Five Trends in Event Design

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Event design trends today are less about the color of a flower and more about the overall “design” as in “plan” of an event. Attendees may not remember a singular element such as linen, but they will recall a unique interaction with a brand and how the entire design integrated with it. Here are five such trends that will have guests doing, being, creating, laughing and most of all, remembering the experience.

1) The pop-up store that’s not a store

Following in the footsteps of the Pop-Up store is the Pop-Up Store that’s not a store at all. These temporary installations are more experiences, and while they may not be literally offering up merchandise to consumers, of course they are still selling something — a brand.

I worked on a project for Evian dubbed “Detox Evian,” a pop-up spa featuring luxurious spa treatments that incorporated the spring water. Guests were pampered and relaxed in a branded environment, but not a single product was sold.

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2) Online going offline

We all know that everyone is online more than ever, through the device and app of his or her choice. But the good news — especially for event pros — is that online retailers are increasingly finding it important to interface with customers in meetspace, i.e. the real world.

Internet titans such as eBay and Amazon now produce holiday and partnership-promoting pop-up stores nationwide, while craft and vintage retailer Etsy created a fun, interactive pop-up in Soho for the holidays.

Warby Parker, the trendy online eyewear purveyor also opened pop-up stores in downtown Manhattan (even hosting a New Year’s Eve party in one) and ultimately opened a flagship store in Soho earlier this year.

3) Urban Americana

The country’s gone crazy for this aesthetic, and it doesn’t seem to be going away anytime soon. More than just a look (the hallmarks of which are Mason jars, natural and rustic materials such as wood and cotton, chalkboards, Edison bulbs, and more) it also encompasses the farm-to-table tradition, a DIY sensibility, and small batch production of gourmet foods and spirits. Pass the rum-infused bacon molasses macaroon!

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4) Having a laugh

I don’t know about you, but most of the Internet time-wasters sent my way are one of two things: they’re either cute or funny. (OK, sometimes they’re just really cool.) People love small animals and they appreciate a good laugh or a bit of wit. More and more, I see marketers appealing to consumers’ sense of humor. Why? Because when it’s good, and truly clever, it’s memorable, with the added bonus of increasing a brand’s likability and probably getting some press.

I designed an event for Alpo at which we promoted the tongue-in-cheek book Real Dogs Eat Meat, complete with a celebrity reading by dog lover Taye Diggs. Both owners and canines in attendance had a great time, and no one took themselves too seriously, which was the point.

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5) Interactivity to the max

Participation is key to the success of an event today. One recent example of this is Toyota’s Hybrid House Party at music fests around the country this summer, where fans could create their own silkscreen tote bags and posters.

Another is a Craftsman editor event I designed, editors had the opportunity to “mow” a track at the center of the show, as well as use other products such as snow blowers, trimmers, and hand tools.

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Long gone are the days when simply being immersed in the environment of a brand is enough. Now guests are participating, doing, making the event themselves. This obviously isn’t a new trend, but it’s as strong as ever and planners are continually coming up with ways to make the experiences people have at events more personal too.

About the author : Matthew David Hopkins

Matthew David Hopkins

As Creative Director of 360 Design Events, Ltd., Matthew David Hopkins has one mission: to create moments that are unforgettable for his clients and their guests whether that be at a wedding, corporate or non-profit event, a retail store opening or nation-wide tour for clients such as The Discovery Channel. Hopkins’ formal training in architecture lays the foundation for his signature style, combining sculptural pieces with contemporary and imaginative details, giving people a tactile experience that engages all of their senses.

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