Factors We Keep in Mind When Designing Shipping Container Environments


As Boxman Studios, COO Troy Selberg says, “Anyone with a blowtorch can modify a shipping container. Not everyone can turn them into awesome, and safe, brand experiences.” When customers approach us to build iconic shipping container environments, they often come with a vision of their final product and what they want to accomplish. Here are some basic considerations that we work through as we go from a steel canvas to a structurally safe, brand-centric experiential marketing experience:

Familiarization with the structure
  • There’s a reason why shipping containers are stacked the way they are on container ships: strength. However, just because this configuration works for transporting goods across oceans, this particular configuration isn’t the only option we have to work with at Boxman Studios. Our job is to figure out how to build structures that meet your goals while remaining structurally sound. And we have lots of options.
Creating a dedicated “back of house” for events

Ever hear of “cable spaghetti”? If you’re not sure, take a look behind your home entertainment center. You’ll likely see cords for your TV, DVR, modem, router, phone charger, and more. That’s “cable spaghetti.” In a shipping container exhibit or installation, there is no entertainment center to hide the cords behind. Planning a dedicated area to keep everything organized frees up valuable space in the exhibit and keeps people from tripping and ripping out your power cords.

Thinking about the cuts

For every cut that’s made, you lose some structural integrity. And it’s not as easy as taking a blowtorch to it to fix it. Once you start taking it apart, you have to add more steel to maintain structural integrity. We routinely remove entire walls of containers to accomplish our goals, but a lot goes on behind that simple design concept. The fewer cuts we make, the less we have to add back on, so every step is carefully calculated and executed.

The “Yes, but…” attitude

When you have a clear direction, we will find the best way to get you there. The first time Boxman Studios removed an entire wall was a fairly intense process and we asked ourselves a lot of questions. How is this going to work? What do we need to do to maintain integrity? These days, we routinely remove walls when building our structures. It’s all part of our ability to see beyond a problem to a solution. When we find them, we refine them, and add these solutions to our quiver of arrows.

The appeal of modified shipping containers for use as experiential environments is that the end result is bold and innovative. We continually investigate and test new ways to make, modify, and outfit our container structures. If there’s a good design idea, we examine it, develop options, and find a way to make it real. “Yes, we can remove a wall, but we have to add this support,” or “Yes, we can take this weight here but we have to counteract it over there.” If there’s a way to make it work, we find it. Even when that means creating solutions that no one has tried before.

The shipping container is our starting point. Our blank canvas. And our customers are never limited to its initial dimensions and configurations.