Coterie Spark Idea Fest 2014
In order to jump-start the New Year, we asked our Creative Director, Bianca Ferrer, to sit down and share some of her top sources of inspiration from the last year and event trends she hopes to incorporate into our client projects in 2015.

When it comes to event design, I see four underlying themes in play as major influences on the event industry and how planners approach the design of an event. As more and more companies are scaling up their use of events and meetings for connecting with customers and employees, as are the expectations of guests as they seek one of a kind event experiences.

My creative Idea Picks from 2014 and looking forward into 2015 are organized by theme below:

The Immersive & Experiential trend has been at play for a few years now and I think it’s a trend that is here to stay. Studies on engagement are showing that people put a premium on events that allow for a platform for ‘getting lost’ or getting taken away to another world.

  • One good example of the immersive trend is seen in the work of art, “Sleep No More” at the McKittrick Hotel, a show Rebecca and I attended while in NYC earlier this year to attend the BizBash #Ideafest Expo. Sleep No More is an immersive, site specific, interactive work of theatre in which the audience and the actors roam together through a hotel experience. It is an eerie rendition of the classic story of Macbeth, providing a unique take on theatre and live events by transforming casual guests into participants- a trend we see in meetings as well as events. We were impressed with the authenticity of the experience and took note on the careful orchestration of the experience to guarantee movement of attendees throughout spaces, something every event producer looks to master.
  • While in New York, Rebecca and I attended an event that featured a deconstructed deviled egg. Any foodie will agree, there’s no limit to creative takes on service of “the egg”. What was different about this egg is that it came with its very own unique experience- something we strive to incorporate in our events that we design for clients- the idea that the presentation and function of food as an experiential element. We really enjoyed that the company featuring these eggs, Creative Edge Parties, went to the minute detail of serving the delectable deviled eggs in an actual egg shell- creating a truly memorable and one of a kind sensory experience.

Creative Edge Parties

The most memorable event experience is one which provides a moment that moves people. Often times this moment is found when planners create an element of surprise for guests. At Coterie Spark, we sometimes create an element of surprise through entertainment or even with the design of a space by enhancing contrast.

  • One person who really ‘gets’ how to create memorable elements of surprise is Kelly Nelson, the owner of Atlanta based company, LED Experience. We met with Kelly this year through her work as an entertainment designer. We were thoroughly impressed with her take on ‘background entertainment’ at a seated gala with the orchestration of an aerial dub step viola performance. The entertainment piece centered on a soloist playing a viola in an ornate gown. At a given moment in the performance, she is seen being lifted into the air and her dress is revealed to be a magnificent gown donned with 3D image mapping.
  • I recently attended a workshop featuring celebrity floral designer Jeff Leatham. One of Jeff’s design methods that I find inspiration from is his use of dramatic color contrast. He is not afraid to mix delicate pinks with harsh blacks or even design an entire arrangement in black floral. He takes floral design to another level with his use of unexpected color combinations and textures. His work really brings to life the element of surprise and we will definitely be consulting our clients to ‘mix it up’ in the new year by embracing bold color combinations.

Jeff Leatham Designs

The creation of custom event takeaways to drive a brand’s message is not new to the event industry. However, we do see more and more desire for the creation of interactive custom event pieces, as well as one of a kind creations that can serve as a unique display of a company’s message.

  • Underground Press is a vendor that is now providing live on site screen printing at events. We love this idea as a takeaway that doubles as an entertainment piece and could see bringing them into the mix for a company retreat, company celebration or even as a sponsorship activation as part of a larger event.
  • Surface Grooves is a supplier we met this year who is creating customized laser etched centerpieces. These are the perfect addition for our corporate clients, who often utilize centerpieces to deliver messages or give thanks to their sponsors at the events we produce. They are affordable, compact and easy to mail and assemble. .

Surface Grooves Centerpieces

We all know that we are in the age of mobile. While mobile provides an eye to the outside world, event producers are finding that in order to stay engaged with attendees, in order to bring them to a heightened sense of ‘now’, that we’ll have to adapt our experiences to include mobile. Two trends I look forward to enacting with clients in 2015 are the use of mobile check in procedures and beacon technologies:

  • Boomset is a company that provides real time, custom engagement with guests with iPad driven mobile check in and real time custom creation of name badges. It is a user friendly, real time check in interface for conferences, meetings and events of all sizes. The service also provides for lead generation and tracking by QR code on name badges, something that could provide savings for clients & exhibitors in allowing for real time scanning with their own devices over rental devices.
  • Ibeacon is a geofencing technology that utilizes low energy Bluetooth to exchange information between mobile users (available on Apple and most Android devices). I could see our team implementing Beacon technologies for our multi day conferences as a means for exhibitors to map engagement with guests as well as provide detailed maps for guests to follow in order to find meeting spaces in larger conferences as part of an overall conference application.

With that, I’ll offer my cheers to you in 2015 as you continue to push the limit with your creative events. I look forward to sharing more trends and ideas with you as we help our clients craft their meetings and conferences into the year.