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Bindi Babies

CHANT "OM" OR sing "Happy Birthday"? Guests at this event, a birthday party for the child of a celebrity pop star, no doubt did a little of both. Designed by Matthew David Hopkins, owner of New York-based Matthew David Flowers, the event transformed the interior of an apartment overlooking Central Park West into a tiny Taj Mahal.

To create a tented look, Hopkins draped tension poles with bolts of candy pink, tangerine orange and saffron yellow fabric, as well as with authentic Indian saris. Tapestries and jewel-toned velvet created a collage of color on the floor, which was scattered with Indian throw pillows for guest seating. Photo blowups of Hindu god Ganesh (the elephant) decorated the walls. The likeness of Ganesh also was featured on the birthday cake.

"It was very important to the client that the party be designed for children," Hopkins says. "Accommodating adults was secondary." To that end, a low table with pillow seating was created for the children's dining and the space was left open, which meant no tables and chairs. Guests sat on floor pillows or on an existing banquette that was covered in pink fabric.

Beads were strung at each entranceway. "The kids loved playing with those," Hopkins says. Marigold and carnation leis were placed at the children's table as party favors, as were bindis (dots worn on the forehead), Indian bangle bracelets and Indian candies.

To create authentic floral pieces, Hopkins researched Indian culture and found photographs of women carrying harvest baskets on their heads. He incorporated this look into the buffet pieces, which featured carnations, roses, proteas, fruits, banana leaves and baskets. Potted banana trees, ripe with both fruits and flowers, added to the decor. "In India, banana blossoms are used only for the most auspicious occasions," Hopkins says.

Om, shanti and "Happy Birthday" to that!

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