The value of professional event design

Throughout our lives, design considerations can be found all around us. An inert object such as your morning coffee mug has been designed to achieve maximum ‘tipping’ comfort, heat retention and “lip appeal.” Similarly, the system or process at a blood donor clinic is “designed” for the donor’s comfort, safety and overall traffic flow of people.
The value of professional event design
Design in each application seeks to create a viable solution to the stated objective. Design, as applied to live events, seeks to blend guest and supplier needs while at the same time serving the client’s objective in the event space provided.

Special events have been integral to our society for thousands of years because humans have a continuing need to come together. In the most recent 30 years, a shift in the way we celebrate has influenced the design approach in all aspects of human gatherings. The industry of live events is continually changing to accommodate emerging technologies and changes in the way each new generation chooses to meet.

Integrates resources

Design innovation abounds in trade shows, corporate meetings, festivals and live events. In response to today’s celebration styles, a well-applied event design will integrate a sophisticated spectrum of industry resources, innovation and originality.

The explosion of products and services can be mind-boggling for the novice or non-visual planner. It is the process of design wherein these various elements are assembled into a cohesive solution. In bringing the numerous and seemingly disparate parts of an event together, a professional designer can help establish budget allocations between the must-have elements and the nice-to-have items identified within the overall event vision. The knowledge of excellent industry sources as well as resource alternatives are at the top of the professional event designer’s service list.

No matter the purpose of the event, all event designers have a common objective motivating their event design options. Every event solution seeks to achieve a sense of safety, comfort and emotional engagement on behalf of the participants. More than ever clients want to purchase an event experience that is intelligent and speaks effectively about their brand or product. Event buyers want that “feel good” appeal to permeate their event in the professional delivery of their brand-face amongst the face-to-face attendees.

Improving the ROI

Today’s event buyer is an educated and astute client often seeking assurance on the subject of ROI. These factors make a strong case for engaging a professional event design firm when establishing your event vision. In all cases, the event designer will orchestrate the various event elements into one harmonious experience of lighting, sound, and taste extravaganza!

An event engineer is well equipped to co-ordinate the creative team that will be responsible for delivery of the event. Since each and every element has its own design considerations, there may be more than one design-head on the show floor. When integrating multiple disciplines, strong communications are critical to an integrated event design. All members of the team need to be well informed of the full event scope in order to understand the inherent hierarchy specific to the event.

An ideal way to facilitate design integration among the disciplines is to conduct a meeting at the location of the live event. Pre-production meetings and site visits conducted with open dialogue and creative “imagineering” result in a well-informed creative team that is on the same page for the same event. The event team also gets to brainstorm in the space where the event will be held. This is opportune to identifying any complexity or variation that may impact on the design and delivery of each element.

Collaboration is key

The wise planner will ensure all team members have a complete event syllabus clearly identifying the lead designer responsible for the final delivery of the vision that has been sold. There is every need to manage and blend all aspects of the event design. For example, the lighting designer will have a vision that needs to blend with the decor design of the space. Amber lighting focused on a purple and turquoise fabric circus canopy just does not work. It is a simple matter that yellow-coloured light on purple fabric turns the purple cloth into an unattractive brown hue!

The floral designer can choose from exotic selections never before available for the cut-flower buyer. They too bring a specialized scope of knowledge to the event design bucket. Professional floral designers know they cannot mix daffodils with other flowers due to the ethylene gases. They also know that fragrant flowers wreak havoc with the sense of taste and smell when used in an event space.

Design is implemented with purpose. For example, overall design of the tablescape is not exclusive to the centerpiece. The cover or place-setting offers a design consideration in selection of china, glassware and flatware. Blend these items with the variations in linens, table shapes and candle options and design becomes instrumental in the final dining table assembly.

Sensory experience

For each attendee, their five human senses respond to event stimulation in exactly the same ways as done for millennia. It is the ways in which these human senses are stimulated that has changed so dramatically in these last three decades.

Whether bringing a product to market or introducing a new medicine to doctors, the breadth of this industry has spawned many jobs and innovative services. New products are introduced at auto shows, boat shows, home living shows, fashion shows… the list is long. Every individual in today’s society is zero degrees from a special event such as a wedding or birthday celebration offering income opportunity for local musicians, artists and serving professionals.

Design considerations permeate all aspects of a professional event. The lighting design assures no one is blinded by poorly placed lights. The floral design may be of a large scale but will ensure guests can still see each other across the table. The ceiling design will be engineered to reflect safe rigging as well as clear site lines for any planned audio-visuals. The entertainment programming is designed to not only entertain, but to inform the overall flow of the event.

The marketplace offers so much diversity in products and styles for special events. No doubt the scope of options may be overwhelming to some. No matter the financial parameters available, event design is perpetually seeking the balance between reality and the fixed elements such as the budget, physical space, logistics and the expectations of the buyer.

The success of a special event is not by accident. A strong event design providing a deliverable solution in response to the client’s objective equals a successful event outcome.

About the author:

Penni Holdham, C.S.E.P., graduated from O.C.A. in 1979 and found her calling in the world of special event design. Leading her company, The Display Connection Inc., her design acumen has engineered a myriad of uniquely creative events that have garnered both local and international recognition. Whether designing a fireworks show over Niagara Falls or producing a full-blown competition rodeo for 4,500 guests at an island site, her attention to the detail adds value to her great event designs. She is a hands-on designer engaged in all aspects of prop construction, floral design, and full-room installation, ensuring her event vision comes to life with integrity and panache. Numerous clients celebrate her creativity, enthusiastically returning for original event designs that work. Some clients include McDonald's of Canada, Microsoft, Bayer, Sun Life Financial, and more. Penni is one of Toronto's finest event designers, serving business and corporate clients.

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