Using pipe and drape is probably one of the easiest ways to dress up any occasion. Most often pipe and drape are used at trade shows, conventions, corporate events, even in breweries. What’s great about setting up pipe and drape is that the benefits are twofold: you can hide those elements of your booth or wedding or whatever you are hosting so they are not a distraction or deterrent from the main affair; the second benefit is that you aren’t just covering things up, you are providing added decoration to your event, and—hopefully—adding customers along the way.
Before getting into the details of incorporating pipe and drape into your next event, let’s go over a quick breakdown of exactly what this method of decoration is.
Though it is more sophisticated than simply tossing a sheet over a frame, using pipe and drape is fairly easy to configure and set up. You begin by deciding on a fabric—color, design, shape, etc.—and then you drape this cloth over aluminum poles sitting on (usually steel) bases. Since the majority of the frame is lightweight material, it is easy to maneuver and reconfigure. Want to make it bigger or smaller? Just extend or change-out the poles. An additional bonus to pipe and drape is you can use it as a marketing tool by choosing the same image and/or color(s) used in your company logo. Unsightly items are hidden, your area looks stylish, and you are able to promote your company. Is there a better, more inexpensive method out there? Nope, at least not with this amount of versatility.
When discussing pipe and drape it is important to understand the terms. Here’s a quick list so you are not confused in discussions:
- Drape: this is the fun part. The drape is obviously the material hung over the frame, but what’s exciting about the drape is the amount of flexibility—you can choose from a variety of fabrics and colors to make your area spark with life. This is our favorite part, and we can’t wait to help you make these decisions.
- Crossbar: this is a horizontal rod, with adjustable width, that you actually hang the material on. Typically, crossbars range from three feet to six feet in width, dependent upon the amount of fabric you use. The more fabric used, the longer wider the crossbar needs to be.
- Upright: these are the vertical pipes used to hold the crossbars and fabric. They are adjustable in height and can even be replaced with longer pipes if needed. These connect to the crossbars to create a seamless design.
- Base: the base is the core of your foundation. If you do not have a solid base, the entire system could collapse—and the embarrassment of such a catastrophe would be tough to forget. Bases can be metal or rubber, or even plastic, but regardless of the material, it is a good idea to set a weight (or multiple weights) on the base to keep it from moving.
- Extras: these are all the added accessories. In order to take your pipe and drape game to the next level, you can add a valance header on a crossbar (this is a sort of curtain, usually ruffled for flair, laid over the top of the original material for added depth and design). Another example of an Extra is adding double-back wall hangers to your design. These can give your design a new shape and added dimension.
- Humps: humps are unwanted raises where the crossbar connects to the uprights. When the fabric is draped over these sections, there is often a visible hump that does not stay in line with the rest of the setup. The best way to reduce these humps is to use quality material that naturally lays flat and smooth. Our team of professionals is the best at getting these pesky humps to relax.
- Fullness: this is the degree of bunching your material makes. The fuller the material, the better. Think of it like this—fullness is the ripples that seem to float through a nice, thick curtain. These are desirable mostly because they bring about a feeling of quality and stability.
Pipe and Drape for Tradeshows and Corporate Events
There is a unique aspect to advertising at a tradeshow, and the same is true when setting up corporate events. You are stationed in one place, the clientele of possible customers come to you (or at least walk past you), so though it is important to stand out, you don’t want to look too flashy because it might actually hinder people from approaching you altogether. This is what’s so nice about using pipe and drape: you are able to advertise and draw-in your customers in a sophisticated and unassuming wa
y. No fifty-foot, plastic billboards to take up space and cause confusion. Cloth is the way to go.
Here are just a few tips The Tent Guys have collected over the years for setting up pipe and drape at tradeshows and corporate events:
- Use drape that matches your corporate colors. Rather than use something that screams your company name at potential customers, utilize a more soft-touch method to advertising your company or product. Using the same colors ties your setup together seamlessly by inviting individuals in to see what you have to offer. Make them come to you!
- Add a corporate image to your drape. If using the same colors is just not enough for you, go ahead and attach an image. This is a great way to instill your company in the minds of clients and generate image recognition.
- If the trade show you are a part of provides standard pipe and drape for you, consider adding some Extras. We would be happy to dress-up your booth quickly and efficiently. Just think, the extras could be the catalyst that draws in more customers.
- Add lights. You don’t have to go crazy here, but if you are in a dimly lit area, it might be a good idea to string some lights or tuck them under a crossbar so they shine through the drapes. This is just another way to make your event stand out in a positive way.
Pipe and Drape for Breweries
If you own or even work at a brewery, you know it’s a lot of work to keep everything going smoothly. And with new breweries popping up every day—seriously, Charlotte alone as exploded with new breweries—it is increasingly hard to keep up with expectations.
Luckily, most people who frequent this type of establishment expect to enter an atmosphere a little rough around the edges. But, there is a fine line between tasteful minimalism and a look of dilapidation. It’s not just about the quality of beer these days. Though the taste of the product matters, the taste of interior design does as well. Brewery goers want to feel comfortable, happy, excited. There are many ways to provide such an atmosphere, but having wires and pipes and machinery hanging about can dampen the mood a bit. Rather than take the time and money to completely remodel, why not add some pipe and drape? After all, we like our breweries a little edgy, so it’s not as though you have to cover everything that is not “pleasing” to the eye—just those things that don’t aesthetically add anything to your design.
We suggest using colors of drape that blend in with the background. Since this is not a corporate event or tradeshow, and your advertising has already worked (the customers are already there, drinking) this pipe and drape method is to serve as a simple cover to keep those unwanted sights hidden.
A Few Final Thoughts
At Tent Guys, we love working with pipe and drape. We love the versatility of it, the ease of setting it up, and the quality look it provides. As we work with pipe and drape more and more, we have a few pieces of insight:
- It is tempting to focus solely on the look and feel pipe and drape provide, but it’s just as important to consider safety. Too many times people have tried incorporating candles, or lighted bulbs that heat to extreme temperatures, and you can guess the result. Always be cognizant of all safety hazards. Be sure not to position anything with a flame close to the drapery. And the same goes for electric lights—take a minute to check that the wattage is not too high. Most lampshades have a maximum wattage allowance, and it’s a good idea to stick to the lowest as possible, especially if the bulb is in contact with any kind of fabric. (Here’s a great idea: use flame-resistant fabric in order to eliminate any chance of a fire.)
- When setting up the perfect tradeshow or corporate event, be sure not to position your pipe and drape so it blocks other vendors or companies. It is also important to make sure you are following all provided regulations. Sometimes those who are sponsoring the event do not want certain colors used or do not allow for corporate images to be included. Don’t be that person who gets everything in place only to have to take it all apart. Do your homework before making decisions on design.
- Get to know the different types of drapes you can use—there are tons! The colors you want to use may be an easy decision, but have you thought about the level of sheen in your cloth? What about using a drape with an open weave? Which type of material is best for your occasion, cotton, polyester? Of course, these are things we will help you decide, but in the meantime here is a quick list of just a few fabric types:
- Banjo Drapes: this type of drape has a medium sheen and features an open weave (strong, yet sheer fabric). The cloth itself is inherently flame retardant and is usually used for corporate events and trade shows, but they can be used for just about any event.
- Premier Drapes: premier offer a bit more class and are most commonly used as curtains for a school, business, banquet hall, or church. These are also inherently flame retardant.
- Commando Drapes: mostly only available in black, this drape is perfect for economical privacy drapes, blocking out 99% of light when backlit. Commando drapes feel similar to suede and are usually used for dressing rooms or conditions needing to be blacked out.
- Velour Drapes: velour drapes are the most flame retardant of the bunch and come in polyester. We usually see these used for VIP events and theatrical performances, but they can really be used for anything—just like the others.
When it comes to incorporating pipe and drape it all comes down to taste and the reason for the occasion. And we love helping customers decide on the perfect mix for the setup.
Stop worrying about the look of your next corporate event or tradeshow or brewery setup. Come in and see The Tent Guys today and let us do what we do best: make you look good.