digitally printed with your company’s logo or another image.
As you can see, there are numerous drapery options available that allow you to personalize your exhibit booth and make it stand out in the crowd – options for just about every budget and style. So consider going “Beyond Banjo Cloth” for your next show!
I post a lot on traditional stage curtains as well as on the drapery we make for music tours, but I realized this afternoon that I have not posted on another element of our business – exhibit booths, drapes and supplies.
You may not know what I mean by “exhibit booths,” but I am sure you have seen them (or perhaps even used them yourself). These are the booths you see at trade shows and convention vendor floors.
Commonly, the elements that are used to make up these exhibit booths are referred to as “Pipe and Base” or “Pipe and Drape.” Often the booths are connected in a side by side and/or back to back configuration – a common configuration is to have a series of booths with 8′ backwalls and 3′ side walls (you can see drawings of these types of configurations on the “Wholesale Pipe and Drape Packages” page of our website).
In many cases, the standard booths are provided by the show organizer or venue – but booth holders often personalize them with their own drapery – or even bring their own hardware as well as drapery.
The hardware includes uprights, bases, and drape supports. We distribute a “slip-fit” system of hardware. This means that the bottom of the upright slips right into the center of the base – no screws required. Uprights have slots in two areas – at the top and at about 3′ from the bottom. The final piece of hardware is the drape support (also known as the crossbar). This is the “pole” that the drapes hang from. These drape supports have “hooks” on each end which fit into the slots on the uprights.
Drapes are usually made with an open rod pocket at the top – the drape support slides through the pocket (similiar to a home window drape sheer). The most affordable option is to purchase single-width unpleated panels that are unpleated and use extra panels pushed together to give a natural pleated appearance. For example, for a 10 foot wide backwall, we would recommend 4 drapes at 4′ wide each (or a total of 16′ in drapery width).
“Pipe and Drape” system are truly a “do-it-yourself” option. A single stand-alone booth with an 8′ backwall, two 3′ sidewalls, and an open front requires only a few components and can be put up in by a couple of people in 15 minutes. We even sell a couple of single booth packages that gives the customer every thing needed for a 10′ x 10′ booth – bases, uprights, telescopic drape supports, drapes, along with carry/storage bags for everything.
But another option that can personalize a booth is to purchase custom drapes. Perhaps you select a different fabric, a different color, have an image digitally printed on the drapes, or even do something fun like these two-toned angled drapes that we made for ourselves, to use in our own booth at a trade show:
Yes, the huge corporations spend a huge amount of money having custom booths designed and built for them – and many of them really are amazing. But for the rest of us, pipe and drape is a great option that is both affordable and easily customizable.
You may not know what it is called, but you have probably seen pipe and drape at some point. If you have gone to a home or craft show at your local convention center, if you have gone to a convention for your business association and there was an exhibitor hall at the hotel…chances are, you’ve seen pipe and drape systems (also called exhibit supply).
“Pipe and drape” is the common term for the components used to make trade show booths. Depending on the components selected, pipe and drape can be used to make a single back wall, an individual booth or even a series of connected booths. And they are easy to put together. Simply place the bases on the ground, insert the uprights, thread the drapes onto the telescopic drape supports, and insert the drape supports to the top of the uprights. No wonder they are used for trade shows – they are quick and easy to set up and take down and they are relatively inexpensive.
These same features of pipe and drape make it a great alternative for many applications outside the trade show circuit. With just a few components, a church can have a 3 foot high privacy screen in front of the choir onstage. If the choir isn’t singing for a service, the privacy screen can be quickly dismantled and placed offstage. A high school can use pipe and base to decorate the school gym for the prom. Instead of looking at gym walls and bleachers, the students could be looking at beautiful satin or voile drapery, easily displayed around the entire perimeter of the gym on pipe and base hardware. A retail store could use pipe and drape as a backdrop to an open window display. Radio stations could use pipe and base, along with digitally printed backdrops displaying the station’s logo, to make promotional booths outside rock concerts.
The possibilities are endless. All it takes is a little imagination.