Trade Show TalesBlog

How to Choose Your Exhibit Furniture

June 2nd, 2023 COMMENTS
Exhibit Furniture

What does “trade show exhibit furniture” mean to you? This is not a trick question. If you said, all the components in a booth that you sit on, lean on, or write on, you would generally be right. 

In my experience, newer exhibitors have a broader definition of trade show booth furniture or furnishings. To them, it includes counters, pedestals, and workstations, in addition to tables, chairs, plants, and ottomans. Those with a few more exhibition gray hairs tend to separate the counters, pedestals, and workstations from the more casual furniture like sofas, office chairs, bistro tables, and charging stands. Nothing wrong with that. Historically it’s been the difference between what an exhibitor buys and what an exhibitor rents. However, that’s changing… rapidly. Let’s explore the when, why, and what of trade show furniture. The who and where are probably self-explanatory. 😉 

Why Invest in Exhibit Furniture?

Not long ago, exhibit furniture was mostly an island exhibit luxury. Inlines would occasionally have a basic bistro table and chairs, but it was considered an Exhibiting 101 faux pas. 

Not anymore. Exhibit furniture, like tables, chairs, sofas, and even ottomans, in custom and rental exhibits are ubiquitous. Clients are encouraged to linger, charge their phones, and chat. In fact, many exhibitors are adding food and drink options to create a casual and comfortable environment. If you’ve ever attended a European trade show, you know that offering guests something to eat and drink is both polite and customary.

As you explore your exhibit furniture options, you just might be surprised by the wide range of contemporary, upscale, and affordable designs. 

Renting vs. Buying Exhibition Furniture

You’ve decided to add furniture to your booth. First, you’ll need to decide whether to buy or rent furniture. Both are viable options, depending on your budget and design requirements. 

Buying Exhibit Furniture


  • You own it. It’s yours after the show. 
  • Unlimited design options
  • If used multiple times, it’s less expensive than renting
  • Branding options


  • Shipping cost and inconvenience
  • Possible damage
  • Possible assembly
  • Initial expense

Renting Exhibit Furniture 


  • Lower upfront cost
  • No shipping or storage
  • No damage concerns
  • No assembly
  • Design flexibility from show to show


  • Fewer design options than purchasing
  • More expensive over multiple shows
  • Limited branding options

Types of Trade Show Booth Furniture

Trade show furniture delivers style and service to create a comfortable and productive space. Below are the most common types of exhibit furniture.

Casual Seating

Bar/Cafe Tables and Chairs 

  • Bar Tables – 30” R x 42” H Bar Height Tables
  • Cafe Tables – 30” R x 29” H Casual Tables
  • Barstools – Bar Height Chairs and Stools
  • Bars – Curved Bars with and without Accent Lighting 

Conference Tables and Chairs

  • Conference Tables – Rectangle and Round Conference Tables
  • Conference Chairs – Adjustable Chairs for Desks or Conference Tables
  • Office Furniture – Dividers, Desks, Bookcases


10 Exhibit Furniture Examples

1. Key Largo Chair, Loveseat, and Sofa: Comfortable upholstered black fabric chair with wood legs. Also available as a loveseat and sofa. 

trade show booth furniture

2. Malibu Chair:  Distinctive teal velvet chair with armrests and black legs. 

trade show furnishings

3. Beverly Oasis Small, Medium, and Large: Modern sectional group in three sizes and 11 colors like lavender, orange, red, and olive green. 

exhibition furniture

4. Endless Low Back S Curve Sectional: Fabulous and funky green velvet sectional with channel stitching. Complete with 6  curved chairs and two half-round ottomans. 

trade show booth furniture

5. Geo Cocktail and End Tables: Upscale cocktail and end tables with either chrome or back base and glass or wood countertop.

exhibit table

6. Cafe Table with Black Base: 36” round cafe table (29” H) is a trade show favorite as an informal meeting table. Four countertop colors:  maple, white, graphite nebula, and black. 

small trade show table

7. Christopher Chair; Distinctive conference chair with woven back and padded vinyl seat. Great for exhibits, lounges, or dining.

exhibition chair

8. 8 ft. Powered Conference Table:  AC-powered conference table with two outlets and 4 USB ports. Black laminate top and silver base. 

powered trade show table

9. Midtown Powered Counter:  Metallic pewter gray curved counter with taupe-colored glass top, charging outlets, and locking storage cabinets. Countertops are available in multiple colors.  

trade show counter

10. Banana Barstool: The iconic banana barstool is both attractive and comfortable. Available in black and white vinyl with chrome frame. 

trade show barstools

Trade Show Furnishings: Factors to Consider

Trade shows, events, and meetings are more productive by creating interactive environments with functional furniture and furnishings. Consider the following with choosing the right rental options:


Rental furniture and furnishings should be functional, attractive, and match the overall design of your booth. Sometimes that’s easy. Sometimes not. For larger shows and popular trade show destinations, like Las Vegas, Orlando, and Chicago, there are multiple furniture companies with varied inventories. Work with your exhibit house when choosing your rental furniture. They have resources and contacts that may not be readily available to the typical exhibitor. 


Rental furniture may seem pricey at first glance, but it’s important to remember that you’re paying for convenience, design, and cleanliness. Rental companies update their inventory often and clean them after each show. 


This may sound obvious, but rental furniture should be functional and serve a purpose. All too often, choices are made for aesthetic or design reasons (it’s the right color or it looks comfortable or it’s cheaper than other options). Don’t make that mistake. For example, if you’re going to be giving presentations, you’ll need tables and chairs that can accommodate your audience. 


This can vary so always ask for details. Some rental furniture companies have agreements with the General Service Contractor. The agreement enables them to deliver furniture and accessories directly to your booth, often without drayage or material handling fees. That’s a big deal. What may seem to be an amazing price from one rental provider may in fact be painfully expensive once the drayage fee is included.  

Customer Service

No one wants headaches on the show floor. Most rental furniture companies will respond quickly to issues before and during the show. Stuff happens but how companies respond sets them apart. Be sure to ask your exhibit house about their experience with the rental furniture provider. 

Standout Exhibit Furniture with Classic Exhibits

Classic Exhibits makes the selection process easy with over 200 rental furniture designs, Choose from a broad selection of casual soft seating in an array of colors, tables in multiple heights, diameters, and finishes, and chairs ranging from funky to functional. 

Classic Exhibits has been designing and building solutions since 1993. We’ve been honored as an Exhibitor Magazine Find-It Top 40 Exhibit Producers and an Event Marketer Fab 50 Exhibit Builders multiple times. Along with numerous Portable Modular Awards. 

With over 200 Distributor Partners throughout North America, there’s a Classic representative close by to assist with any project. Contact us today whether you need an inline rental display, a double-deck island exhibit, or a contemporary kiosk rental. At Classic, we’re not just different. We’re better.



Leave a Reply