A cup of coffee with... Hans Grimme

Telling the story behind the product or service is what drives Hans in his designs, his concept therefore defines the execution.

After studying 3D Design at the Art Academy in Arnhem, Hans worked for several companies in the stand construction and interior design industry. For several years now, he has been doing so with verve at The Inside Standbouw in Deventer and we can call him a highly valued colleague.

Time for a coffee with our concept creator, Hans Grimme: read along below soon!

Tell me, what is really typical Hans?

Looking at things differently is normal for me. With that, I could -and still can- very much want to stick to a particular idea, concept or plan that was conceived by me. For example, I sometimes find it difficult when, after a presentation to the client, it turns out that there is a desire to modify a certain part. Nor does it have to mean that you always take a step beyond what is asked, but sometimes it is just another step. Delivering something that is not expected.

This is why I like Jules Deelder’s quote: ‘Within limits, the possibilities are as limitless as outside them’.

What question do you ask every (potential) client?

That’s a very simple and short question for me: ‘Why?’

In practice, this is sometimes quite a tricky question and so I often follow up with some more specific questions such as: “Why are you going to this fair?” and “Why should I buy your product? By answering these questions, it quickly becomes clear to me what a stand for the client needs to meet.


Why did you specialise in stand construction as a designer?

Something very exciting happens at a booth: a company develops a product or service and thinks it can build a future with it. That development of the product has often been a very intensive process for the client, involving trial and error, making investments or taking out loans. And then conclude the tweaking, testing and finalising everything in time for opening of the fair. In this process, I get to be part of the ultimate moment when the result of all the client’s efforts is made public. Since all this is happening LIVE there is no way to hide, the opdracthgever is going to come clean. And to design this process a large part of the facilities, I work directly on the introduction.

A LIVE production or introduction is the best way to gain the trust of your target audience. But even those companies with a product that does not change much, if at all, benefit from a powerful and good LIVE presentation. To keep gaining, or regaining, confidence, they too have to keep scratching themselves behind the ears. Here, you have to ask yourself the question: ‘what are we going to say next’. It is important to keep a feeling, show that you are still available for the client, keep listening and respond appropriately.

Initially, I trained as a product designer: think tables, chairs, lamps etcetera. I like the spatial form, being able to walk through something, hold or touch what I have conceived. Full of pride, I then see craftsmen in the workshop working on my inventions. I also love consulting with a project team on how to box something together. And even though my piece in the story of a booth does not have the immediate time pressure of a build onsite, I do feel it in order to sit with the client with a hit concept within the foreseeable future. That complete mix, that’s my addiction.

What is the coolest executed project you have ever designed?

It is not one special booth or project for me, for me the greatest pride is in trajectories where the customer relationship continues to evolve along the way. Trust each other, keep listening to each other after which together we can express ‘The Story’ in the best possible way in design and execution.

Of course, I have had the opportunity to include many great brand names and companies in my portfolio in recent years, but looking back at the more recent period, I am very proud of the concepts we are now implementing for Makita and CM.com, among others. Despite the fact that these are two incredibly different companies, I know how to strike the right chords with them during the design processes. And after execution, everything turns out to be right and the exhibition results for the client are excellent.

Which client is still on your bucket list?

Of course, I could name the biggest names here, but actually that’s not necessarily what I want to do. For me, that is working with a client with a product that is difficult to explain. The trickier the client’s product says something about itself, the more challenging it is for me to explain what this product does on the stand. I do this now, for example, with CM.com.

The challenge lies in the intangible;a cool car is a cool car in any setting. But when we talk about an app, service, system, journey, strategy and so on, that’s a whole different kettle of fish. So if I may hereby appeal: ‘software developers, governments, pharmaceuticals, start-ups, I’m here for you!’


Where do you get your inspiration from?

Mainly from the principal. I like to engage with the people who know the product best and can thus convey pride to me. The story of the creation, working out a cool idea, those stories bring me the inspiration for the design.

Although I sometimes feel a bit like a corporate psychologist, they tell the stories, I listen and translate what they tell into a ‘spatial thing’, which they eventually get to really work with to get their story out at the fair.

What ultimate tip do you give every client in relation to stand design?

‘That what you, as a company, want to tell, your potential customer does not always want to hear.’ Try to tell one story clearly. At a trade fair, a lot and a lot happens at the same time, you stand as a company among so many exhibitors: ‘one story that sticks is already very clever’.

At a fair, everything is LIVE, it gives space to meet new people, talk to each other and look deep into each other’s eyes. And in time, even literally shake hands again. By clearly conveying your story at the stand, you win the visitor’s trust. The human being is always at the heart of this.