You can't miss an Ed Libby piece. The owner of New York-based Ed Libby & Co. specializes in giant floral, more art than centerpiece. His work is so popular, he has to employ 41 full time employees; his events span the United States, Europe, the Middle East, Asia and the Caribbean; and celebrities such as musician Diddy and supermodel Naomi Campbell call on him to produce their personal birthday parties. He's equally in demand with brides. As he says, “What the mind can imagine, Ed Libby can create.” Here, he explains how he does it.
SPECIAL EVENTS MAGAZINE: How did you get into the event business?
ED LIBBY: As a college art student, I got a part-time job at the local flower shop. Before long, I was freelancing with top designers in New York and was hired to work on the most prestigious party of the year — the Tiffany & Co. store opening. I started Ed Libby & Co. shortly after that event. I began my business at 18 doing events from a work space in my home. As more guests enjoyed my unique creations, [my popularity] spread through the suburban area of New York where I grew up. The next natural step was to the venues of New York. I was quickly labeled a novelty act but have spent the last 23 years proving that this was not an overnight sensation, and if it was, this has been the longest night of my life!
SPECIAL EVENTS: Describe a decor piece you created that stands out in your mind.
LIBBY: For a rock-and-roll legend, we created 4-foot-tall spherical sculptures composed of an exotic mix of fresh oranges, orange roses and green viburnum. The magnificent displays that hung over the stage were designed at different heights and accented with soft flickering candlelight.
SPECIAL EVENTS: How do you assist brides with their weddings?
LIBBY: I always tell the bride that I get to do this every weekend — you only get to do it once. My job as a designer is to act as a medium and channel the bride's inner designer. If she were me, what would she be designing for her own wedding? Many times I feel myself thinking like that bride instead of myself on that bride's behalf.
SPECIAL EVENTS: Do brides have a realistic sense of how far their money can go?
LIBBY: Very few people grasp what the limits are in event design. Without scaring clients off, I like them to give me the opportunity to design the first pass of the design with the budget as a secondary issue so that ideas flow freely. We pick and choose the elements that fit into the budget and create the day.
SPECIAL EVENTS: How do you get the bride to expand her notion of how much she can spend on her wedding?
LIBBY: We provide our clients with choices and options. Some brides want the most elegant entryway to set the tone for the night. Others want the majority of their budget to be spent on the ceremony or dinner and dancing. We guide the brides to make the best choices for their specific desires.
SPECIAL EVENTS: How often do you have to talk a bride out of something?
LIBBY: It's like gently picking out the right wedding dress: “Does my backside make this dress look fat?” We help the bride look stylish on her wedding day. We try to interpret sometimes-questionable requests into chic and stylish design decisions.
SPECIAL EVENTS: What wedding trend do you see on the horizon?
LIBBY: I am always in search of anything unpredictable. What can I use as a vessel for holding floral? What can gather a napkin in an elegant fold? What can we use to dress a feasting table?
Many of our clients are hosting after-parties to add a completely different element to their event. Grazing parties with a variety of food from around the world or local favorites are very popular now. Trends are moving away from assigned seating and a formal meal toward a more interactive experience.
The use of colors is transitioning from the predictable chocolate brown and turquoise toward shades of green, gold and yellow, which is the new white. Of course, classic reds will never go out of style.
For more information on Ed Libby & Co., call 212/339-9140 or visit www.edlibby.com
Photo of Ed Libby by Nadine Froger Photography