Sundance Film Festival 2013 – Park City, UT – January 17-27Read More
Sundance Film Festival 2013 – Park City, UT – January 17-27Read Less
Did you get engaged over the Holidays? With wedding season only a few months away, there is no doubt that brides and grooms are honing down on all of their wedding plans. When it comes to renting furniture for your wedding, FormDecor has everything you need to help you create the perfect setting, from the….Read More
Did you get engaged over the Holidays? With wedding season only a few months away, there is no doubt that brides and grooms are honing down on all of their wedding plans. When it comes to renting furniture for your wedding, FormDecor has everything you need to help you create the perfect setting, from the ceremony to the reception — and beyond. See the pictures below for some beautiful wedding inspiration to help you get started!
In this shoot, styled by Colette’s Events, FormDecor’s Gold Finger Lounge Chair, Florence Knoll Classic Sofa, Ginger Jar Lamp, Argus Table, Sputnik Lamp and Vertebrae Screen were used to create a gorgeous lounge for guests to mingle in style during the reception.
Don’t forget the cocktails! Serve your guests lavish drinks from FormDecor’s Bark Bar, accompanied by the Vertebrae Screens, Drake Tea Cart and Drake Shelf to give your wedding a Hollywood Regency feel.
For the unconventional bride, FormDecor has an array of designs to suit your style. In this shoot, styled by Magnolia Rouge Magazine, FormDecor’s Split Rail Love Seat and Lounge Chair, Florence Knoll Bench, Delano Credenza and Chrysalis Screen create a very unique, urban chic setting.
Still looking for some more inspiration? Check out this Black & Yellow Wedding, Diane Valentine’s ‘I Do Over’ Office, or this beautiful Indian Wedding. No matter what design or theme you are going for, FormDecor has everything you need to create a one-of-a-kind setting on your wedding day!Read Less
Photo: Nadine Froger Photography Awards season is upon us, and like everyone, we are excited to see what they bring in terms of entertainment, fashion and design. The 70th Annual Golden Globes, which took place this Sunday, did not disappoint. We were especially inspired by the following stunning designs and visuals during the after parties….Read More
Photo: Nadine Froger Photography
Awards season is upon us, and like everyone, we are excited to see what they bring in terms of entertainment, fashion and design. The 70th Annual Golden Globes, which took place this Sunday, did not disappoint. We were especially inspired by the following stunning designs and visuals during the after parties at the Beverly Hilton… take a look for yourself!
The ‘InStyle’ and Warner Brothers after party featured a shimmering gold metal chandelier that was 20 ft wide and included 15,000 hand-tied hanging gold metal disc strands… if only it would fit in our homes!
Abel McCallister designed the deliciously decorated Godiva Suite at the ‘InStyle’ and Warner Bros party. With six chocolate inscriptions of the word “Love” on rose-petal walls, the room looked good enough to eat!
The ‘InStyle’ lounge created by Carevents, where guests could retreat and freshen up in between parties.
Outside in the Circa 55 restaurant, Billy Butchkavitz heated up the HBO after party, providing a beach-like atmosphere with black sand, pops of fuschia and patterns similar to those in Rio de Janeiro… a stark contrast from the chilly winter day!
What were some of your favorite Golden Globe moments?Read Less
Philippe Starck is one of the most prolific and recognized designers of our time. Born in Paris in 1949, Starck has utilized his natural abilities in design and marketing to build an impressive portfolio of design projects and licensing ventures. Though he never finished school, Philippe Starck obviously learned quickly from his early experience designing….Read More
Philippe Starck is one of the most prolific and recognized designers of our time. Born in Paris in 1949, Starck has utilized his natural abilities in design and marketing to build an impressive portfolio of design projects and licensing ventures. Though he never finished school, Philippe Starck obviously learned quickly from his early experience designing nightclub interiors in Paris in the 1970’s. His emerging notoriety led to a job designing one of the apartments of the Elysee Palace in 1982 for President Francois Mitterand.
Thereafter, Starck’s career went into overdrive as he quickly designed stylish interiors for 4 popular boutique hotels: the Mondrian (LA), the Delano (Miami), and the Paramount and Royalton Hotels (NY). Though each project has its own charm, they’re all imbued with Starck’s characteristic style, a mix of whimsical elegance and engaging materials and forms.
Translating this avant-garde style to furniture and housewares, Starck has already achieved icon status with many of his designs, such as the stylized “Juicy Salif” for Alessi and the “Louis Ghost” chair for Kartel. Philippe Starck is particularly known for his unusual combinations that seem to contradict their function. The “Louis Ghost” chair and “La Marie” chair are superb examples of his design concept, both of them elegant seating unexpectedly constructed of crystal-clear polycarbonate.
Despite his fame, Starck’s designs are purposely accessible to the average consumer. Concentrating on designing for the mass-produced market, Philippe Starck has ensured his lasting relevance by creating a variety of unique, stylish products for everyday life. Not stopping at furniture and housewares, Starck continues to expand his design reach to include motorbikes, boats, packaging for a beer company, a mouse for Microsoft, and even a “spaceport” for the new Virgin Galactic! Undoubtedly, we will be living with (and enjoying) Philippe Starck’s designs for decades to come.
FormDecor’s special selection of Philippe Starck designs is available to rent HERE.Read Less
What are you doing New Year’s Eve? Why not go for All That Glitters to add some sparkle to your NYE event? For those who wish to be ahead of the curve, Emerald is Pantone’s Color of the Year for 2013. If you’re looking to be as dapper as Don Draper, Mad Men Musings will….Read More
What are you doing New Year’s Eve? Why not go for All That Glitters to add some sparkle to your NYE event? For those who wish to be ahead of the curve, Emerald is Pantone’s Color of the Year for 2013. If you’re looking to be as dapper as Don Draper, Mad Men Musings will take you from cocktails, birthdays and even weddings. Whether you’re planning on dancing your way to the New Year at an event, or simply counting down at home with cocktails and a few friends, make sure start off the new year in STYLE!
Emerald City – Pantone’s Color of the Year for 2013
Russell Harris Event Group took a walk on the wild side for the after party celebrating the premier of the X-Factor’s second season. Guests prowled through Sadie Los Angeles and wandered to FormDecor’s earth toned Modular Cube Series, Flare Side Tables and Leste Verte Pillows. X-Factor status? We think so! Come explore the photos!Read More
Russell Harris Event Group took a walk on the wild side for the after party celebrating the premier of the X-Factor’s second season. Guests prowled through Sadie Los Angeles and wandered to FormDecor’s earth toned Modular Cube Series, Flare Side Tables and Leste Verte Pillows. X-Factor status? We think so! Come explore the photos!
Who has amazing design talent, an energetic soul and knows his career inside and out? Russell Harris of Russell Harris Event Group! FormDecor caught up with Russell during this busy event season for an interview for the Featured Professionals Blog. In our one-on-one with Russell, you’ll learn how he made a career out of event….Read More
Who has amazing design talent, an energetic soul and knows his career inside and out? Russell Harris of Russell Harris Event Group! FormDecor caught up with Russell during this busy event season for an interview for the Featured Professionals Blog. In our one-on-one with Russell, you’ll learn how he made a career out of event planning, what he’s most passionate about and what continues to drive him to succeed.
FormDecor: When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Russell Harris: Being from Texas we were raised in sports. My sport was Tennis and it was my dream to be a professional tennis player. As a High School Senior it changed to Olympic Volleyball when my cousin was playing with a team and invited me to play.
One of the players on the team took an interest in my ability, started to coach me and I found a new love… VOLLEYBALL! In Texas, playing Volleyball wasn’t really considered a “men’s sport” so I got a late start. At age 25, I got to play for a US Club team in Europe; it was then that I realized the early twenties were considered the retirement age.
FD: At what point in your life did you realize you had the talent to plan events?
RH: My first job when I moved to LA was a personal assistant to a Hollywood Columnist at the Hollywood Reporter. Dealing with his private schedule and rsvp’ing for events, I came across every major event company in Los Angeles. After I left the Hollywood Reporter, I worked for a Neon Rental company that did décor for all the major events. That’s when I realized my talent and dream job.
FD: What was the first event you planned? Do you have photos to share?
RH: The first event was an Oscar party for a dot company called “HSX.com” and it was one of the largest post parties in Los Angeles. We took over the House of Blues on Sunset Boulevard, tented the whole parking lot, carpeted the entire driveway, and made a 100’ step and repeat on the sidewalk.
The budget was large and I had carte blanche on design, so I chose Asian inspiration. With technology progressing, we took “Feng Shui” and made it “Tech Shui”. We had the opportunity of having a Feng Shui Master come to our event and walk the space. He gave us a blessing and critiqued our event flow. It’s his words that have been my foundation ever since.
FD: Most recently, you planned a successful After Party for X-Factor which took place at Sadie in Los Angeles… What challenges did you face and how did you overcome them?
RH: The challenge was to create more seating including VIP areas for the X-Factor judges. The main thing was to use furniture that complimented the existing venue design. I overcame the challenge by calling Jeff Sigler [FormDecor, VP of Sales]. He and I had been to a networking event at Sadie a couple weeks earlier. So when I talked to Jeff he had the perfect solution to our challenge.
FD: You’ve been in the event industry for more than 20 years. How is the world of special events today different from when you started?
RH: When I started in the industry, there was no education, courses, or books on how to plan an event. It was learn as you go, watch other people, and don’t make the same mistake twice. Now, young professionals in the field have college courses, certifications, and conferences with peers, which is priceless.
One thing I am grateful for is that I was able to work on many high-end events where I learned the life lesson to be a good listener. Listening to what the client wants is the starting point in all of my events and my focus is to understand their priorities and goals to deliver a successful event.
FD: You’ve had lots of success with high-profiled clients, like FOX, The Walt Disney Studios, American Heart Association and more. What “words of wisdom” do you have to share with up and coming professionals working with high-profiled clients?
RH: Research. Always know who your client is. The industry is very vast with resources so you should always have knowledge on all the new ideas, design, and technology. With good research, you can always find something new and engaging. Presentation is everything.
My favorite resource is my industry colleagues. A lot of us have been in the industry for many years, seen everything, and done it all. I truly believe in relationships, networking and referrals.
FD: If you could choose one design of FormDecor’s for your home or office, what would it be? Why does that one design stand out among the rest for you?
RH: I like the Bubble collection by Philippe Starck. I’m a big fan of simplicity; it’s more elegant and sophisticated. My number one rule is “lighting will make it or break it” and with this design you get the best of both.
FD: When you’re not working, what do you love to do?
RH: I’m a big Equestrian. I have a horse named Meritage that I spend all my free time riding and showing. I’ve been riding in the Gold Coast Series at the LA Equestrian Center, the Verdugo Hills Show at my facility, and recently rode in the Santa Barbara Show.
What I love most is the athleticism of the sport. Her athletic ability is amazing when it comes to height jumps. She’s moved up to the 1-meter class and won in the last two shows we’ve entered. The combination of the rider’s ability and the horse’s ability becomes a winning combination.
FD: What are you most proud of in your life?
RH: I’m a big dreamer with very high goals. In my life I’ve been given many obstacles that were extremely hard to overcome. One of my clients told me one time that I was a “Phoenix”. I always rose from the ashes. I’m most proud of the fact that I’ve accomplished every goal I’ve made no matter the circumstances and I’m blessed to look forward to more new adventures.
My company is growing and every day is a new adventure with new clients and new challenges. The biggest accomplishment is finally being able to do a Super Bowl party for a corporate client. I think 2013 is going to be a great year for all event industry peeps!
FD: If you had one legacy to leave behind, what would it be?
RH: Dream. People sometimes mistake dreaming as being irresponsible. I’m from a small Texas town in the middle of nowhere with big dreams. The most successful people in the world are the ones that take the biggest risks and because of that, I think I’ve been quite successful.Read Less
Out of this World! Atomic Design has launched their West Coast office, and their “Rocket Ship Pop- Up Showcase” landed right in the middle of Hollywood. FormDecor furnished the event, giving guests the A-List treatment. The Victoria II Sofa placed against a draped fabric wall accented with the Rococo Coffee Table and Charlemagne Chair made everyone feel like a movie star…See all the….Read More
Out of this World! Atomic Design has launched their West Coast office, and their “Rocket Ship Pop- Up Showcase” landed right in the middle of Hollywood. FormDecor furnished the event, giving guests the A-List treatment. The Victoria II Sofa placed against a draped fabric wall accented with the Rococo Coffee Table and Charlemagne Chair made everyone feel like a movie star…See all the action!
George Nelson was an American industrial designer, and one of the founders of American Modernism. As Director of Design for Herman and owner of his own design studio, George Nelson Associates, Inc., Nelson was responsible for many of the 20th century’s most iconic modernist furniture designs. George Nelson attended Yale University, and happened upon the….Read More
George Nelson was an American industrial designer, and one of the founders of American Modernism. As Director of Design for Herman and owner of his own design studio, George Nelson Associates, Inc., Nelson was responsible for many of the 20th century’s most iconic modernist furniture designs.
George Nelson attended Yale University, and happened upon the architecture school because of a rainstorm, ducking into the building in order to stay dry. Walking though the building, he came upon an exhibit of students’ work entitled “A Cemetery Gateway”. Prior to this, he had no interest in becoming an architect! He graduated from Yale in 1928 with a degree in architecture, after gaining recognition during his undergraduate years working as a drafter at Adams and Prentice and in publications such as “Pencil Points” and “Architecture” magazine.
In 1931, after receiving a second bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts from Yale, Nelson was awarded the Rome Prize, which was a year studying architecture with a heavy stipend and accommodations in a palace in Rome. Nelson traveled through Europe, where he met a number of modernist pioneers, including Mies van der Rohe, Le Corbusier and Gio Ponti.
George Nelson went on to contribute as an editorial staff member of Architectural Forum magazine in 1935 where he continually defended the modernist principles. During this time Nelson spent a great deal of time interviewing and exchanging ideas with the other founders of the modernist architecture movement of the forties, including the Eames, all of whom he would later collaborate with. By 1940 George Nelson had authored a book with Henry Wright, “Tomorrow’s House”, in which he introduced modern concepts such as “the family room”, and “storage wall.” After reading the book, Herman Miller Chairman D.J. Dupree selected Nelson to be the company’s director of design. Despite having no experience in furniture design, Depree hired Nelson based on his insight into creating furniture that was innovative and useful. Over the years, Nelson’s work with Herman Miller would include some of the most iconic furnishings of the 20th century including the Eames, Harry Bertoia, and Isamu Noguchi in it’s catalogue.
Using the money he earned at Herman Miller, Nelson opened George Nelson Associates, Inc. in New York City, where he once again brought together some of the top designers of the era, and by the time the company closed in the mid-1980s, it had worked with most of the Fortune 500 companies of that time.
FormDecor’s special selections of George Nelson furnishings are available to rent HERE [LINK].
Here come the Delivery Dudes… Right down holiday lane! “Rain or Shine”, FormDecor’s Delivery Dudes are standing by and ready to deliver your holiday event decor! Watch the FormDecor Delivery Dudes ZIP through their daily schedule! With exceptional customer service and an upbeat attitude, the FormDecor Delivery Dudes make your delivery of furnishings QUICK and easy. Don’t believe….Read More
Here come the Delivery Dudes… Right down holiday lane! “Rain or Shine”, FormDecor’s Delivery Dudes are standing by and ready to deliver your holiday event decor! Watch the FormDecor Delivery Dudes ZIP through their daily schedule!
With exceptional customer service and an upbeat attitude, the FormDecor Delivery Dudes make your delivery of furnishings QUICK and easy. Don’t believe it? Check out the #DeliveryDudes Video: “Rain or Shine!”
Want more…? Grab another holiday cookie and tune into the FormDecor YouTube Channel for a variety of FUN FormDecor features!
Go retro, go stylish – GO MODERN!Read Less
‘Tis the Season! This holiday season, whether your planning to be Naughty or Nice, Merry or Mod or anything in between, we have just what you’re looking for! Check out our holiday inspiration boards below to make your year-end celebration an explosion of style & color! FormDecor’s style and uniqueness can help you transform the….Read More
‘Tis the Season! This holiday season, whether your planning to be Naughty or Nice, Merry or Mod or anything in between, we have just what you’re looking for! Check out our holiday inspiration boards below to make your year-end celebration an explosion of style & color! FormDecor’s style and uniqueness can help you transform the ordinary into something extraordinary! What’s your style?!
NAUGHTY OR NICE in Black & Silver (above)
MERRY & MOD in Red & White
WHIMSICAL WONDERLAND in Blue, White & Silver
GRINCH GREEN in Green & Brown
Make your list and check it twice… the FormDecor Delivery Dudes are coming down a chimney near you. Don’t miss out!!Read Less
Join Fritz Williams, President of FormDecor, as he gives you an up close and personal tour of the FormDecor operation. With a broad range of Retro and Contempoary Modern designs, you’ll see lots of color, many styles and of course, the FormDecor team hard at work. Tap your fingers and toes to FormDecor’s “Crib” Video! Experience….Read More
Join Fritz Williams, President of FormDecor, as he gives you an up close and personal tour of the FormDecor operation. With a broad range of Retro and Contempoary Modern designs, you’ll see lots of color, many styles and of course, the FormDecor team hard at work. Tap your fingers and toes to FormDecor’s “Crib” Video!
Experience FormDecor’s unique and stylish rental furnishings from the comfort of your arm chair. No traffic to worry about! Stay as long as you’d like!
Want more…? Grab your popcorn and tune into the FormDecor YouTube Channel for a variety of FormDecor features!
Go retro, go stylish – GO MODERN!Read Less
By Jeff Sigler, VP of Sales Do you find yourself wondering why some businesses thrive and others flounder when the going gets tough? Are there things you can do to help you be more competitive? With a successful business built through the challenges of the past 12 years, FormDecor modern furniture rental has repeatedly proven….Read More
By Jeff Sigler, VP of Sales
Do you find yourself wondering why some businesses thrive and others flounder when the going gets tough? Are there things you can do to help you be more competitive?
With a successful business built through the challenges of the past 12 years, FormDecor modern furniture rental has repeatedly proven its strength and resilience both creatively and financially. Below are the 7 guiding principles that have seen us through:
1) Fiscal responsibility – Constantly evaluate your business for financial “leaks”. Do you have any unnecessary expenditures? Are employees being tasked efficiently? Do you have an emotional attachment to part of your business that is not performing well? Are administrative tasks standardized to ensure efficiency AND prevent costly errors? Answers to these questions may evolve over time depending on employee abilities and client demand. Be diligent and don’t be afraid to make changes that will keep you competitive.
2) Core competency – Determine what it is that you do well and focus your efforts AND your clients’ attention on that expertise. Be honest with yourself… there is something you know your business does as well or better than your competition. Are you promoting that clearly and concisely to your current and potential customers? Or are you confusing the matter by trying to be everything to everybody? FOCUS your business around your core competency and build a network of resources that can fulfill your clients’ other needs. Your customers will appreciate the insight and honesty while viewing you as a helpful resource that can connect them with a network of other services (like your ISES network!).
3) Market niche – What makes you different from all the other businesses in your industry? In a list of similar businesses, what would prompt someone to choose you? Differentiating your product/service from the competition is one way to develop a strong client following. Every business is unique simply because the people that staff that business are unique individuals. What is your distinctive business personality or your exclusive product feature? Are you promoting that?
4) Service – People want to do business with people that make their job easier or more pleasant. Try to view your product and service from the perspective of your customer. If you were your customer, what would impress you? (i.e. timeliness, friendliness, efficiency, helpfulness, follow-up, reliability, etc.) Most qualities that people attribute to good customer service don’t even cost you anything more to provide. Customer service is a mindset. Are you and your staff in the right mindset to provide top-notch service?
5) Stay current – Keep up on the trends in your industry. Face it, very little stays the same in any industry. You don’t want to be left behind! Keep abreast of technology, design trends, and service trends… and then take it one step further! Not only must you offer your clients what they need now, you should also be prepared to offer them something different, unique or better for the future. We live in a “been there/done that” culture – keeping it fresh and relevant is essential to long-term business success.
6) Upgrade – Whenever you have time and resources, don’t rest on your laurels, UPGRADE your product or service to be even more appealing to your customers! No business runs so perfectly that there’s no room for improvement. Look for those things that you could do better, and figure out a way to improve them. And make sure your customers know about your business enhancements. They will appreciate it even more if you make them look good to their clients.
7) “Cast your net wider” – Always continue to build your client base. Because there are so many factors affecting the success of any industry, there will always be flux in your active client list. To keep from getting caught short, a two-pronged approach to client development is ideal… (1) Ensure you keep in touch with existing customers and provide them with a good reason to return to you in the future, and (2) Constantly expose yourself to new prospective customers. Look outside the obvious pool of customers to cultivate new markets. NETWORK and listen to other people’s suggestions for new leads. As you develop networking relationships, your network will talk about your product to others, becoming a de facto extension of your sales force!
Whether you’re just starting your business or have been established for many years, the above 7 principles will help to keep you competitive. In a tough economy, you will greatly improve your chances of success by consistently fine-tuning your business to serve your customers better. It takes insight and effort, but there really is no alternative if you expect to compete. As some wise man once said, “You cannot sit on the road to success, for if you do, you will get run over!”Read Less
A Rental Affair on ExhibitorOnline.com, July 2012 Have you read the ExhibibtorOnline.com article on A Rental Affair by Kelli Billstein of Exhibitor? As a tradeshow supplier, FormDecor has been featured with a few furniture designs that are sure to make any booth stand out above the rest! See how the article transforms your tradeshow appearance….Read More
Have you read the ExhibibtorOnline.com article on A Rental Affair by Kelli Billstein of Exhibitor? As a tradeshow supplier, FormDecor has been featured with a few furniture designs that are sure to make any booth stand out above the rest!
See how the article transforms your tradeshow appearance with furniture!
Though he was born in Los Angeles, Isamu Noguchi had the rare benefit of living and traveling all around the world, experience which undoubtedly influenced how he matured as an artist, designer and landscape architect. Drawing on his childhood experiences living in India, Paris and Japan, as well as studies in England and China, Noguchi….Read More
Though he was born in Los Angeles, Isamu Noguchi had the rare benefit of living and traveling all around the world, experience which undoubtedly influenced how he matured as an artist, designer and landscape architect. Drawing on his childhood experiences living in India, Paris and Japan, as well as studies in England and China, Noguchi developed a unique and innovative style, incorporating both rural craft traditions and technological design elements.
Noguchi’s constant investigation into the nature and use of form and space yielded a number of groundbreaking public art and urban planning designs. Since he had been trained as a cabinetmaker in Japan, it was only natural that Noguchi would eventually turn his creative attention to designing furniture. Designing for Knoll and Herman Miller in the 1940’s, he developed a reputation for unique, organic-shaped furnishings that echoed the biomorphic elements of his sculpture work. The very popular Noguchi Coffee Table, designed for Herman Miller in 1945, is a result of this phase of Noguchi’s dynamic career, and it is an excellent example of organic and technological influences on his style.
Fortunately for his admirers, the Isamu Noguchi Garden Museum was established in the 1980’s in Long Island City, NY, to permanently display a variety of this prolific artist’s work.
FormDecor’s special selection of authentic Noguchi furniture is available to rent HERE.Read Less
FormDecor got together with Senior Designer for MTV, Ed Coco for a one-on-one Featured Professionals interview. Well known for his creative special event planning skills, Ed Coco has also been involved with theatre design for major Broadway shows as a scenic designer. As a well-rounded individual in the special events industry, he continues to push….Read More
FormDecor got together with Senior Designer for MTV, Ed Coco for a one-on-one Featured Professionals interview. Well known for his creative special event planning skills, Ed Coco has also been involved with theatre design for major Broadway shows as a scenic designer. As a well-rounded individual in the special events industry, he continues to push the envelope when designing and planning events. But we don’t want to give it all away in the introduction! FormDecor invites you to get to know Ed Coco!
FormDecor: Were you always creative as a child? What was the first creative project you did?
Ed Coco: You know, I really don’t think that I was any kind of “exceptionally creative” child. I just had a really normal, fun childhood and I was very fortunate to have an incredibly supportive family. I would say that I was always VERY curious. I would take things apart and put them back together (or sometimes not). When something became of interest to me, I would find out as much as I could about that thing.
As a child, I started playing the piano when my brothers were taking lessons and ended up teaching myself, and I would show their teacher when she came over for their lessons. Eventually I took over those lessons, and I think I was like that with a lot of things as a child. Once something caught my attention, I became absorbed in understanding that thing.
FD: Your biography on www.ecocodesign.com says that you were the Associate Scenic Designer for the Broadway productions of Spring Awakening and Green Day’s American Idiot. That sounds like an amazing opportunity! What was your experience like in the theatrical industry?
EC: I love being involved in theatre! I have a Masters Degree in theatrical design and I continue to teach in the graduate programs at NYU and Rutgers University. It has taught me so much, and still continues to teach me things today. I’ve been fortunate to take part in eight Broadway shows and they were all brand new experiences.
Most of my professional theatre experience has been through my long association with Scenic Designer Christine Jones. Christine has always told me that it’s important to always have at least one project that you’re doing “for your soul”. Theatre is what I do for my soul!
FD: You are well known for your party planning skills for television channels such as Comedy Central, MTV, MTV2, Nickelodeon, VH1, Spike and many others. Are there particular steps you take from concept to actualization? What is your favorite part of the process and why?
EC: I think what keeps me in this business is that I’ve been able to throw the recipe book away. I approach every project very differently, and I have the luxury of getting to work on a myriad of vastly different projects… So it always feels fresh and new. Sometimes I get the opportunity to get really detailed on a design in isolation where I can create a wonderfully intricate 3D model and research materials and technology before revealing anything. Other times, I’m creating things very quickly on the fly, and I’m calling a scene shop to collaborate with the actualization as ideas come into my head. I love every part of the process no matter what kind of process I end up having to utilize. Sure, things drive me crazy at times, but when I walk into the office every morning, I think about how lucky I am to be doing this for a living.
FD: At what point in your career did you realize you wanted to plan special events? How did you start?
EC: Well, honestly, I came into the events world at a bit of a late age. I was purely designing for theatre and broadcast when another designer brought me on to help with some large events for McDonalds. I was blown away at the opportunity to apply my skills to this brand new world.
Designer Evan Alexander brought me into MTV Networks. Like me, he was from a very hardcore theatre education and had discovered the opportunities in events. I think the appeal for many of us was the chance to show our skills to so many people. The theatre world can be a little insular, and there aren’t as many opportunities. The field of Special Events has grown to involve so much these days; from parties and concerts to sponsor activations and integrated marketing events. It’s exciting to think about all of the things in which I can participate.
FD: Out of the many special events you have planned for MTV, which one is the most memorable for you? Do you have photos to share?
EC: I don’t know that I’d say that any one in particular is the MOST memorable. I have so many great memories from so many events. That’s one of the benefits of working in a Special Events department, with so many fantastic co-workers and friends. But the post party for the Comedy Central Roast of David Hasselhoff is a great example. It was really a wonderful collaboration between the events area, the production area, and the design area of our department.
We were at Sony Studios and turned the lawn outside of the cafeteria into a giant beach/boardwalk/lounge. It was all on such a grand scale, from the 30 or so giant palm trees to the full scale lifeguard station that served as the DJ Booth. It was great to see the studio employees pass by during our load-in and look impressed. They’re a tough crowd to impress! But what made it memorable for me was the collaboration across the board, from our internal staff to the producers and clients at Comedy Central.
Careful and non-intrusive sponsor integrations, unique food and drink offerings, fun activations, and clever technical enhancements all came together with the design elements that I’d help create. When you have a lot of amazing people working together and hitting their stride at the same time, it’s pretty cool! Those are the productions that I remember the most.
FD: When you take on a new event planning project, where do you draw your inspiration from?
EC: I suppose my theatrical training has taught me to try and look for clues from the source. In theatre that can mean the Director, the performers, and the script.
In the events world it can mean properly listening to and asking questions of your clients, producers, and collaborators. Don’t get me wrong, sometimes I like to try and design something “cool” that comes purely from what I’m interested in at a particular time, but for the most part I look for the little inspirations that are hidden in what people are saying about the project. Whether they know it or not, they’re leaving those clues behind to be found. They can be mentioning a cool club they’ve been to, a movie they’ve seen recently, or an artist that they admire. The key is to try and listen, and not jump in too quickly or jump to conclusion. Otherwise you’re designing just for yourself and trying to talk someone into something they really don’t want. There is a delicate balance between getting input and guiding a client. But as a designer you just know when you’ve hit the points correctly. Things just start to fit and come together.
FD: What has been one of the most challenging events you’ve worked on since being in the industry? Please share with us how you overcame those challenges. Do you have photos to share?
EC: Well there are certainly various levels of “challenges” in this business. I feel like my biggest challenges come from dealing with producers, clients, and sponsors because they can be hard to read and interpret at times. With any project you, really have to determine what you’re trying to do and what you’re trying to serve before you can succeed. And there often isn’t an easy answer to that; especially when you have to please various parties who you can start off with completely different ideas about an event.
One example is our MTV Upfront event. It’s a business meeting, a product reveal, a sales event, and a PR opportunity all in one. Oh, and there are at least two musical performances thrown in and it’s usually being taped in the same manner as an on-air production. The final twist is that at the end of the program it has to turn into a party for two thousand people. You have outside sponsors, corporate executives, and internal producers to please. And they aren’t even your clients; that’s the Press Department and Integrated Marketing area. So you walk the line between creating a design that has a lot of built-in flexibility.
For two years, I designed sets that could be lifted into the air to reveal the party that was hidden in the backstage area. I was particularly happy with the 2011 Upfront where we created an intimate thrust stage in New York’s Hammerstein Ballroom. I think the set served all of its purposes equally well; which at one time seemed impossible. But, again, you overcome those obstacles with close collaboration between various areas. And having an internal events department here at MTV allows all of the elements to really stay in touch.
FD: What “words of wisdom” do you have to share with young professionals entering the events industry in this day and age?
EC: I’m probably biased since I work at two major universities, but if it’s possible I would really encourage young professionals to make sure they’ve had a good education. It’s really invaluable. I won’t pretend to know what programs and schools are best suited for this field (that’s a very personal choice and match), but I feel like too often we’re an industry that’s very in-bred.
People get a job working on an event when they’re young and they eventually stick around and move up the ladder by being available. They know how to get a specific type of job done well through repetition, but not because they’re creating something new and challenging. I think that’s what often leads to the “cookie-cutter” type events that happen so frequently and sometimes give “special events” a bad reputation. I know great designers with degrees in Art, Philosophy, and Theatre (I have an undergrad in English Literature, for heaven’s sake). And I know wonderful Event Producers who have degrees in things like Psychology and Media Studies. The point is that they went to school, learned “how to learn”, and then applied their skills to our field. Plus, college is just fun! It’s one of those few times in your life when you can just apply yourself to random new things without having a lot of worries and obligations. It’s important to go through that experience.
FD: If you had the chance to design any event in the world, what would it be? What is significant about that event that makes it your dream?
EC: I think what I would do is assemble all of my favorite collaborators from every area and create a charitable event from scratch. Look at some of the stuff that Joe Lewis from the Joe Lewis Company is doing with charitable events and self-initiated projects; it’s really amazing to be able to use your professional skills to give back something.
When you get to a certain point in your career, you stop worrying about the “next great project”; you just have a sense that if you stay true to your calling the next great project will be right around the corner. What you instead try to do, is create the opportunity to share that project with those that make it worthwhile. Through our pro-social initiatives at MTV Networks, I’ve been lucky to work with some great charitable organizations such as VH1’s Save the Music Foundation, Lifebeat, and Comedy Central’s Night of Too Many Stars, a benefit for Autism Education. Those are the events that I really love to design, and the people with whom I like to collaborate.
FD: If you could choose one design of FormDecor’s for your home or office, what would it be? Why does that one design stand out among the rest for you?
EC: I’d have to pick the Mies Van der Rohe Barcelona furniture. I’m an old school fan of Bauhaus style, and I think that line of furniture is beautiful. There’s such amazing complexity in a design that at first appears so simple and clean. One of the things that constantly amazes’ me is how easily it can blend with a multitude of other design styles. It’s so versatile. Not to mention comfortable. At a big party, they are always the first chairs to be claimed.
Now if you mean “what DESIGN created with FormDecor’s line of furniture” I would have to say that I’d just want John Calkins of John Calkins & Co. to come and design my office with anything from your inventory that he wanted. I’m always stunned at how good he makes everything look. I’d ask him to make my office look like one of his Comedy Central Roast designs. They always feel like places where you’d just love to hang out with your friends.
FD: What haven’t you checked off your bucket list?
EC: You know, I don’t have much of a bucket list. I would love to travel Europe extensively; meaning without any obligation whatsoever. I find that when I travel I’m often locking myself into schedules like I do at work. It would be fantastic to just travel, experience and discover as things happen. I think everything on my bucket list would have to do with traveling. I’m still so curious about so many places and things. Also, my parents are retired and they’ve been traveling a lot. It makes me jealous to hear about all of the places they go.