We write about beautiful celebrations all year long and want to take a moment to recognize the event professionals whose work has inspired us most. To that end, we’ve started PartySlate Select — a program honoring outstanding event industry leaders and tastemakers. We spent the month of January celebrating one amazing event design/décor/floral company each day and here we’d like to more fully share what makes each one so impressive.
David Beahm grew up surrounded and inspired by nature’s beauty. His florist godfather and gardener grandmother taught him to work with blooms and greenery from a young age. In college, he focused on performing arts and, in fact, originally came to New York as the company manager for the city opera’s road company before managing a flower shop on 53rd and 8th. His dual passions served him well when he entered the event décor industry. He says, “It all came together really nicely. I really appreciate my opera experience because it taught me think on scale.”
Beahm’s work has elevated the industry as he helms a top-notch team of dream-makers including floral artists, ironworkers, muralists, food stylists and more — leveraging the skills and talents of a wide network of professionals to bring fanciful ideas into reality. His team executes his guiding philosophy beautifully: “We are given two ears and one mouth, so I like to listen twice as much as I speak. I believe it is my job to tell my clients’ story while standing back and guiding the big picture — and to direct the end result while still being a team player.”
Beahm has a branch dedicated to destination events and has some insightful suggestions for exciting and unexpected venues around the world. Specifically, Monteverdi in Tuscany which is “a wonderful hotel in an old medieval village without paved roads or sidewalks,” The Ranch at Rock Creek out west “for a wedding or birthday, I can’t think of anything better!” and Peter Island “because it’s small, intimate, and they have a really amazing spa there.” He adds, “When choosing a venue for any destination event, it’s really all about special experiences and recalling family history — why are you there? Then, it’s our job to help our clients figure out how to tell that story.” View Profile
Josh Spiegel, President and Creative Director of Birch Event Design, runs a a luxe floral, décor and production company but at 19, he was selling flowers on street corners every Friday. Eventually (thankfully!) he was given the opportunity to “play” with his floral knowledge. Of his young, energetic, creative company, he says, “We don’t take ourselves too seriously.” It’s a refreshing approach that leads to a more enjoyable design process for all involved.
When it comes to design, Birch has a simple but effective philosophy: Work with the space! (the enthusiastic exclamation is all theirs). “Yes, it’s a dream when you have the budget to change a space altogether but when we don’t, our philosophy is to work with the bones of a space to find something unique within it,” says Spiegel. When people inevitably comment on how luxe and edited their company’s designs are, Spiegel reveals their secret, “Don’t try too hard.”
With so many stunning events, choosing a favorite is like choosing a favorite child, but Spiegel does note an event he especially loved in 2017. “We created a world within a traditional ballroom in NYC,” he says. They staged, carpeted and built over-the-top arches to take a vast commercial space and transform it into an intimate inviting, warm and detailed environment. He adds, “Watching it come to life was a dream — but watching the guests enjoy it was a dream come true. I’m usually allergic to cheese but I felt the sentiment was well-suited here!”
Spiegel’s trademark wit was again on display when we asked him to share his favorite places to travel. His response: “Who travels? I work!” View Profile
Photo courtesy of: David Stark Design and Production
David Stark went to art school to be a painter then got a job as a waiter to pay the bills. He soon came up with a more creative way to make money to support his art: flowers. “But ultimately, and over time, the work I did for events became my painting,” says Stark. It was a creative outlet that also paid. Small floral jobs led to bigger and bigger floral jobs until one day it occurred to him that flowers might not be the only solution for event décor.
“Flowers were a wonderful tool, but if I looked at the world around me for other material inspiration, then the tool box got much more interesting and BIGGER,” he says. While flowers will always be a first love, his team uses a myriad of materials to conjure gorgeous events. He says of the approach, “We now look at each event and ask ourselves: What is the right material to tell the story?”
In fact, storytelling is at the very heart of what this firm does — and the approach has led to renown. “While design is at our core, and we are technically an event planning and design company, what we really do is tell stories. We don’t use our décor to decorate, per se, we use décor to convey meaning,” says Stark. When guests attend a David Stark Design event, they are participating in a narrative.
An perfect example of this was 2017’s Target design dinner at the Vancouver TED Conference. Stark explains, “We used the egg as our muse. It’s Mother Nature’s most perfect design object, right? We created a progressive dinner. When guests were seated in the dining room for their first course, they thought that that was going to be their spot for the entire night. But hidden behind a grand wall constructed from thousands of white eggs, a second dining room awaited. At the right moment, guests were each handed a wood mallet and instructed to simultaneously break the hollow egg sitting in front of their place settings. Inside each egg was a new seating assignment, and guests moved to the new dining room for the next portion of the evening. Function and form melded together beautifully for a surprising and inventive evening that guests loved. I’m proud of the how event looked, but I am even more proud of how the evening worked.”
Accordingly, the team’s design philosophy is: It’s perfectly ok to break the rules as long as you do it brilliantly. View Profile
Photo by: 4 Eyes Photography
Ed Libby’s career in the event world began when he was in art school and got a part-time job as a driver for a flower shop. He quickly jumped from driver to designer and developed a loyal following. At the young age of 18, he started his own company with the design philosophy to “take people’s breath away and never leave them wanting more.” Libby and his team accomplish this lofty goal by curating events that offer an experience for all five senses.
For more than 30 years, Libby has been building a creative resumé of show-stopping events incorporating inventive design with live entertainment utilizing artists, actors and models for immersive event experiences that create lasting memories. He says, “At a single event, we will have constantly evolving moments of discovery. It’s so much more than the initial impact or room reveal. I feel we have a responsibility to constantly keep guests stimulated and looking forward to the next ‘and then…’ moment.” This approach has guests staying till the end so as not to miss the “finale.”
A prime example is a 60th birthday event at a private castle that Libby designed for a client. “We went through a scripted event that had guests participating in several scenes,” he says. The party started in the rose garden and the entire castle exterior was video-mapped with climbing and spinning roses. Guests worked their way through breathtaking interior scenes which culminated on the front drive. “The drive was filled with fire-dancers and entertainers on a firetruck with wailing sirens. We video-mapped (quite realistically) the entire mansion burning to the ground behind them. The final tagline on the invitation was “party till the house burns down’ and they certainly did.” The Libby team excels at listening and honing a clients vision then translating into a creatively gorgeous affair like this one. View Profile
Photo by: From Parris With Love
Mark Rose actually began his illustrious career in the events space on the catering side of the business. But he realized that his gift was in décor design rather than delectable dishes. He says, “I fell in love with big parties at the Smithsonian and National Gallery which allowed me to be creative in a very big way.” Rose’s education in architecture, art and design combined with a decade overseeing the public flowers and events at iconic spots like The Plaza Hotel and The Pierre Hotel has resulted in a design company well-known for elegant affairs.
Like many creatives, Rose gains knowledge and inspiration from travel. ”I go to Japan a couple of times a year bc I lecture about NY weddings with one of the largest floral companies in Japan and I’ve been really fortunate to see how another culture entertains. It’s been an extraordinary opportunity for me,” he says.
Rose’s guiding philosophy that “simplicity is the ultimate in sophistication” is readily apparent — and reliably consistent — in the team’s stunning events. Rose says, “I tend to attract the girl that’s looking for something grand and romantic and I’ve worked really hard to stay true to my own style rather than duplicating what others do. It’s worked for me for 25 years.”
One of Rose’s favorite events of last year was a wedding at the Pierre for a family who really wanted something “unique and special.” While that’s the wish of most brides, this family really ceded creative control to the Rose team. “It was an extraordinary experience because they gave me carte blanche to create something for them. I was able to get really creative.” As a result, the exquisite event was greater than the sum of its parts. View Profile
Photo courtesy of: Preston Bailey
In trademark Preston Bailey style, he responded to our question about how he got started in the events space with frank and wry humor. He says, “I got started because I was broke and needed a job.” The full picture is a little more nuanced.
Since 1980, Preston Bailey has been bringing theatrical flair to floral design, creating environments that surprise and delight his high-end clients. With a focus on bringing nature inside and a commitment to risk-taking, his team has created stunners like a floral dance floor (thousands of blooms under plexiglass) and “flying” carpets of water, flowers and light drifting overhead. “We are not afraid of being way over the top,” he says. In fact, his team’s guiding design philosophy is: “If you have seen it before, don’t do it.”
His strong imagination has built a steady roster of clientele. In fact, one of Bailey’s favorite events of last year was thewedding of tennis sensation Serena Williams. “It’s not often we have the good fortune of working for such a talent who is also a truly wonderful person,” he says of the experience.
Bailey doesn’t copy others in his designs but doesn’t mind emerging designers learning from his successes and failures. He’s generous with his knowledge — teaching PB Protégé master classes for event professionals and dishing about mistakes and offering advice, humor and inspiration on the PBTV section of his website.
Raúl Àvila Inc.
Photo by: Allaire Bartel
Raúl Àvila has been a fixture on the event design scene since he opened the doors to his décor and production company in 2005. For almost as long, he’s been the designer of choice for the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Annual Costume Institute Gala, where he’s tasked with conceiving a dramatic floral installation for the Grand Hall each year (in addition to every other décor detail for the event). In the past, he has conjured a towering bamboo forest staircase and an 18-foot tall birdcage with live peacocks — each year is a new unique vision. While he thinks on a grand scale, Àvila is adept at events of all sizes. His clients include Cartier and Condé Nast as well as fashion luminaries Anna Wintour and Oscar de la Renta.
Photo courtesy of: Design House Decor
The origin story of Design House Decor mirrors the narrative of all wonderful, much-needed services. “It all started when we were getting married ourselves 10 years ago. We shopped around to find a company that catered to our taste and style, only to find that we weren’t happy with what was available,” says Azizan Ali (one half of the husband-wife team behind the company). The duo wasn’t interested in cookie-cutter options and repetitive designs.
Azizan had an eye for design, honing her skills at the Fashion Institute of Technology while her husband, Nauman Ali, boasted a background in engineering. Starting an event design business “seemed like the obvious thing to do,” says Nauman. “Sometimes life has a way of putting you in the right place at the right time.” They started their business at the young ages of 21 and 24 and have discovered that they not have survived working together, but thrived.
They’ve developed a design philosophy of always pushing the boundaries. “Most customers can only envision what they’ve already seen. It’s our job to push the envelope to create something new. Repeating a design or copying something that has already been done is simply boring,” says Azizan. They draw inspiration from fashion, architecture, other cultures, nature and more.
Together with their team of designers, florists and creatives, they produce scenes that engage all of the senses. The team has had many memorable events but one of their favorites from the past year was a wedding at The Plaza Hotel in New York City. They designed a massive 16-foot floral ring filled with cascading flowers that was suspended from the center of the ballroom. “The sheer lushness to the design look was simply breathtaking,” says Azizan. View Profile
Photo courtesy of: Renny & Reed
This company boasts a long and rich history that dates back to founder Renny Reynold’s business opening in 1974. “Renny was one of only a few big names through the 80’s and 90’s, designing in NYC and all over the country. From in-house designer at Studio 54 to a handful of events at the White House, our firm was well-established by the time I joined in 2000,” says Reed Reynolds — the other half of the now-named Renny & Reed. Reed has built up the company to include full event production services in South Florida, in addition to NYC.
They pride themselves on being “a big little company” referencing their intimate, family-based approach and team of industry veterans as well as their multiple retail operations and two independent event production teams. The guiding philosophy that unites all of these disparate areas of the firm is that design solutions shouldn’t be a struggle. “Similar to an improvisational piece of music, when the right notes hit it all just falls into place. I’m often inspired by outdoor surroundings, both natural and architectural and love embracing the tiniest visual details of everyday life into much larger concepts,” says Reed.
The team has gained a strong reputation for their ability to transform any space in the service of curating awe-inspiring celebrations where no detail is overlooked or surface left untouched. For example, one recent event — a welcome party on the Ocean Lawn of the Breakers Hotel in Palm Beach — featured a 9-foot tall floral pineapple focal point made entirely of sunflowers and palm fronds. Their events are as gorgeous as they are immersive. View Profile
Photo by: PS Photography and Films
Golf Srithamrong, founder of Tantawan Bloom, started the firm after gaining a floral design education in Chicago and New York. “My goal was (and is) to create designs that are out of the ordinary,” says Srithamrong. He quickly realized that the event industry would allow him to imagine and craft beauty on a grand scale.
Tantawan Bloom’s design philosophy is quite simple. “We strive to create clean, sleek and modern designs that represent our love for symmetry, lines, structure and textures. Designs that are out-of-the-ordinary and inspired by architecture, fashion and modern art,” says Srithamrong. The team takes pride in their uncompromising vision and providing the utmost attention to detail.
“I think every designer in the industry shares many similarities — we are all in this to make our clients’ dreams a reality. However, we do like to incline our creative side toward more abstract art and floral installations that have not been seen before. This combination of nature, man-made articles and structure makes us unique,” says Srithamrong. His team’s dramatic creations defy gravity and belief and have earned them a strong reputation for contemporary event design worldwide.
Accordingly, Srithamrong himself finds inspiration near and far — in New York’s flower markets and in his favorite place to travel, Barcelona. He says, “It’s a truly inspirational and gorgeous city. The vibrant energy is like no other and well, they have Gaudi. The locals are beautiful, the food is fantastic and the entertainment is amazing. What else could you ask for?!” View Profile
Mindy Rice Design
Photo courtesy of: Mindy Rice Design
Mindy Rice has always had her own view of design, unrestricted by the ideas of what’s always been done. She began working in the events space in college as part of a design team working on huge corporate functions. Rice says of the time, “Weddings were not quite as they are now — bubble bowls were just about what everyone used in 1990. I had a company cast urns out of plaster because they didn’t exist! My first business card was torn handmade paper and a rubber stamp. The funny thing is, it wasn’t being done… people went crazy over it!”
As you’d expect, her eponymous company strives for something different. “If it were up to me, I would NEVER do the same thing twice,” says Rice. And yet with her team’s thriving originality, their design principle is relatively understated: “Work with your surroundings. That’s it.”
And while it’s never easy to single out a favorite event, Rice does share details about one celebration she loved from 2017. “We had an amazing client…like AMAZING! She was beyond daring, brilliant, creative and contagiously dynamic. She had so much trust in us that by the wedding day, we literally had the same butterflies she did,” says Rice of the experience. Her design team worked alongside planner Laurie Arons to create a cliffside tent that they filled with edgy, yet well-designed, pieces — including a slew of enormous taxidermied animals. A large male moose presided over the reception. “Its was beyond — loved it!” says Rice.
Photo by: Jessical Claire Photography
Eddie Zaratsian is an artist and visionary who helms a team who cultivate a sense of wonder with their events. “I design to feed all five senses — to create a feast for the soul,” says Zaratsian. Client connection is at the heart of all that they do, learning about how their clients love and live and their ultimate vision for their celebration. Zaratsian instills that level of curiosity not only in his team but also in his students. He runs programs to teach his techniques and expertise to aspiring artisans. In addition to Eddie Zaratsian LIfestyle and Design, the renowned designer also oversees the talented team at his floral production company, Tic-Tock Couture Florals — which just happens to be another one of the inspiring companies on our list! View Profile
Photo by: The de Jaureguis
Keith Laverty earned his event professional stripes by working in all facets of the floral industry from creating very high-end custom silk floral arrangements on Madison Avenue to working for Zen Floral Design Studio and Rosewood Hotels in Dallas then in Los Angeles as head of the Hotel Bel Air floral and event studio. Having left his design mark on both the east and west coasts, Laverty began his own namesake floral design firm.
The team has a guiding philosophy of keeping it simple. “Good design is not using everything, but rather a few amazing pieces. Focus your attention on a WOW factor, taking into consideration the clients wishes and requests,” says Laverty. And it’s actually this last part — a hard focus on client service — that sets Laverty apart. They commit to only one event per day in order to make sure that each client receives their full attention. Laverty says, “We pride ourselves on listening to our clients wishes and creating something custom just for them, better than any other company. We focus on superior customer service, are innovative, unique and FUN.”
With that directive, it makes sense that Laverty and his team build long-term relationships with their clients and are invited back to design every one of their milestone events. In fact, Laverty’s favorite celebration of last year was working with a family they’ve known for 16 years. The team provided the florals and décor for everything from the welcome party to the wedding, using their proven method of partnering with some of the best vendors in the industry and focusing on making the event all about the client. That extends to utilizing all of guests’ senses. Laverty says, “Sometimes creating a custom scented candle that the guests smell before they enter the event space creates an expectation, element of surprise and curiosity.” View Profile
Photo by: John Russo Photography
Mark’s Garden is a California-based floral design firm founded by Mark Held and Richard David. The company has built a loyal roster of clients and is in demand for high-profile events like the Emmy Awards, the Academy Awards’ Governor’s Ball, celebrity weddings and other over-the-top celebrations. The team’s floral artistry is stunning in its scope and creativity. They tell color stories with their blooms and have are skilled at a wide range of styles from restrained and modern to over-the-top whimsical. Their creative designs are regularly featured in publications like Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar. View Profile
Photo courtesy of: Petals LA
Founder and Creative Director of Petals LA, Saco Sarkissian, got started in the events industry at a young age. His dad owned a catering company and after graduating UCLA with a degree in English, he decided to join the family business. “Then I found my passion in flowers and design,” he says. Sarkissian has recruited a talented team of artisans for Petals LA, a company well-known for their couture wedding florals and signature love boxes.
The design philosophy that has steered the company to success is one of putting the client’s needs at the center of every celebration as the team pushes the boundaries of what’s possible in floral and event design. Sarkissian’s ultimate goal is to “envelope guests in a moment in time.” He says, “It takes a lot of time and effort to create such a transitory moment — unlike designing a house or a piece of furniture which may last a lifetime, I’m designing a moment — and it’s important to make it the best moment possible.”
One of the team’s favorite “moments” of the past year was Rihanna’s 600-guest fundraiser, the Diamond Ball in New York. “The feeling when it all comes together, and the team I was working with on that event — we’re all still feeling the excitement from that night,” says Sarkissian. View Profile
Photo by: Katie Beverley
Edgardo Zamora began designing when he was 23, with his own fashion label in Argentina. Before long, he was designing the environments for fashion shows, trade shows and retail spaces. Upon moving to Spain he was commissioned by a well-known nightclub to curate different designs for each glorious summer night. He says, “It was a great experience and such good training. It opened up a new horizon for me.” Zamora then founded Revelry and has grown it to include five talented designers.
With a carefully-chosen inventory, the team has perfected “residential design” in events. Zamora says, “We have the ability to transform any space into a sophisticated high-styled dining room, lounge or ceremony site.” The team reliably produces truly remarkable, inspired events and interior design.
In 2017, the team notably worked their magic at a wedding at the Dolby Theater (where the Academy Awards are hosted). They crafted a dramatic entrance into the ceremony which featured endless florals, a gold mylar aisle and a custom scroll railing. “It was truly one of a kind,” says Zamora. The cocktail hour on the lawn featured a custom 360-degree embellished bar while the reception boasted a ceiling installation of 10,000 lights and 100,000 crystal drops. The luxe feeling of the event carried through to the gold serpentine tables and a gilded dessert train that carried treats as it made its ways along — what else? — golden tracks. View Profile
Photo courtesy of: Rrivre Works
Rrivre Davies got his start working in film in the art department as a production designer, prop master, food stylist, and so on. In 1995, Disney was debuting their animated feature “Pocahontas” and Davies’ roommate was chosen to do the catering and was asked to refer someone to design the buffet. Davies says, “I was called into a meeting fully expecting to be in charge of the buffet designs, nothing more. I sat down, and boom, the questions started flying. How big should the tent be, how many buffets do we need, where will the exits go, where are the kids activities going to be placed, how many scenes from the movie (which none of us had access to) will you represent in the tent, how can you make this something we have never seen? Apparently despite my lack of preparation, they were happy with my on-the-fly answers, because I was hired and the premier was an amazing success. Disney was my first client, and to this day is still a client.”
Davies’ design vision — and that of his namesake company — is derived from his childhood experiences of building and restoring homes with his parents, his mother’s career as an artist, and travel. “I saw different culture’s approaches to the same physical constraints of building and creating. Gravity, torque, leverage, tensile strength — what I learned was that form can meet function. So I never think it can’t be done, I always think about how I want to stretch the possibilities, knowing that after I figure out the physics, I can figure out how to make it beautiful,” he says. That can-do attitude coupled with a gorgeous design vision is how the team at Rrivre is able to consistently create stunning celebrations.
Exposure to culture and tradition especially inspires Davies in his familial home in England as well as Turkey and Morocco. He says of the latter two countries, “What these incredibly rich cultures have in common is that they’re both gateways to another continent…If there were ever a doubt that the merging of cultures created beauty and innovation, these two countries answer this question.” He appreciates a diversity of designs, smells, flavors and people, and the sense of history that comes with travel. View Profile
Photo by: Lin & Jirsa Photography
Shawna Yamamoto started her eponymous design company out of her garage and says, “Here I am 9 years later in a 7,000-square-foot space and there’s still not enough room!” That’s because her team’s services are in high-demand owing to their level of devotion to their client’s point-of-view.
Their design philosophy centers around the basic idea that gorgeous design doesn’t have to be expensive. It’s refreshing and real. Yamamoto says, “If you ask for something unique, expect to get something unique. I don’t design for myself or my own aesthetic — that’s why my portfolio showcases so many different ideas and styles. I truly listen to my clients and design for their aesthetic.” The team’s high level of service is reflected in the variety of their body of work, rather than in their adherence to a singular, unyielding vision.
Yamamoto herself draws inspiration from anything and everything around her. “When I travel, I feel a sense of freedom to think outside of the box. My senses are on fire when I travel and I embrace all of it,” she says. She brings that energy right back to her clients. View Profile
Photo courtesy of: Tic-Tock Couture Florals
This team of floral innovators view mother nature as their partner in creating bloom-driven visuals. They handily mix disparate elements and somehow are able to beautifully combine even the most contrasting of colors, crafting harmoniously stunning events. Their signature designs have adorned their clients’ most important occasions — from weddings to Mitzvah events and milestone birthdays. The team has built a reputation for listening closely to their clients’ desires then exceeding their expectations. Lifestyle expert Eddie Zaratsian oversees all aspects of the team’s signature pieces and VIP clients. View Profile
Photo by: Kent Drake Photography
HMR Designs began as a small boutique floral design studio with two employees focusing on residential floral and events. CEO, Rishi Patel says, “Thirty-nine years later, our focus has yet to change: to be one of the best event design firms in the nation.”
When it comes to favored events, the HMR team is always excited by celebrations where the clients ask them to push the boundaries of tradition, design or aesthetics. Patel says, “We love the challenge when events crave fresh design concepts, new venues and truly custom environments.” Accordingly, at the forefront of the team’s creative vision is a philosophy of pushing the limits of conventional design while maintaining a feel of understated elegance. “Good taste never goes out of style,” says Patel.
While the entire team loves the adventure and excitement of travel, it’s no mere hobby — they are fully capable of design and production across the globe and have designed events in 16 states, England, France, Ireland and more. Each and every time, their goal is to create truly memorable celebrations. View Profile
Photo by: Kehoe Designs
Tom Kehoe, president and founder of Kehoe Designs, has cultivated a design philosophy of insatiable curiosity for what’s next. He finds it invigorating to meet brand-new client visions and challenges and is rewarded by the beauty of, and reaction to, the final design. He has built a wide-reaching team that includes specialists in everything from ironwork to fabric design — and has even opened his own spectacular venue — all in the service of creating memorable events. “The end goal should always be to elicit a visceral, and overwhelmingly positive, emotional response from the client. Deep customization of lifestyle interiors in which elevated, interactive technology and intuitive décor merge, is the hallmark of everything we do,” says Kehoe.
Last year’s UNICEF Gala is a Kehoe personal favorite, not only because of the joy of creating its chic design, but also the heartfelt cause. The old-Hollywood glamour style of the event evoked the spirit of one of UNICEF’s most notable ambassadors, Audrey Hepburn. Kehoe describes the scene: “The faces of smiling UNICEF children were the unequivocal stars of the evening, with their radiant smiles beaming from every chair back, and from the custom stage backdrop which portrayed one simple but impactful message: HOPE.” The décor was mid-century inspired with mirrored bars, chrome accents, and smoked glass hurricane candle holders. The space was awash in cyan, dark blue and white, inspired by the organization’s color palette. The unique event was hosted at Kehoe’s own industrial chic event space, The Geraghty.
When it comes to inspiration for his growing event design empire, Kehoe cites Machu Picchu as by far his most impactful travel experience to date. He says, “Not just the destination, but the trek as well. It was physical and intense, yet mystical and spiritual at the same time. The natural beauty is daunting and has a way of taking you out of your head and connecting you with the divine.” View Profile
Photo by: Erika Dufour
Revel Décor is part of the Revel Group, under which falls Revel Global Events, Limelight Catering and Revel Space — all part of a family of independent Chicago businesses led by highly-creative professionals. Revel Décor boasts a team with infectiously positive attitudes. Their shared values include: being first, being the best, over-promising, over-delivering, working hard and playing harder. “We love the business so much that many clients become lifelong friends, making our jobs pretty much the most fun jobs ever,” says Revel’s chief creative officer, Sarah Banasiak.
The group takes a boutique approach to each design, striving for modern, innovative, avant garde experiences. They balance serious design with a playful attitude. Says Banasiak, “During the creation of Revel Décor’s first website, we envisioned a fictitious woman, Vivienne, as our muse, who inspired everything we did. When working on projects today, we still wonder what Vivienne might do.”
Not surprisingly, the company encourages travel at every chance. Travel allows the team to explore and discover the new ideas and inspiration that keep their designs ahead of the curve. It’s that kind of commitment to creativity that leads to the design of never-been-done before events like a recent tented wedding in the South Garden of the Art Institute. Alongside planning partner, Marina Birch of Birch Design Studio, the team offered dinner service between the trees on custom black lacquer tables and included edgy custom pieces that “drew crowds from all over the city during the weeks-long set up.” View Profile
Photo courtesy of: Bella Flora of Dallas
Lucy Diaz-Flores had a passion for florals even as a youth. One of her very first jobs was working as a floral designer for a small, local florist. “I started as an assistant to the veteran floral designers, but was always looking for a new challenge and an opportunity to move up in the company,” says Diaz-Flores. Then to round out her experience and become more familiar with servicing high-end clients, she accepted a position with a destination management company.
The combination of floral design and destination management coupled with her strong work ethic and competitive personality led her to open her own full-service floral and event design company, Bella Flora of Dallas, in 2000. Then, with a growing inventory of beautiful furniture and tabletop décor, she launched Bella Acento, a luxury event rental company.
The Bella Flora team is composed of design chameleons. They’re skilled at creating stunning events in a variety of styles including traditional or modern, rustic or glam. Diaz-Flores says of the approach, “Someone could look at ten different weddings that we had produced within a year and probably not guess that they were all designed by the same company! We love the challenge of creating something new and refreshing that really reflects our client as a couple.”
In order to reflect their clients, Bella Flora designers invest time in getting to know them, asking about everything from their personal style to their favorite travel destinations. “We always ensure that our client is 100% satisfied with their wedding and that the design is timeless. We want the couple to look through photos of their wedding day for many years and someday show photos to future generations, remembering it as the best day of their lives,” says Diaz-Flores. View Profile
Photo by: Elisabeth Millay Photography
Jackson Durham Events’ team has designed an impressive roster of events that’s even more extraordinary when you consider that no two events are ever the same. “It is very important to us to have each event customized just for that couple! We always put our client first and strive to show their personality throughout all of the details,” says partner, Sara Fay Egan.
This team draws their inspiration from their clients and the event spaces they’re working in. They strive to highlight the natural attributes of each space to their advantage, finding inspiration in varied architecture and landscapes. They’re also inspired by other cultures and food; Italy is a favorite destination for the team. Egan says, “We have been fortunate enough to design a wedding in Italy in the past and we can’t wait to be back again this fall!”
While they operate internationally, one of their favorite events was in their hometown at the Dallas Museum of Art. “We were fortunate enough to utilize furniture and fixtures from Arteriors — the father of the bride’s company — that truly allowed us to customize the wedding for the couple,” says Egan. View Profile
Photo by: Christian Oth Studio
Todd Fiscus founded his namesake design company on one simple principle: do beautiful work. He says, “Regardless of trend or style, it must be beautiful.” Fiscus finds beauty even in the smallest of details. He appreciates planning and positioning an environment to encourage togetherness and has been designing and curating gorgeous and meaningful events to that end for more than twenty years.
When his team begins working in a space, they first assess its bones and interior finishes. “I like to start there. For clients that don’t want a space transformation, it’s best to begin working with the space you’ve got and make decisions from here,” says Fiscus. Known for creating “life excursions” — journeys away from the everyday — Todd Events captures each client’s personality with style and heart. View Profile
Photo by: Stephanie Pool Photography
Nancy Liu Chin started wedding planning for friends (and friends of friends) back in the 90’s when she was working as an assistant buyer at Macy’s. She planned a friend’s wedding and says, “From that point on I was fascinated and obsessed with how to transform space.”
She’s been at it ever since, with a guiding philosophy to curate polished, effortless designs that are never boring but never garish. Liu Chin has curated an amazing team of floral designers and artisans who share her passion for the environment and utilization of local resources. She says of her team, “One of the things that I’m most proud of is that we’re strong floral designers so our events are floral heavy! I am so all about the details and about removing distractions to create clean lines and guest-friendly environments.”
A recent cherished event of Chin’s was a surprise wedding she planned for a professional basketball player for her favorite team. “It was extra special for me that he wore the boutonnière that I made when he wasn’t so sure he wanted to wear any flowers on his lapel. It was a nice surprise when I saw him wear it!” she says. Her team enjoyed working with the down-to-earth couple to choose meaningful details all the way down to photo booth décor.
Lui Chin gathers inspiration from her favorite spots in Asia and Mexico. She says, “I love Vietnam because of the rich history and the food!” and everyone who knows her knows that Cabo — especially the One and Only Palmilla — is her happy place. View Profile
Designs by Sean
Photo by: Johnathan Scott
“I always wanted to be an artist but I felt because I couldn’t paint and I couldn’t draw, I’m wasn’t an artist. Until I realized there are so many different forms of art,” says Sean De Freitas, founder of Designs by Sean. As a child he was mesmerized by the yearly festival of Carnival in his Trinidad home. He began designing, building and wearing costumes at a young age, which later translated into creating costumes for events. De Freitas pushed himself to learn a new medium: florals.
In Designs by Sean, De Freitas has created an award-winning event design firm that curates every single piece of a celebration to feel a certain way. They offer total event conceptualization. De Freitas points out that, unlike the theater where you rehearse many times, with events you often have only six hours or so to put all of the pieces together. “You get one chance. The pre-thinking is as important as the execution,” he says. To that end, his team offers everything from stage lighting and design to custom costumes, interactive entertainment and, of course, event floral arrangements.
Photo by: Alakija Studios
Jose Graterol has been designing awe-inspiring events since 1994. With a background in fashion, interiors, lighting, garden design and architecture — the combination of his prior experiences have made him a well-rounded innovator in the luxury event and floral design world.
His team is inspired and motivated by happiness, joy, and art. They value collaboration and, as such, view the client interview process as one of mutual selection and appreciation. Graterol says, “When a prospective client comes to interview us, we are interviewing them at the same time. We try to ensure we are able to provide our clients with the best possible personal service!” Graterol’s group wants to confirm that they’re the best fit for their clients so that they can produce the event of their dreams (actually, beyond what they can dream!). Not only does the team custom design each event they produce, but they literally clean every item with white gloves.
Community stewardship is a shared value and Graterol’s favorite event of last year was the Heart Ball in Scottsdale, Arizona. He says, “It was truly a memorable event on so many levels. We hired local students who work in a floral shop inside their high school in suburban Phoenix. It’s so exciting to help out the community in which we worked!”
Events by André Wells
Photo by: Davide DePas
André Wells began his illustrious career in the event design industry as a meeting planner for the Public Broadcasting System (PBS). From that humble beginning, his talent carried him to where he is today — founder and CEO of his own full-service planning and design firm. His team produces events from concept to conclusion; they are well-versed in design and flow, regardless of type of celebration. That means that corporate celebrations, weddings, or social events are all able to be produced by any combination of the team. Wells says, “Our cross-polarization over all of these segments helps sharpen our sword and build our world to produce amazing events.”
A case in point was a recent four-day social event that the team produced. “The function had a myriad of events both big and small, formal and casual and a mixed audience of over 600 people. We were able to not only create beautiful spaces, but also create environments that made guests feel comfortable, luxurious, and like they were really being take care of. It was a very thoughtful and well-executed project. I was grateful for the opportunity,” Wells said.
Though their designs are on a grand scale, the team’s guiding principle is edit, edit, edit. “Also I like an aesthetic that’s not only beautiful but, functional!,” says Wells. To that end, the team travels the globe for inspiration. Wells’ favorite destinations are Paris and the “bohemian-style” islands of Turks and Caicos and Bermuda.
Photo by: Rob & Winter Photogrpahy
Designer Christopher Confero has spent a lifetime feeling at home on a stage. “All of my years in the spotlight taught me production and performance, though now I work in the shadows. Every experience that I create has elements of live theatre — staging, lighting, costuming, props. I live for a good show!” he says.
His team at CONFERO believes that life should be beautifully celebrated. They are imagination-driven, yet considered and practical — a hard combination to come by. Confero elaborates, saying, “If we are able to combine the explicitly different elements into a clear new sensibility, then we have successfully realized our calling. Yet there has to be a cohesive and logical approach or it’s just nonsense.”
A big part of their recipe for success is their connection with their clients. “When we find someone who vibes on our wavelength, that’s when the magic begins,” says Confero. And that “magic” is something to behold, from visions in white to explosions of color, their designs are a feast for the senses.
While his event design business takes him all over, from Atlanta to Ghana, he loves to travel for pleasure too. At the top of his hit list are Iceland, Paris and Amsterdam (for its “culture and carousing”). Domestically, he favors Manhattan for its “electric energy.” View Profile
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