IMPACT GROUP SCENIC ARTS SERVICES
TRAVEL BUG: “People love to travel and experience different cultures, cuisines and entertainment,” says co-owner Cindy Buswell, noting high demand for international themes. Whether it's a multi-country “port of call” theme or a single country in the spotlight, “There are unlimited possibilities with the visual, cuisine, entertainment and graphic options available for any size group or budget.” Among her clients' favorite global goods? “Dimensional props like the Arc de Triomphe, Buddha, ‘Old World’ buildings, thematic painted backdrops and castle entrances,” Buswell says.
PROP TIP: Make your bar a star. “If you have a large room, don't scatter a lot of small props or decor around — they just won't be seen,” Buswell says. Instead, install a standout bar like Impact Group's ultra-hip Buddha Bar (photo at top) right smack dab in the middle of the room for big, ongoing impact.
LONG BEACH, CALIF.
THE GOODS: “Ninety percent of our special event props are designed and custom-made for clients whose projects are exacting in nature and have specific marketing communications goals and objectives,” notes partner Greg Jenkins. Big-name Bravo clients include Boeing, Disneyland, Kmart and Enterprise Rent-A-Car.
GLOBAL ENTERPRISE: While geographic locations are big with Bravo's fans. “The key is to put a twist on the location and create the event in a manner that has not been done before,” Jenkins says. For a recent Saturday evening awards show, Bravo took inspiration from TV's “Saturday Night Live” (“‘SNL’ is synonymous with New York,” Jenkins says) rather than opting for a “concept that features landmarks in New York City — the Statue of Liberty, Central Park, etc.” For a hypothetical Parisian theme event staged, say, somewhere in the Midwest, Jenkins prefers the idea of taking guests on a tour inside the legendary Louvre museum, rather than plopping down an Eiffel Tower prop.
PROP TIP: Put your money where it matters. Concentrate your decor budget “where your guests' eyes will be for the most extended period of time,” Jenkins advises. “If it's a casual reception with buffets and bars, perhaps incorporating innovative and high-impact props into the food stations and bars would be advantageous. If it's an awards show, it's definitely the stage decor and lighting effects that should have the most impact.”
MAGIC SPECIAL EVENTS
VENICE, ANYONE? Venetian Garden themes are all the rage among Magic's corporate and even wedding clients, says founder Woody Thomas. He notes that statuary, columns, fountains, flora and moving-cloud video projections combine to bring “sophistication with a European feel” to indoor party spaces.
PROP TIP: Maximize a tight budget by creating “one dramatic or high-impact focal point or area,” Thomas says. “This could include highlighting bars, food stations and stages. We can also use props to create a dramatic, high-impact lounge area, with custom lounge cubes and draped sheer fabric walls.”
THE GOODS: More than a million items, from dimensional theme props to period furniture to hand props occupy Eclectic's 95,000-square-foot showroom.
SMALL-SCREEN THEMES: Sex sells at Eclectic. President Suri Beiler says clients continue to be crazy for “Sex and the City” themes, which can prove challenging, “since the majority of the show was shot in Manhattan living rooms,” she notes. “Luckily ‘Sex and the City 2’ had a good deal of Arabian interiors and locations, so we have been able to give our clients ‘Midnight at the Oasis’ many times over.” Beiler adds that another HBO hit, “Boardwalk Empire,” has given a fresh boost to the Victorian and early 20th century look. “Corporate events are re-creating Atlantic City and Prohibition-era interiors, and ‘bootleg parties’ and Roaring '20s themes are all the rage.”
THE PROP SHOP
LOUNGE WIZARD: Whether they suggest South Beach, Hollywood or Manhattan, lounge themes are leading the pack in client requests, president Steve Weiner says. Even client NASCAR, with its blue-collar beer-and-barbecue fan base, brought a high-end nightclub scene to its international sales conference. Along with giant stacks of racing tires and tons of racing flags, the Prop Shop decked out the event space with sleek white acrylic bars (surrounded by checkered tape, natch) and steel-drum cocktail tables with logo-imprinted acrylic tops.
PROP TIP: Turn an ugly structural feature to your decor advantage. For an international sales conference with a “Pirates of the Caribbean” theme, Weiner and crew repurposed a foyer's large structural column as the mast of a 17-foot pirate ship, complete with a life-size pirate in the crow's-nest. The unsightly-column-turned-scenic-focal-point also played a supporting role as a visually exciting back bar.