By Hillary Harris
Event planners and our creations shine brightest at night. Sure we work during the day setting up events, taking meetings, and attending to details but it all really comes together as the sun sets. That’s when carefully selected saturated colors begin to wash over the unique architecture of the event, the candlelight creates a glow and the feeling of celebration hangs in the air. Without the drama that darkness brings to event design, it’s only natural that we’d find daytime events a little daunting.
But recently, I’ve committed acts of beautiful design … and in broad daylight. The secret? Go big and bold. I’ve outlined two events produced by Warner Bros. Special Events that illustrate my point.
BOLD: Go Bright
I had been looking for a theme for our annual L.A. Screenings at Warner Bros. when I went to The Special Event last year and saw the seed of a look I wanted in these trees by Pink Inc.
They were whimsical and fantastical; so bright in color they appeared to have popped out of a Dr. Seuss book. I found the trees could be custom-made in any color combination I wanted. They were ordered in two color schemes — neon pink and orange as you can see in these photos. No lighting would be needed to light up the design.
After the trees had been ordered, we began the search for lounge furniture in the same color palette. I wanted the pieces to be modern and simple. The desired vibe was whimsical and playful. We found the furniture then added ottomans around the trunks of the trees and finished the look with pillows. The abstract flowers popped against the solid colors in the furniture.
The finishing touches were cocktail and end tables. I loved the playful curvature of the legs and the all-white enamel look. And although I’ve never used white chiavari chairs before at any event except a wedding they were perfect for this look.
But what to do about the sun? Because the trees were such a statement, I didn’t want umbrellas, but we needed shade. To achieve this, our Warner Bros. scenic arts department created a brightly colors, sixties-style ceiling treatment made from 10-foot-wide, 50-foot-long panels of sail cloth that were rigged to the buildings on either side of the street. As the light hit the cloth, everything was suddenly washed in a very complimentary shade of pink. Everyone looked fabulous! The sun, I learned that day, can be an event designer’s best friend.
BOLD: Go Big
For the premiere of the animated film, Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole, neon colors would be very out of place. Natural was the order of the day. Here, my goal was to make 800 guests feel as though they had been transported to Ga’Hoole, an enchanted forest inhabited by owls. This needed to be done in the middle of the day, and in the middle of Hollywood in front of Grauman’s Chinese Theatre.
Without bright colors to help make this event pop, I chose to go big. Scale is a great way to suspend reality and make people feel as if they are somewhere else.
And the first thing to know about scale is that it begins at the bottom. You can’t go big without laying a foundation then building upon it. So our design started from the ground up, literally. We used brown carpet throughout the event space. From here, the environment grew. As you can see from these photos we brought in trees (as well as structures built on site to look just like trees), rocks and shrubbery to create a transition entrance from the arrival carpet on Hollywood Blvd. to this fantastical world.
We had closed one lane of Hollywood Blvd. in order to park food trucks there, creating another wall of our environment. These trucks — The Patty Wagon, The Grilled Cheese Truck, Border Grill and an ice cream truck called King Kone — drove in at the last minute. Hedges between the trucks were added to further enhance the forest illusion.