When I think back to my own wedding (October 2001), one of the things I regret the most about my design is the lack of depth. Once I selected my color palette, I became so inextricably tied to it that I was unable to consider the broader spectrum of design elements that would have enhanced the basic palette. Now, hundreds of weddings and design projects later, one of the things I am most proud of is the development of my understanding of and inclination to bring together unexpected elements, colors and textures that broaden the horizons of my designs.
I see, again and again, my clients looking for ways for everything to "match" and I feel their frustration when exact colors aren't available across varied media (blush flower to blush ink to blush fabric). I believe that it is a product of experience to find the line between what I call "matchy-matchy" and "cohesive" and sometimes it takes a lot of guts to step away from the ease and simplicity of just matching to the bold complexity of coordinating.
What I describe as "mixed media" is one of the more evolved design decisions within the context of events: putting together materials and textures that may not ordinarily or organically be found together. For example, a black laquer vase on an unfinished wood table or a candleholder with antique finish on a graphic patterned table runner. These choices are definitely out of the box, but when done well, are so sophisticated that they elevate your decor out of the realm of Brides Magazine and into the pages of Architectural Digest. Oooh... it gives me chills!
What embracing this concept does is let you feel free from the age old party-planning concern... do I have to match the existing decor in the room? No, no and no! Imagine the excitement of approaching a home in the country with a rustic exterior and then walking in to find an amazing modern kitchen with stainless appliances and polished concrete counters. Or, think of the woman on the street who makes you look twice because she is wearing a classic black suit and killer lime green, croc print stilettos. What better place for an element of pleasant surprise than a party?
Let your classic, ornate ballroom disappear behind your bold, vibrant color palette or mirrored plexiglass tabletops. Not being tied to one matchy-matchy "theme" (oooh, do I h*te that word!) gives you the flexibility to let your personality shine through your decor. What person, after all, has such limited dimension?
Now, I don't necessarily suggest you brave this alone unless you have a pretty good eye because the line between a hot look and a hot mess is paper thin, but the reward that comes with a little bit of risk is far greater than that of the simple satisfaction of playing it safe. Good luck!
James Burrows' Bel-Air home mixed contemporary art (stack on left wall) with English furnishings and soft lines (as in window arch).
Interior designer Craig Wright made a bold statement with a polished coal coffee table in this traditional study.
Photos courtesy of Architectural Digest
Fellow event designer David Beahm styled this amazing event at the Angel Orensanz Foundation using not only contrasting textures, but also colors, which gives the event life separate from the space which houses it.
Photo by Fred Marcus