Special Events

Internationally Speaking: Event Design in the Digital Age

Technology takes decor anywhere, anytime WITH THE PROGRESS in technology and the growth in our industry of dreams, finding the balance between reality, virtual reality and everything else must be our ultimate goal - and achieving it must be the ultimate high.

What is so amazing: The client plans to have an event, we talk it, dream it and set up a sample in our Johannesburg, South Africa, showroom. We then photograph it digitally, e-mail it, and - within seconds, anywhere in the world - the client has a glorious, full-color image of what this very special event will look like.

I love the fact that every event exposes new folks to just what a difference decor makes to the occasion. So often we'll have clients who say they don't want chair covers or special napkin details. And yet when they come into the showroom to see the setup, or when we send them the images, they say, "Yes, we have to have it."

The balance between technology and the human factor is what it's all about. The pressure to deliver is immense, and final delivery is all about people.

In our Johannesburg operation we have a team of 150. It's a real hands-on operation, from molding latex mermaids and fish for an underwater theme to styling an exotic Rio centerpiece. The scope is phenomenal.

HAVE IMAGE, WILL TRAVEL Digital imaging has been great for us because we can instantly capture the look and share with our branches in Cape Town, Port Elizabeth and Durban, South Africa, and London. It is absolutely fantastic for our associate company in San Diego, Dream World Events. We do unbelievably beautiful hand-painted backdrops, and within hours of receiving an inquiry in the United States, we are able to send images for the client. We run a night shift not only to cope with the global time zones, but also because we are the traditional "elves and fairies" who clear the venue in the middle of the night - and no one even knows we were there!

Another great advance has been using this instant information for design. Our creative team in Johannesburg works on hundreds of events. So, for example, our London office can send images of a venue, and we are able to send a custom design to London for presentation.

It's also fantastic to get feedback from previous functions, so we photograph all the events and are able to use this archive for future sales. We have literally hundreds of themes that can be customized.

Another wonderful "toy" is our wide-bed digital inkjet printer. We might be working on a theme - say, an Irish pub - and in less than an hour we are able to produce the lighted sign "Murphy's Irish Pub and Grill" or whatever other personalized touch we want to add. The result is just so professional.

NO BOUNDARIES I love that there are no boundaries. Recently while we were in Prague, Czech Republic, doing a cocktail function, we received confirmation from a fellow ISES member, Leslee Bell from Decor & More in Toronto, to do an event for a Canadian company in Portugal.

Our Johannesburg office was able to set up the look of two different themes for 400 guests per night. We e-mailed these to Toronto and our London office, and before you could say "That's amazing," we had a team from London, Johannesburg and Germany in Portugal setting up the events. And even before the Johannesburg team was home, I had received digital images of both nights and details of the client's delight! Now, that's really amazing!

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