Event Design Series – Part 6: Good, Bad, and Ugly

Our final installment in the Event Design Series on the Portland Event Planner blog. Continuing our discussion of event design (and please, make it a discussion by commenting)…

More about our Event Design Series here at Part 1, and where the questions came from

Part 6: Case Studies: Of all the designs and/or event decor you’ve come up with, what has been the most successful and why? …And what was the biggest ‘bust’?

I’m not going to post any client pictures as that would probably be a shock to the client that I thought their design was “a bust“. I will tell you that my weakness is sometimes being TOO accommodating to the client’s wishes.

In this example, I had a client who told me she cared absolutely nothing for decor and just wanted to make sure that the chairs in the room didn’t squeak against the floor. She had attended an event in the same venue for a fundraiser, and was horrified at the constant squeaking and grating noise the venue’s wooden chairs made against the bare concrete floor.

Obliging as always, I agreed to rent some very basic (and in my opinion, unattractive) hotel banquet chairs with little rubber tips on the chair legs. This way, my dear client would not have to endure that squeaking sound.

However, the rest of the event decor was compelling – she worked with a wonderful florist, we printed individual menus, and her guests received an adorable favor; one per place setting. Those details, coupled with the wonderful catering and simple, chic linens she had chosen meant that her choice of chair, which I had gone along with, was glaringly out of sync with the rest of the clean, classic decor. Looking back, I wish I had just suggested we purchase soft-felt furniture sliders and offered to attach them to all 800 chair legs. It would only have taken a few hours, the venue probably would have loved it, and the overall look would have been much more appealing. (Of course, this is all in my head – not a single guest, nor the bride, said anything about the ugly chairs!)

As far as a successful design? Again it seems that it came from taking a client’s wish and running with it wholly. In this event, the only direction my client gave was that she wanted “a big red party”. Working with Portland Art Museum, Vibrant Table, Royce’s Prop Shop, and Geranium Lake, we did just that. It is still one of my favorite designs of all time.

Photos: Robert McNary for Melissa Jill Photography

What are your thoughts about successful design — what constitutes a blowout or a bust? Any great event design stories to tell? Please share in the comments below.

You might also like to look back at the previous parts of this series:
Part 1- It’s an Event Design Series on The Portland Event Planner Blog!
Part 2 – Event Design Trends
Part 3 – Sustainable Event Design
Part 4 – Event Budget and Design
Part 5 – Event Theme and Design

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Event Marketing Buzz: Tillamook Cheese Company scores big with the Tillaphone #ComfortCall, delivers grilled cheese to #FeastPDX attendees at 2am

Much of Portland is still recovering from Feast Portland (#FeastPDX), last weekend’s festival of Oregon food and drink that has been called “the SXSW of food”. As reports trickle in on which events generated the most buzz, one clear winner emerged in using FeastPDX as a marketing tool: Tillamook Cheese.

Photo via @joancirillo on Twitter.www.twitter.com/joancirillo

Photo via TripStyler on Instagram

Their PR department targeted chefs and VIP attendees, journalists and bloggers, and gifted the ultimate in swag: a charged-up phone marked “Tillaphone” that the recipient could use to call for a hot grilled cheese delivery, at any time during the festival up to 3am. Attendees using the service were told to use the hashtag #ComfortCall when mentioning the benefit over social medial channels.

And did they mention it! A quick search of the #ComfortCall hashtag shows dozens, if not hundreds of happy, satisfied tweets from influential chefs and bloggers; alluring Instagrams of gooey grilled-cheese sandwiches, and jealous tweets from people who went to bed early and missed out.

How Tillamook Cheese will measure the ROI from this clever marketing stunt, I do not know. All I know is that Sunday afternoon as I was doing my weekly shopping, I bypassed my usual brands of cheese and butter, and almost as if in a trance, put the Tillamook versions in my cart.

Feast Portland benefits two important charities: Share Our Strength and Partners for a Hunger-Free Oregon. To read more about the event, please visit the Feast Portland website.