Exhibit design with an ID degree?

Hi everyone!

I want to be an exhibit designer but I’m really confused about a few things.

  1. Do I need a degree in architecture to be doing this kind of work? (I’m an industrial design major)

  2. I’ve learned how to use Solidworks so far.
    Are there any other modeling/rendering programs that I should learn to be an exhibit designer?
    I heard something about Cinema 4D…

  3. How do you pursue a career in exhibit design if you’re not an architect? (specifically, science & children’s museum)

I chose ID because I wanted to design toys at first. I still like toys but exhibit design is also something I’ve become really passionate about. I’d really appreciate your advice on this.


I know a couple of people that have ID degrees and work in exhibit design. You dont need to be an architect, but you do need to have a strong mechanical aptitude. Most of the exhibit design firms will have a basic set of support structures that you will be constained to. You will need to know how to manipulate this foundation to get creative. Unfortunately, most of this field seems to lean more on trade show booth design than museum areas. However, I have a friend that built up a childrens museum and his company primarily did trade show stuff.

As far as the software goes, its a total crap shoot. You can take your pick on 3ds max, C4D, modo, even sketchup. It seems most people use Vray as the render engine on all of these programs.

You absolutely do not need an architecture degree to work in exhibit design. Most of the exhibit designers I know ARE industrial designers…it was one of four ID specialities at CCSCAD when I was there from '92-'95 (now College for Creative Studies; Redirecting... )

As with most any ID specialty, though, a strong mechanical aptitude coupled with a sensitivity to marketing & communications would enable you to be a strong exhibit team member.

I’d agree with the above statements. Most large exhibit houses have a resident architect to handle all projects and provide structures for the designers to work with. The smaller ones just have industry specific structures to work with.