Designing for Safety

Designing your floor plan with safety in mind

Isn’t it great to be able to design any floor plan you can think of? We think so! Safety is just as important as creativity, though, so we wanted to post this article to be sure you use our walls to achieve a great look for your gallery, as well as a safe experience for everyone involved.

Design with safety in mind to provide a fabulous experience for your patrons.

Perhaps the most important thing to keep in mind is that our portable walls serve to create the illusion of walls – many patrons may think they are real walls. While they are designed to have some of the functionality of walls, such as hanging pictures, it’s important to remember they are essentially props. Your job as the exhibit designer is to manage the delicate balance of maintaining the illusion of real walls, but also ensuring the safety of your patrons who may not understand the difference.

Although our heaviest walls weigh about 80 pounds, when connected the overall display can weigh several hundred pounds. Based on customer feedback, R&D, and testing experiences at our facility, we wanted share some notes on how to design your floor plan safely, while keeping things aesthetically awesome for your exhibit.

portable gallery walls kent state

At Pareti, we’re often asked whether our walls are capable of falling. The short answer to this is yes – with enough force the walls can be knocked over. That’s because mobile walls are not anchored to ceilings or floors. With enough force and/or uneven flooring, the walls can be brought down, but with proper assembly, a good design, proper leveling, the walls are stable, provided they are not pushed or bumped into. This is why you, as the designer, must be sure to incorporate enough counter-balance in your floor plan, and test the walls to be sure your design is sturdy.

Some things to keep in mind when designing your portable wall floor plan:

1. Museum etiquette – Keep your audience and venue in mind while designing your floor plan.

Observe your patrons. People react to the walls differently in different venues and situations. As the designer of your exhibit, you need to prepare for this factor as much as you would prepare your exhibit by curating or visual design. In short, that means keeping your patrons at a viewing distance only.

Over time we’ve been able to observe how people act around our portable wall systems. We’ve noticed some curious behaviors, depending on the type of venue, and the patrons the venue attracts.  “Museum etiquette” – meaning “look, don’t touch” – varies from place to place, show to show. Museum etiquette varies based on the formality of the exhibit, the manners or sophistication of patrons, the venue, and the age and/or supervision of the patrons, and whether museum staff are present.

People often act differently around portable exhibits set up in a busy shopping mall, a rock concert venue, or a quiet place such as a formal art gallery. We suggest that our customers staff employees to supervise exhibits whenever possible, most especially when in more active environments. In one outdoor, informal show a customer hired staff to observe patrons, as well as placing signs that read “Please don’t lean on the walls” to remind patrons that the walls are not permanent structures. Other customers who learned their patrons had a tendency to be more ‘hands-on’ placed items like pedestals (which we also sell) and flowers in front of the walls to help keep people at a 2-foot distance from the walls.

2. Watch your patrons and design accordingly.

Most patrons who observe general museum etiquette stand about three feet from the walls to observe what’s displayed. This also generally applies to trade show displays, since most attendees as a general rule don’t touch the exhibit. Other venues, such as casinos, public events, or exhibits for children often attracts patrons who may desire to interact with, or touch the walls. (Touching isn’t bad, but patrons should be told not to lean or push against the walls.)

Many Pareti customers use our standard “I” shaped display configuration, but we advise this is used only in places that are level and have patrons which display good museum etiquette, and do not have displays on the walls which invite interaction. For the safety of your patrons, always design your floor plans with the safest possible floor plan, and test the set-up of your walls before you open your exhibit.

3. Tackle uneven flooring

We’ve learned that almost no floor is completely level. That’s why we include adjustable feet on each wall section. Your floor plan design should also include additional counter balance to be certain the portable walls don’t tilt or move due to uneven flooring. Pareti’s Mobile Walls are designed to be easily modified by purchasing common items from your local hardware store to help remedy severely uneven flooring. For example, “L” brackets or other items can be easily attached to fasten existing Pareti walls to one of your permanent walls.

Pareti also offers special walls with inset sides which make attaching Pareti’s walls to a permanent wall extremely simple. Be sure to ask your sales representative about these walls, which are available at no extra charge – and still offer our universal connectivity to other Pareti Mobile Walls.

4. Set up safely

Don’t assemble the walls alone. At minimum, assemble the walls with two people. In some cases, you will need a person (or even two people) to hold the wall as it’s assembled until a corner and lengths are added. Custom walls which feature doors, or taller walls are heavier than our standard 8′ foot wall sections. These will require special attention and additional assistance during set-up.

5. Design like a room

The most stable wall designs either resemble a square room, or have a roman cross type of configuration (+), which features equidistant counter-balance.

6. Test your design

Since our walls are not anchored to your ceiling or floor, it’s important to test your design’s stability by attempting to gently rock the walls to be sure they are stable. Since our walls connect to each other universally, you can easily change around your configuration if needed before patrons are around your exhibit.

Pareti Mobile Walls meets the needs exhibit designers face, such as easy set up, a great look, and easy maintenance – all while hanging artwork intuitively, as you would a real wall. We constantly strive to improve our products, and want to be sure our customers and their patrons are consistently please with our products. We hope these tips will help you make the most of our products!

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