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Prop Talk: Top Prop Trends from the Event Experts

Prop Talk: Top Prop Trends from the Event Experts

Designers and prop houses share hot themes, cool color trends and props that pop,



The popularity of such blockbusters as “The Avengers” and “Spider-Man” has resurrected the superhero theme — but not just for the kids.

“This theme is all about transforming guests from their day-to-day work environment to a fantasy setting,” says Bravo partner Greg Jenkins, who recently created a Comic-Con-themed event for a corporate client. The decor featured a variety of larger-than-life foam comic book heroes emerging from their respective backdrops — towering skyscrapers for Spider-Man, the Rocky Mountains for the Hulk and a galaxy for Thor.

When budgets are tight, theatrical and ambient light is what sells, according to Jenkins. “All events don't require props, but lighting is an element that is always needed,” he says.

However, if budget does allow for decor, Jenkins offers the following tips: For a casual reception, focus on the buffets. If it's a sit-down dinner with a program, then put your money into the stage set.

“Put the maximum amount of decor dollars where guests will congregate for the longest period of time,” he advises.



“Who doesn't like to see their name or logo in print or 3D?” asks Big Top chief creative officer David Kiedinger. “Having a branded ‘wow factor’ at the entrance helps make the event more memorable.” Such bold, personalized statements, he says, should be carried through the event, with coordinating stage backdrops, color accents and lighting elements.

Fantasy themes — Alice in Wonderland, “Pirates of the Caribbean,” “Star Wars” — are clear winners among both clients and prop houses, as their often big, bold props allow for great reuse opportunities.

“We use the same pieces for multiple theme events,” Kiedinger says. “For instance, our Alice in Wonderland items can easily overlap into a spring theme, and our giant book can be used for ‘back to school’ or ‘next chapter’ corporate events.” Recently, foam from a giant multitiered cake was repurposed into a TIE Fighter plane and two giant boulders for a “Star Wars” theme.

How do you know for sure that you have a successful prop installation? “A sign of a successful event is seeing guests having pictures taken with our props,” Kiedinger says. “The more pictures I see being taken, the more I know we nailed it.”

The complete version of this article appears in the September-October issue of Special Events. The magazine is free to ISES members; subscriptions can also be ordered here.

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