A Review of Mobile World Congress

A new world, invisible connectivity and personal journey.


It barely gets to March 1st before the team at 4D begin analysing this year’s Mobile World Congress and looking ahead to what’s next for the show. Such is the fast pace of the events world.

This year, we were excited to feel change in the air. Amongst the cries of “GSM is dead”, “IoT is here” and “virtual reality is now” there was a definite shift in how exhibitors presented themselves at the show.

If you could see past the noise, the banners and the immersive technology, you would see this mirrored in the designs of the stands that you passed. The openness, the homely feel to the stands, the greens and the warm tans and woods that replaced the once clinical spaces of Samsung and even Microsoft. The stands at this year’s show clearly said ‘come in, take a seat’, leaving exclusivity firmly at the airport.

So what trends did we see at Mobile World Congress (MWC to its friends) this year in Barcelona as we walked the halls of some of our most important clients? Step inside and see for yourself…

A new world

The next element revealed at Mobile World Congress 2017 was one firmly positioned around new, fresh ideas. Rather than feeling overtly stuffy – a members only club, which many brands have defined their presence by in the past, the doors were open to anyone who wished to come in. The focus was on conveying openness and a sense of social responsibility, both considerably human and designed to welcome. Intel led by interactive stories whilst Google’s Android seeped into every hall, led by the cute Google Android robot, producing its ever-coveted pin badges.

This seems essential in an ever-connected world – for visitors and proprietors to feel that the innovation is human-led rather than science or technology focused. This is why we saw a huge trend in stand design where the message led towards inclusivity– a world that everyone and every industry is about to become a part of.

Invisible connectivity

Another overriding theme – both in design and concept, was an invisible connectivity that mirrors the invisible force of the Internet of Things (IoT). At widescale, the IoT will be a force that works hard to save us time, money and resource across all industries. This was mirrored in the designs of stand presences such as our client Vasona, where we opened up both sides of the stand, to allow visitors to pass through almost without realising.

The Vasona stand was eye-catching, using creative mobile hangings to allow visitors to absorb Vasona’s brand values and help them be remembered. The texture and colour was used to entrance and engage on first look, while remaining true to Vasona’s brand values and wider marketing message. At the same time, the stand was intimate, with the journey led by the visitor who could appear from either side along with a 90º edge corner LED display that ensured the journey continued through both sides, joining up each visual identity into one secure space.

This level of invisible connectivity – a connectivity which is easy, fluid and natural is a key theme for many brands at the show and will continue to take precedence for 2018.

Personal experience

While a large part of the show focused on endless connectivity as an underpinning of the next element, there was also a focus on personal experience. The endless connected world could have become overwhelming in a show with such scale as MWC, so it was a key consideration for many of the exhibitors to incorporate a more journey-led experience.

This was reflected in the design for our client ARM who, having exhibited at leading industry shows for over eight years, were keen to refresh their offering for 2017 against a backdrop of new connectivity. We led the design with engagement solutions, an LED screen wall (4.5m x 3.5m) and an LED screen balcony with edge corner (6.5m x 1m) and content to communicate key messaging to their visitors. Building the experience around the space available, also meant we created an upper storage and meeting space. So that visitors could wander on (and wander on they did), explore, connect and then only if they wish, be taken into a quieter space for reflection and further conversation. All of which took place within just 70 square metres of space.

So what next?

Whereas once Mobile World Congress used to be the place where we found out about the latest smartphone, wearable or car, it’s now evolved into a place where the entire picture of our future crystalises. Drones, virtual reality and IoT will continue to emerge at the fore of Mobile World Congress 2018 but all will be underpinned by humaneness, personality and security.

It’s seriously exciting to see the blend of the three and where this will take next year’s stand designs. We already have a few ideas. To book a design and strategy workshop for your stand at Mobile World Congress 2018 contact Suzanne Malhotra


Written by Suzanne Malhotra