Sunday, March 20, 2011

"Dinner by Design" Signature Tabletop

Over the course of the past few years, it has been so much fun to bring a little taste of what I do in New York and around the globe back to my small Pennsylvania hometown. I have been able to design some truly spectacular weddings in and around the Scranton area and work for and with people I have known my entire life, but in a very different context. So, it was truly an honor when I was asked to create a design to display at the Lackawanna Historical Society's inaugural "Dinner by Design" event at the beautiful Scranton Cultural Center. Twenty event industry pros created tabletops to feast and fete and I was truly blown away by my fellow exhibitors' creativity and ingenuity.

As you know, I just adore black, so naturally I used it as the basis for my tabletop. I chose yellow as my accent color because the event organizers had asked me to talk about my design inspiration, and something in my mind brought me back to one of the first events I ever created... it was an art opening for a young experiential artist who created a sculpture out of opaque yellow acrylic and displayed it in front of the Flatiron Building. The piece required you to stand inside of it and allow the sculpture to transform the way in which you view the world (specifically the intersection of 23rd Street and Broadway/Fifth Avenue) from within it. The interactive nature of it speaks so profoundly to the interactive nature of event design as it is not beauty that you look at, but that you interact with as you eat, drink, dance and celebrate.

To me, this is the keystone principle of event design and what makes it a unique art form - we create beautiful environments for living, but unlike interior design where the goal is to provide an environment that can be enjoyed over an extended period of time, event environments must be experienced in their entirety within a matter of hours, but leave you with a feeling that will resonate for a lifetime. Many years after that art exhibit closed, I remember the feeling of standing inside that yellow acrylic box and marveling at how the cuts and angles made it look like the Flatiron Building disappeared and like 5th Avenue and Broadway went on forever.

Are you sorry you asked about the yellow? Oh, wait, you didn't ask. :-)

Anyway... some fun details: I wanted to create a branded table setting without ordering custom china, so I used a vinyl transfer with the flower from my logo to accent the salad plates. Since I am totally hot for the vinyl transfers and couldn't stop myself, I also used the vinyl on shiny black bellini chairs from Taylor Creative to create "placecards" for some of my imaginary dinner guests (do you think that Demi, Ashton, Brad and Angie would actually have dinner together?? Probably not.). Instead of a runner to add color to the black cloth, I designed a tablecloth with inverse pleats and then carried the yellow fabric through on the napkins and accent pillows. Finally, I created intimacy around the table with a custom built glossy black frame and netted curtain panels - since the color scheme and design components are graphic and bold, a softer environment around the table made it a bit more inviting.

Many thanks to Julie Jordan for many of these photos and to Party Rental, Ltd. for the china, glassware and silverware.


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