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ISES Pages July-August 2010

ISES Pages July-August 2010

Five Things You Need to Know about Event Design

Are there really only five things you need to know about event design? Absolutely not! Are there really five things you should know about event design? Absolutely! I give my five things to you with no hard evidence, but with two decades of experience, intuition and knowledge of what makes a great event. I share them here with you.


    As so much does, event design comes down to creativity and profitability. But it's not about being profitable for just one event. It's about creating a sustainable business for you. While we all want to go above and beyond expectations, it's imperative that you know where to draw the line with the budget.

    My suggestion: Instead of adding on dazzle, add value by allocating the budget in such a way that the design is focused on one central prop, floral piece, sculpture or stage treatment. Whatever it turns out to be, make it big, make it spectacular, make it perfect. All the details will fall into place around it.


    Yes, the client hired you, so he or she likes your style. But the purpose of the event, the company brand, the demographics of the guests and the location all come into play when designing an event.


    A good event designer studies other designers. A great event designer studies everything. In addition to knowing what is available in your local prop houses, look at interior design stores and at industrial design. Check out magazines outside this industry to see what textures, colors, shapes, styles and trends are hot.


    Or in other words, find ways to get more bang for your buck. Look at your location. What can be hidden, disguised or transformed in order to create a totally new environment? Lighting is a great way to emphasize something, but darkness can also be your friend. Use areas of light and darkness to create interest. Bold patterns and colors, whether light or fabric spread over the venue's main surfaces, can create a look that is lush, layered and textured.


    The last step is to make sure to engage the audience with all five senses if possible. What they see (lighting and design elements), what they hear (soundscaping and entertainment), what they taste (a menu presentation that meshes with your design), what they touch (texture) and what they smell — that's right, smell. Of course food is an obvious choice here, but there are also companies who have developed ways using scents and fans to pump smell into the room.

    Look beyond the normal avenues to create design that is unique, reflects the client and event objective and, most importantly, creates a memorable, total experience for the guest.

Name: David Merrell

Company: AOO Events

Address: 5850 W. Third St., Suite 350 Los Angeles, CA 90036 USA

Phone: 323/467-2111

E-mail: [email protected]

Web site: or blog

Innovative Decor: The Rebirth of the Use of Balloons

In the last year, Future Affairs Productions, a design and decorating company based in Providence, R.I., has been working with a new and different decor medium called Qualatex Decorator Shapes that has heads turning not only around the country, but also around the world. The creators of the product, Pioneer Balloon Co., called upon Future Affairs to showcase and launch this new product. One of the first applications of this innovative decorating technique was used at the ISES Rhode Island Black Tie and Blue Jeans Gala in the grand ballroom of the elegant Biltmore Hotel and again recently at the World Balloon Convention in Dallas.

The Qualatex Decorator Shapes come in a variety of sizes in the shapes of Starpoints and Tapers. The shapes are then assembled in patterns to create the most unique walls, screen surrounds and chandeliers. Combining this decor with fabric and innovative lighting magnifies the impact because of the shapes' highly reflective material.

We have just scratched the surface on the potential of what can be done with this product. We are working with Pioneer Balloon Co. to come up with new shapes that can expand our design options, providing an array of uses that will best serve our customers' needs now and in the future.

What makes the shapes very user- and budget- friendly is that they ship flat, there is nominal on-site production equipment required, and rigging in most instances is minimal. The Future Affairs team has been using the Decorator Shapes at a host of venues serving multiple event decor needs such as backdrops, accent pieces, stage sets and chandeliers. Once they are designed, they are simply installed with hooks.

Just recently the Future Affairs design team was hired to decorate another final-night event, “An Evening of Stars” in Dallas for the World Balloon Convention. Here, the team combined the use of these new designs along with an incredible array of special effects.

The Decorator Shapes were used to create the main stage set, unbelievable screen surrounds and floor-to-ceiling perimeter decor. In addition, eight special-effect chandeliers framed with the Decorator Shapes were constructed and then hung in the ballroom. On cue, the spheres exploded, releasing chains of twinkle lights from the ceiling with thousands of pieces of Flutter Fetti™ filling the air, creating a spectacular effect.

We have worked with a lot of textures in our careers. In lieu of fabric shapes or sculpted forms, Qualatex Decorator Shapes provide big solutions, a wow factor, affordability and a whole new level of design and decor applications.

Name: Terry Mulryan-Toomey

Company: Future Affairs Productions

Address: 310 Bourne Ave.
East Providence, RI 02916 USA

Phone: 401/421-8811

E-mail: [email protected]

Web site:

Name: Rocky Toomey

Company: Future Affairs Productions

Address: 310 Bourne Ave.
East Providence, RI 02916 USA

Phone: 401/421-8811

E-mail: [email protected]

Web site:

ISES Eventworld 2010: It's Baltimore or Bust!

When we discuss ISES Eventworld® each year, we always want to tell you about what great education opportunities will be available to you as an attendee. We talk about networking and seeing industry friends that we haven't seen for months at either The Special Event or the last ISES Eventworld. Finally, we remember the fun activities held throughout the three days of ISES Eventworld that somehow keep coming back into our memories, bringing a warm smile to our faces as we reminisce. Well, 2010 Eventworld plans to be this and more! We'll also give you three opportunities for savings you won't forget!

If you attended our January ISES leadership meeting in New Orleans, you know that my engaging and inspirational committee members and I visited all the chapter meetings to offer you some insight on Eventworld 2010 and warned you, “This ain't your mother's Baltimore.” We said this because Baltimore has new and improved sights to partake in during the conference. You'll enjoy the newly built (nine years) Marriott Waterfront Hotel as our host hotel, offering attendees a $169 room rate that includes free Internet during your stay. That's savings No. 1.

After a long day of educational meetings and learning sessions, be sure to stop at our new ISES Connections™ Lounge right outside the meetings area on the fourth floor. ISES Connections will be open on Thursday and Friday immediately after the last educational sessions end to allow you to relax, network, grab a cocktail (or not) and meet the ISES Board of Governors while engaging in activities for the next three hours. ISES Connections will replace our past welcome reception and … it's free! That's savings No. 2.

Look for something different each night while you connect, engage and relax. Afterward, go enjoy Baltimore and have dinner. There's so much to be seen right outside the hotel doors. But, save your energy for two parties you don't want to miss: Friday night, the ticket is the SEARCH Foundation celebration, which is always welcoming and enjoyable while helping a great cause. Saturday night, attend the ISES Esprit® Awards celebration. This event is still under wraps, but I can tell you to get your hairdo ready and dress yourself for a fun and exciting evening with industry professionals basking in the spotlight. It's a great way to recognize those who have excelled in 2009 with their events, which wasn't an easy task to pull off in 2009. Come celebrate Baltimore-style.

So, are you looking for savings No. 3? Well, it's you! You, the event professional, who has been saving all your energy, excitement and valuable time to attend one conference this year that delivers education, networking and some memories to take home and use in your business or life, all at a price designed with you in mind to be affordable. You, who have all struggled in 2009 with an economy that forced you to make changes and sacrifices while looking for 2010 to begin a rebound — this is for you. Set your daily planner for August 5 - 7 in Baltimore, Md. Log onto and click on the ISES Eventworld banner to register and reserve your space today. It's Baltimore or bust!

Name: Michael F. Tannen, CSEP

Company: T-TEAM Management Inc.

Address: P.O. Box 9826
Wilmington, DE 19809 USA

Phone: 302/765-3945

E-mail: [email protected]

Leveraging Teamwork to Empower Your Business

Marketing and advertising can get very expensive, very quickly. The Knot, for example, charges $149 per month for an online profile in one region. Now look at Philadelphia, where the city is considered one region, the surrounding suburbs are broken into at least three regions, and you're close enough to New Jersey, Delaware and Maryland to consider regions in those states as part of your reach as well — you're already up to $894 per month. As I'm sure we've all heard by now, in order to be remembered, a prospective client needs to see your name in three places. Add online advertising with and then in a local resource, and you're quickly up to over $1,000 per month at least — not including print advertising.

I cringe at the amount of money I've spent on marketing my company throughout the course of the 10 years I've been in business, and very rarely did that investment generate referrals.

Without a strategic plan that reaches your target audience, I equate advertising to taking a pile of cards, throwing them up in the air and hoping that someone who matches your client profile happens to catch one. And then, once they've caught one of your cards, you sit anxiously on the edge of your seat waiting for that client to call and book an appointment.

When I opened my third studio in Doylestown, Pa., I decided to save myself some anxiety and choose a new strategy for marketing and advertising. I joined and got heavily involved in the local chamber of commerce and a local women's group, on top of calling venues, planners, florists, jewelers and more to introduce myself. I offered my services gratis to give myself the opportunity to work with these pros and show them firsthand what my business is about and, most importantly, my work ethic.

Working on the board of ISES Northern California, I learned that being part of a team is crucial to gracefully executing a successful event. The trust has already been established, and that frees up each professional to focus on his or her own responsibilities. This trust is what drives the team.

Now that you're armed with this knowledge, here is an action list of how you can build your own team:

  1. Get involved in your local ISES chapter.
  2. Join and get involved in your local chamber of commerce and any other applicable local groups.
  3. Make a list of local pros and reach out to them to introduce yourself and offer your services to them.
  4. Follow up!
  5. Create your own group of pros who also specialize in your discipline, and work together as a team to promote your services.

Name: Natalie Napoleon Wi

Company: Allure West Studios

Phone: 267/247-5858

Web site:

E-mail: [email protected]

ISES Editorial Team and Staff

Alexis M. Gorriarán, CSEP
Volunteer Editor
[email protected]

Amie Shak
[email protected]

Kevin Hacke
Executive Director
[email protected]

Kristin Prine
Operations Manager
[email protected]

Lauren Rini
Education Coordinator
[email protected]

Meghan Berger
Chapter Services Sr.
[email protected]

Tom McCurrie
Membership Services Associate
[email protected]

401 N. Michigan Ave.
Chicago, IL 60611 USA

T: 800/688-4737

T: 312/321-6853

F: 312/673-6953

E: [email protected]


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