Advice Bureau: Theming - Going into detail

Nine industry specialists offer their thoughts on effective theming.

MARCUS RENDLE, MANAGING DIRECTOR - HYPE PARTY PLANNING

- What is your newest product or service?

We have bought 70 one-metre tall, silver candelabras. Creative florists can adapt a basic candelabra to work as a table centre or part of a set.

- What advice would you offer clients on a tight budget?

Consider what to focus on. There is no point in creating a high-impact entrance at the expense of the room. Use cost-effective items to fill large spaces and make focal points with the best items.

- What are the most important things to consider when booking theming for a corporate event?

The choice of venue is as important as selecting a theme itself. Work with the surroundings, not against them.

- What themes are popular among event managers at the moment?

Africa seems to be popular, and I think the new series of Lost and the latest Indiana Jones movie will feature heavily.

- What interesting props have you created in the past few months?

We built illuminated bars and low-level, backlit chill-out seating for our series of Las Vegas parties at Christmas.

- www.hypepartyplanning.co.uk

KIM EINHORN, MANAGING DIRECTOR - THEME TRADERS

- What is your newest product or service?

Funky furniture including cube stools, school furniture and a huge cocktail glass. Theme Traders has also opened a branch in Scotland.

- What advice would you offer clients on a tight budget?

Large props as focal points make the most impact, such as a red-carpet entrance, stage backdrop and stunning table centres.

- What are the most important things to consider when booking theming for a corporate event?

Use a reputable company. Health and safety, risk assessments and insurance are of paramount importance. Check out how long the theming company you choose has been trading under its current name.

- What themes are popular among event managers at the moment?

Theme Traders event producers find that there is always a surge for burlesque. Studio 54 and Hollywood are still up there with the leaders, although sport is catching up fast.

- What interesting props have you created in the past few months?

Huge perfume bottles, an amazing wigwam table centre, a Tardis, glowing poseur tables, light-up plinths and Manhattan skyline backdrops.

- www.themetraders.com

DAVID CHURCHES, MANAGING DIRECTOR - THEMES INCORPORATED

- What is your newest product or service?

Our LED Video Flooring System, which features scrolling logos and messages.

- What advice would you offer clients on a tight budget?

Source as many elements as possible from a company that can supply props and other things such as lighting and staging. You will maximise budget and solve logistical problems.

- What are the most important things to consider when booking theming for a corporate event?

Define your ideas clearly. If following a specific theme, commit to it completely otherwise the theming can become confused.

- What themes are popular among event managers at the moment?

Moroccan and Arabian themes are resilient, but Hollywood, Vegas, Bond and Moulin Rouge are perennial favourites. Less specific themes such as Fire and Ice or Regeneration are becoming more popular.

- What interesting props have you created in the past few months?

One of our artists was recently asked to paint a backdrop featuring images from a client's favourite films. The black-and-white piece created an effective themed backdrop that was bespoke and personal.

- www.themesinc.co.uk

KATE KASSAR, DIRECTOR - BEYOND EVENTS

- What is your newest product or service?

As an agency we don't actually have theming products ourselves, instead we scour the market for them.

- What advice would you offer clients on a tight budget?

Aim to create an atmosphere rather than a fully loaded film set. Lighting will transform a room, whereas a few props on their own can just look out of place.

- What are the most important things to consider when booking theming for a corporate event?

Remember that everything contributes to the theme. Not just the decor, but the entertainment, food presentation and invitations as well. Also, try to appeal to all the senses - think texture and fragrance along with the visual elements.

- What themes are popular among event managers at the moment?

Themes follow trends in design and film, but the old favourites remain because they work. We recently created a Winter Wonderland meets Cocktail Lounge theme, which involved lots of crisp, white cocktails in frosted glasses, high Ghost stools and cool lighting.

- What interesting props have you created in the past few months?

A giant white Christmas tree that was so large it took six standard Christmas trees to build. I think you might have reached Lapland if you'd climbed to the top.

- www.beyondevents.co.uk

TIM FORD, CREATIVE PRODUCER - THE EVENT PRODUCERS

- What is your newest product or service?

We are making great headway into proving the merits of cost-effective inflatable sets and props to our clients. The Event Producers is London's sole representative for leading French inflatable manufacturer Ditechna.

- What advice would you offer clients on a tight budget?

Sometimes smaller is bigger, and think simple. You would be surprised at how effective a few metres of silk and a couple of lamps can be in creating a great impression.

- What are the most important things to consider when booking theming for a corporate event?

Ensure that the approach to the brief, design and build meets the client's objectives and budget. Good lighting is essential, and don't overdo the branding. Make sure that the execution meets the requirements in terms of audience capacity and venue surroundings, so visitors leave the event with a lasting impression. Always comply with venue and health and safety regulations.

- What themes are popular among event managers at the moment?

Green is the big noise at the moment. Rainforests are fun.

- What interesting props have you created in the past few months?

Our exclusive giant snow shaker. It's a great example of providing an add-on to the visitor experience by including a photo opportunity, which extends the client's brand message to provide long-term interaction.

- tim@theeventproducers.co.uk

CLAIRE WALTON, SENIOR PRODUCER - GSP

- What is your newest product or service?

The new 6,500sqm Saatchi Gallery in Chelsea, for whom we manage all events, opens this summer.

- What advice would you offer clients on a tight budget?

Take expert advice on the use of lighting and technology, which can greatly enhance or transform the look and feel of any venue at considerably less cost than most people would think. It also allows you to regularly change the mood of the event very easily, if required.

- What are the most important things to consider when booking theming for a corporate event?

Try not to work against a venue unless you have a big enough budget to completely rework it. Also, try to be creative with the theme and not always go for the obvious. For example, if you want a carnival theme, why not look at a New Orleans style rather than the more standard Rio carnivals.

- What themes are popular among event managers at the moment?

A lot of companies are going with contemporary, futuristic themes. Burlesque and all things risque also continue to be popular.

- What interesting props have you created in the past few months?

We used a giant revolving pineapple that contained a bed, in a 'club room' at a recent party for mobile network 3. We also had great fun with a super-size replica of Iorek Byrnison, the armoured bear, at the world premiere party of The Golden Compass.

LORA LUTOSTANSKA, MANAGING DIRECTOR - BLONDE PRODUCTIONS

- What is your newest product or service?

Last year we ended up spending half of our time abroad and built up an amazing network of contacts, so we launched Blonde International, to give our clients bespoke events around the globe. Blonde Locations' newest venue, which is due to open in June, is the Pacha Bar in the newly developed area around King's Cross station.

- What advice would you offer clients on a tight budget?

Keep it simple. Choose one stunning focal point rather than spread your budget too thinly. Guests always remember a fabulous act or design feature, so give them something to talk about.

- What are the most important things to consider when booking theming for a corporate event?

Steer away from the obvious. Choose an edgy and creative agency that won't offer you the standard cliched packages.

- What themes are popular among event managers at the moment?

Moulin Rouge and Casino Royale are always popular ones. Our inspiration for themes comes from consumer trends and design predictions, and have included I Love Me, Plastic Planet and Myth Reborn.

- What interesting props have you created in the past few months?

We had graffiti artists spray-paint the toilets at an event, and are currently getting a 'toxic bar' built for a client for an Under Construction theme.

- www.blondeproductions.co.uk

ROSIE ELLIS, CO-DIRECTOR - EVENT PROP HIRE

- What is your newest product or service?

We are constantly adding props and themes to our online hire catalogue. We have also introduced a national pallet delivery service for small prop-hire jobs to help reduce delivery cost to the client, and are building a collection of large, themed table centres.

- What advice would you offer clients on a tight budget?

Concentrate on areas that will have the most impact on your venue, and will be seen most of the time by your guests, such as the table centres and stage area. Also consider placing a few props together to create a small, themed set.

- What are the most important things to consider when booking theming for a corporate event?

Events should look professional, so use quality props. Avoid 2D cut-outs and simple, painted backdrops. Our props are three dimensional and full of character; we also retouch them to make sure they look like new each time.

- What themes are popular among event managers at the moment?

Hollywood, Bond and Casino. Recently we have noticed an increase in more fantastical themes such as Alice in Wonderland, Fairytale and Woodland.

- What interesting props have you created in the past few months?

A 30-metre canal with bridges and gondolas, giant champagne bottle, New York cab and leaning Tower of Pisa.

- www.eventprophire.com

CAROLINE JONES, DIRECTOR - MISS JONES AND CO

- What is your newest product or service?

Our latest theme is A Piece of Havana for the Havana Club brand. We take over a city centre venue for the night and transform it into a Cuban bordello-cum-nightclub with a live reggaeton band, Triangulo Oscuro, brought in from Cuba. We also have a percussionist, cigar roller, dancers, a DJ and an electric guitar duo playing Latin American funk. We bring to life the new music and art that are emerging from Havana and work with the Floridita Events team. Our design is inspired by a street scene in Havana and the Casa de Musica - a famous cabaret club in Havana. Bar Dynamics provides cuba libres, mojitos, and daiqhiris.

- What advice would you offer clients on a tight budget?

Look for interesting props and hunt in second-hand shops. Consider venues with production infrastructure to save on sound and lighting costs.

- What are the most important things to consider when booking theming for a corporate event?

Make sure your guests will understand the theme and be sure you can execute it well. Be bold and original.

- What themes are popular among event managers at the moment?

Cabaret, burlesque, circuses and Victorian.

- What interesting props have you created in the past few months?

We manufactured beaten-up old packing crates and covered them in Cuban Customs stickers and Havana Club logos, then made them into furniture and covers for bar fonts.

- www.missjonesandco.com.


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