An Interview with Kim Bradbury, Managing Director, of Cook + Associates

An Interview with Kim Bradbury, Managing Director, of Cook + Associates

 

Kim Bradbury headshot

 

1) How much does it mean to you, to be a World Exhibition Stand Awards 2022 Finalist?

To be finalists in the World Exhibition Stand Awards is an honour for Cook + Associates. It’s a real celebration of our team’s passion and creativity throughout the challenges of the past two years, as well as highlighting the continued successes our clients are enjoying on both the digital and physical show floors.

When we rebranded back in 2020, it was with the commitment to exceed the expectations of an ever-changing world, continuing to create incredible brand spaces that fuel conversations and ignite brand engagement. To be recognised on a global scale as finalists is a reward for all our efforts as we continue to embrace that commitment.

2) What experiences have your team overcome in the past year to successfully deliver for your clients?

The uncertainty of the past 2 years has forced immense change, the likes of which the events industry has never seen. As with most players within the industry, the pandemic accelerated the evolution of our capabilities to meet the needs of our clients in a new version of normal. Virtual and Hybrid experiences bought new and unsuspecting challenges, requiring cutting-edge creativity and a rapid development in knowledge to ensure we continued delivering the same level of experiences.

And the challenges didn’t stop coming! When physical events came back in full swing, we had to adapt our workforce and working patterns once again to achieve a new version of normal. As the rules of communication shift back to human connection and interaction, we had to take the knowledge from the past few years to become smarter, wiser, and stronger across all aspects of our organisation – in terms of innovation, sustainability, and operations.

3) What are clients currently asking for in stand and experience design?

There is a growing appetite for live event experiences, that’s a given. The show floor naturally creates an environment that thrives on connectivity and communication, ultimately helping industries to evolve and grow. As our clients emerge from the near global lockdown, there is a need to be bigger and better to stand out from the crowd.

The developments in digital immersion that applied during the pandemic are now beginning to filter their way back into the show floor. Engaging innovations and hybrid technologies are becoming more popular as clients look for new ways to showcase their brands.

Sustainability, however, is the major word on the street. We’re continually looking at new ways to integrate biophilic design, digital alternatives, and re-use materials to lower the carbon footprint of our exhibition stands and events.

4) What future changes do you anticipate happening in the exhibition industry over the next two years?

We live in a world that has been quite literally turned upside down and the exhibition industry has yet to find its new level as a result. Clients are also using the experience to confront previous conceptions and effect fundamental changes in their brand strategy and approach. The emphasis will, we believe, continue to focus on sustainability as every organisation works to address the all too tangible impact of climate change, cost escalation and global difficulties. This puts the emphasis on two key elements – creativity and value – with agencies under greater scrutiny to deliver on all counts.

For Cook + Associates, this represents a natural progression, enabling us to prioritise our skillset and resourcefulness across all aspects of planning and delivery. Our clients are demanding more reusability, careful materials selection, and consideration of carbon footprint factors, as well as how to combine the benefits of a hybrid strategy rather than just physical events. Creating immersive experiences with state-of-the-art digital tools plays to the value argument, providing much wider usability across multiple platforms. Agencies will be increasingly required to think outside of the box, get more involved in strategic engagement and partner corporate teams to create a new generation of deeply memorable experiences that cross the boundaries of physical and digital spaces. We are embarking on the next round of a truly exciting journey!