Monday, June 28, 2010

Allison's Beautiful Birthday Bash

While I cannot disclose what birthday was celebrated at this elegant soiree (I was told that if the "number" got out, heads would roll!), I can tell you what a special, intimate evening this was for Allison, a former mother-of-the-bride (we did daughter Ashley's wedding in July 2008), and 25 of her closest friends. The private room at Del Posto was just the right setting for this multi-course meal with wine pairings as it was secluded from the bustling main dining room, but still thrived on the energy of this Mario Batali/Lydia Bastianich hotspot.

I remembered that when we designed her daughter's wedding years ago, Allison said her favorite flower was sweet pea, so it was a no-brainer to include it in the centerpieces. Completing the lovely spring mix was yellow freesia, ivory garden roses and white ranunculus.

This menu folder, along with all of the other stationery pieces, was created by Bella Figura.

At each guest's place, miniature cakes by Chocolate Blossom Cakes served as both the place card and the favor. They alternated between yellow and green with the guest's initial in the opposite color on the top of each cake.

It wouldn't be a birthday party without a cake, and there is no cake like a Sylvia Weinstock cake!

All photos by Sofia Negron

Hope you enjoy!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Josh's Vintage Baseball Bar Mitzvah: Part Two

Tappan Hill in Tarrytown, New York was the site of this beautiful celebration. The venue is the most perfect example of the value of my Design Consulting services (if I may say so!) for two reasons: First and foremost, Tappan Hill has an exclusive list of florists with whom their clients must work. This is somewhat common with venues that do high volume or that have historic status as they tend to be more protective of their environment and want to reduce the risk of having different florists coming in every day who may not be respectful of their house rules and limitations. Therefore, I am not permitted to produce my designs in this space. I can design parties (brainpower), but I can't produce them (manpower). [For more info on the difference, click here].

Second: Tappan Hill, an Abigail Kirsch property, has amongst the most stellar event managers in the business. I have worked primarily with Kathy Policastro over the years and she manages the intricate details of every event with unparalleled precision. It is a most unusual situation in which the venue contact is as good as a great event planner, but Kathy is that good, so I feel 100% confident that the event will be as fabulous as the decor I designed and I can rest easy even if my planning team is not on-site. It may surprise you that someone who has a company which plans events would highlight an instance in which our services are not required, but, as always, I call it like I see it, and there are a few locations lurking out there at which, when there is a client who is doing a very straightforward or repeat event (second Bar Mitzvah, for example), our planning services are not required. Gasp!

So, in short, it was my job to come up with all of the creative ideas for this event and then to put them in a format that I could hand over to another florist to bring to life. That format is what I call the Style File. The Style File has every detail that is required (down to the inch) to produce the design including the floor plan, materials, flowers, art and lighting. It is my goal to make the Style File so comprehensive and specific that truly any professional can produce every part of the design just as I would if I were the producer on the job. This particular event was relatively close to home for me, so I knew the vendors and could come to the venue to oversee the production, but, the Style File is strong enough that a bride planning a destination wedding or a client based thousands of miles away could take this "book" to their local producers and make a design just as fabulous come to life!

The previous post detailed a few of the thematic elements of this party, but I also wanted to share with you the elegant, beautiful dinner tables and lounge environment we designed for Josh and his guests. Because this party was for equal parts children and adults, one of our goals was to create an environment that was equally appropriate for both. Thus, with my intention to leave the theme-y elements to the bar, the escort table and the sign-in area, I used the color, conceptual and textural elements to convey the Vintage Baseball feel.

One of the many documents from the Style File that I gave to the required production team was this illustration of my complete vision for the tablescape.

Dark wooden farm tables, walnut chairs and amber tinted glasses from Classic Party Rentals were a perfect fit for this event style. Chargers from Party Rental, Ltd. and runners from my personal collection finished off the tabletop. My flower and candle designs were produced with precision by House of Flowers, one of Tappan Hill's required vendors, and those killer wooden table numbers, like the escort cards, were designed and produced by ModernPress.

For the kids' area, I added club-style lounge pieces from Designer8 (part of Classic Party Rentals), and those cutey red ottomans are from the perennial favorite, Target. The distressed baseball lamps? eBay, of course! Oh, internet, how I love thee...

Photos by Gustavo Campos

My mission to abolish all glittered foam core from every Bar/Bat Mitzvah in America continues on... one party at a time. If you looked at these photos and thought to yourself, "this doesn't look like a Bar Mitzvah," well, then, my work here is done.

As always, I welcome your thoughts, feedback and questions, so bring it on!

Happy summer!

Monday, June 7, 2010

Josh's Vintage Baseball Bar Mitzvah: Part One

I had such a great time working on this amazing Design Consulting project. I had produced a Bar Mitzvah for this family's older son three years ago so I was already familiar with their aesthetic and the more sophisticated vibe they like, so when Josh's mom said he liked baseball, but didn't want to go "over the top," I knew just where I wanted to go with the design.

I started the Style Story by offering two different theme choices: Vintage Baseball and Pinstripe Prep. The family flipped for the Vintage Baseball concept because it encompassed all of the key baseball elements that Josh loves but without being too overt with the theme. I wanted to style the party with color and texture rather than images as is most common with Bar/Bat Mitzvah decor so I picked tones that had an antique feel and materials with a rustic finish.

I'll start with the most thematic elements. My client had a great monogram from their save the date card that they gave to me to work with. The first thing was taking the monogram and finding the "kid friendly" manifestation of it so we could print it on favors and the like. My idea was putting the monogram as the insignia on a distressed baseball cap. So, my talented illustrator Heather came up with just the right hand-drawn image.

Next, my plan for keeping the party thematic, but not too "in your face" was to theme the escort card table, the bar and the sign-in area so that we could just make the dinner tables beautiful and elegant without too much theme-y stuff. First up was finding just the right vintage baseball imagery to use as a jumping off point for these areas. One of my great design assistants, Amanda, found a photo of an old-fashioned baseball scoreboard and immediately all of the pieces of the puzzle fell into place in my head. The icing on the cake was my discovery of brilliant stationery designer Carolina Della Valle of ModernPress's collection of wood escort cards, menus and table numbers.

This is the image that originated the idea, followed by my translation.

And.... the real thing.

For the sign-in area, I couldn't stop thinking about the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown. It took me a while to put all of the elements in place, but once I found these Hall of Fame World Series plaques at a good price online, my vision finally worked itself out. The production team was not too happy about the wood paneling, but it had to be done! Guests signed the copper plaque featuring the Bar Mitvah boy, giving him a keepsake he'll actually want to keep.

The bar came together when I saw an image of a baseball dugout in which the batting helmets were stored in wooden cubbies while the players were in the field. I became obsessed with this image for some strange reason and couldn't sleep until I figured out what to do with it. Building this cubbie contraption onsite was no party, but the end result was exactly how I imagined it.

All event photos by Gustavo Campos

These thematic elements set the tone for the party without hitting guests over the head with BASEBALL!!! and JOSH!!! AHHH!!! Stay tuned for more images from this amazing celebration and see how the dining environment turned out.