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ExpoGuys’ creative approach to sustainable exhibition design and business practice

In the world of exhibition design, sustainability is no longer just a trend; it’s a necessity. Leading this eco-conscious revolution is Nicholas De Klerk, a visionary designer with a passion for sustainable practices both in everyday life and in the exhibition industry.

As the Creative Director for ExpoGuys, he has been instrumental in redefining how exhibition stands are conceptualised and built, integrating principles of sustainability that resonate with our daily environmental responsibilities. In this way, Nicholas and ExpoGuys are setting new standards in sustainable exhibition design, reflecting a broader commitment to eco-friendly practices.

Sustainable design philosophy

Nicholas’ approach to exhibition stand design is deeply rooted in recycling and utilising waste materials. His love for using “rubbish” in his designs, as evident from his Instagram handle @junktalkstome, showcases his dedication to repurposing materials creatively. ‘I love using rubbish,’ he proudly declares.

Reflecting everyday sustainability

At ExpoGuys, sustainability is ingrained in their operations, influenced by Nicholas’ vision. The company strives to reduce its carbon footprint and maximise material reuse. ‘We make a massive effort to reduce our carbon footprint and reuse as much material as we can,’ explains Nicholas. This commitment is evident in their preference for system stands over custom stands.

‘Although we build everything from shell schemes to custom stands, the majority are system stands with custom elements,’ he adds. These stands are sustainable due to their reusability, reducing reliance on single-use materials like wood. ‘The system itself is incredibly sustainable as you use it over and over again,’ he adds, highlighting the contrast with 100% custom stands that may end up as waste.

Promoting material lifecycle management

ExpoGuys extends its sustainability commitment beyond reusable stands. They adopt a full lifecycle approach to materials, an initiative led by Nicholas. Unusable wood donated and is repurposed into furniture, while furniture no longer suitable for hire is donated for reuse. This approach extends the life of materials and supports various causes.

Additionally, ExpoGuys promotes the use of fabric banner graphics, printed in-house, for repeated use on their stands. In a significant step to minimise their transportation-related carbon footprint, ExpoGuys extrudes their own aluminium in their factory, ensuring quality control and reducing emissions.

Educating and influencing the industry

His role in the industry extends beyond design. He educates and inspires others toward sustainable practices through talks and presentations. His lecture series, “Junk Talks to Me” addresses sustainability in design. His talk for the Greening Council and his keynote address at the IFAS conference in Turkey are prime examples of his influence. Nicholas’ recognition in the OOFY’s recycling competition further highlights his sustainable material use, leading to invitations for talks at various conferences.

His engagements have been crucial in promoting sustainability in the exhibition industry, with his talks emphasising the creative and responsible use of everyday items in exhibition stands, inspiring the industry toward sustainable practices.

ExpoGuys embraces solar power for sustainable operations

In addition to their commitment to sustainable exhibition design, ExpoGuys has recently taken a bold step to further solidify their dedication to eco-friendly practices by implementing a state-of-the-art solar system at their Johannesburg offices. The three-phase industrial system with high voltage, features 90 solar panels on the roof and 50 KWh batteries, all expandable to meet the company’s energy needs.

With solar power as their primary energy source, they can harness up to 50 KVa of clean energy, significantly reducing their environmental impact. Excess energy is stored for use during cloudy days or at night. Eskom electricity supply and a backup generator serve as a last resort only. This sustainable energy approach aligns seamlessly with ExpoGuys’ broader mission of responsible and innovative exhibition stand design, ensuring uninterrupted operations while reducing their carbon footprint.


ExpoGuys and Nicholas are at the forefront of combining creativity with sustainability in exhibition design. Their innovative use of recycled and repurposed materials sets a benchmark in the industry. Their holistic approach to sustainability, from design philosophy to energy solutions, sets a powerful example for the industry, proving that a commitment to environmental responsibility can be at the core of successful and innovative business practices.

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