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Strong Past, Solid Future

To see a bright future, one must have a clear vision of the past. To ensure that 600 top donors of Northwestern University could see the benefit of their continued financial support, Chicago-based G/M! Productions crea-ted a fund-raising event that reflected the university's past triumphs and future aspirations. Held inside the school's 50,000-square-foot Campus Fitness Center, the event that kicked off a campaign to raise $1 billion meshed history with new vision, incorporating both classic and futuristic decor elements.

Working with Ronsley, a Chicago-based decor company, and Frost Lighting of Chicago, G/M! Productions created two distinct event areas for a cocktail reception and formal dinner. The focal point of the cocktail area was a bar set under a 65-foot portico, which combined classic columns and traditional table swagging (representing history) and a free-form, post-modern white canopy accented with white, trumpet-like sculptures (representing new vision).

This blending of past with future also was interpreted through the design of several banquet tables set up along the room's perimeter. Each table represented one of the school's academic disciplines and featured a portico roof held up by one classic column and one post-modern one. Gobos of the university's logo were projected onto the floors and walls, which were washed in hot studio colors.

After cocktails, a scrim was lifted, revealing the dinner area. Dining tables were dressed traditionally in white satin linens and silver chiavari chairs. Lush, low centerpieces-Casablanca lilies clustered in simple silver bowls-were placed on round mirrors and surrounded by silver table lamps. Each centerpiece was pin-spotted, which added a glowing effect to the tabletops. Diaphanous, trumpet-shaped fabric columns were lighted from within in shades of magenta and blue, adding a futuristic feel.

And, lest guests forget whom they ultimately were supporting, Northwestern students, including former Miss America and Northwestern senior Kate Shindle, put on a custom-scripted show. -S.C.

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