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The New Look

The New Look

AFTER THE OPULENT '80s and the taut, tailored '90s, event design has a new look. Three top event designers point to a warm, rich look that keys on a sense of the familiar.

According to New York-based Antony Todd, “There is a call to soften the strong, minimal look of the late '90s. It's a bit more eclectic again. Color has never been out, but people might be ready for a bit more flamboyance. There's a little more fun and humor; it's not so uptight.”

Todd's tabletops feature “handmade, beautiful objects — handblown glass and hand-beaten silver — that we resource from Europe.” He combines the objects with floral arrangements “in their natural state. I like one type of flower all grouped together, falling in one direction. The look is not overly tailored. The style should be fresh, eclectic — not overly worked.”

Bryan Rafanelli, head of Boston-based Rafanelli Events, sees an urge to celebrate combined with a yearning for the security of home. “People want a sense of the familiar in their events,” he says. But “parties are alive and well, thank God.”

He favors glow over glitter. “Gone are the gold charger with the gold plate and the gold-rimmed glass,” he says. In their place, “we like to mix woods and woven material with glass to create a nice look: a square mahogany charger with a rattan plate topped with a colored glass plate.”

For linens, Rafanelli likes the homey yet rich look of patchwork and embroidery. “It's a home-grown feeling, but cool and chic,” he says. He even adds stitching to the edges of invitations. “It takes lots of labor and time, but what you see makes it very special. It's not embossed and gilded.”

Matthew David Hopkins of New York-based Matthew David Events thinks that the appeal of the familiar is an important counterbalance to the ongoing pull of innovation. “Think of your favorite chair and how the fabric on it looks and feels,” he says. “Now change the shape, and the familiar feel of the textile is still there.”

He adds, “The design climate right now is one that leans to the softer side in general. We look for new ways to use blush tones in simple ways. Curvilinear lines, soft, moving light, and textures that are rich without being too bold will all set the tone for more understated elegant events. Look for the mood of many events to be warm and embracing.”

RESOURCES: Antony Todd, 212/367-7363; Matthew David Events, 212/627-2086; Rafanelli Events, 617/357-1818

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