At Chicago-based event design and décor company, Kehoe Designs, savvy corporate branding expert and senior event producer Joey Alissa Berman maintains a full schedule by producing thematic event experiences for new and returning clientele.
“I focus on relationship building and managing expectations to form strong bonds with my clients, so they feel comfortable coming back time and time again,” Berman says.
Berman describes her design style as organic, refined and spirited. “In the wedding industry, we often hear phrases like ‘dreamy’ and ‘elegant,’” she says. “On the corporate spectrum—it’s important to bring a practical point of view that includes a deep knowledge of the client’s audience, smart branding techniques, as well as a seamless timeline. Resulting in a memorable event.”
With the rise of experiential marketing and pop-up events, Berman had the opportunity to bring a trend to life at Kehoe Designs. See how she worked her event magic into this ‘festival-inspired’ design.
‘Bring Me to the Horizon’
It’s any day of the year on a sunny Arizona patio, natural wood furniture and pillows piled high in corals, golds, blues, and teals. The desert in the distance, and cactuses of differing heights miraging in the morning haze. Billowy, airy fabrics are flowing from the pergola top. Someone’s—everyone’s—relaxation zone.
“‘Bring Me to the Horizon’ trend board is very organic, yet colorful,” Berman says. “A commonality I have been noticing from corporate clients—they want to bring in the outdoors for their events.”
Berman approached her installation the way she designs day-to-day. Producing comfortable environments that remind people of being at home. For example, the wood table could function in a dining room or as a unique meeting area in a boardroom. “We keep in mind the residential aspect and make people feel warm and fuzzy when they walk in,” Berman says. “Instead of entering a ballroom, there’s a different ambiance when you come into our Design Studio—you feel like you’re transported straight into vacation mode.”
Color Me Lime Green & Living Coral
‘Bring Me to the Horizon’ trend board’s color-blocked walls—teal moving into lime green, and then orange and coral—gave Berman a great opportunity to bring in vibrant colors. “I still kept it tasteful against all the neutrals, and polished gold accents,” she says.
Lime green is one of Berman’s favorite colors, and cacti were part of her inspiration board. Defining why she chose vivid seating to echo the greenery. “I love the unique shape of these outdoor-use, rain-safe stools,” she says. “They’re often underutilized because people don’t consider bringing them inside.”
Berman also jumped at the chance to use Living Coral, Pantone’s Color of the Year. “You’ll see that powerful secondary hue popped throughout,” she says.
Berman worked with the team at BlackOak Technical Productions to add neon light tubes following the drape’s color blocking. This amped up the laid-back patio vibe. “‘Bring Me to the Horizon’ has such youthful and spirited energy—we just had to insert some of our newest tech into the installation,” says Kevin Pelz, design manager at BlackOak Technical Productions. “The sleek LED tubes were a bright addition to an already lively design. We were pleased to see how well the cacti and neon glow blended together.”
Here’s How to Do Minimal Florals
Corporate events tend to lean away from lush floral designs, Berman’s clients tell her: “They want more greenery and candles,” she says, which is why she understated the florals in her installation to include succulents and spiky King Proteas.
To achieve the minimal-floral vision of the overall design, Berman and the Kehoe Designs art department first created an abstract hanging sculpture. The sculpture is laced with touches of gold, hanging Spanish moss, and tumbleweed—along with a series of intricately painted cacti. The team added paper flowers on the table below for a surprising color burst of Living Coral.
“The wood-like sculpture and cacti are all deceptively made of foam that we hand-painted. All flow with the same energy,” Berman says. “The red, blue and green cacti are gilded with metallic gold paint on the edges topped with starburst spikes that echo the gold candlesticks.”
‘Can’t Touch This’
The finishing touch on Berman’s installation was a photo moment by way of an eye-catching graphic on the floor: ‘Can’t Touch This’ in a script font and a group of cacti to tie the full design together.
“I want my graphics to become part of that moment: You’re at an event. See these intriguing graphics and want to capture your experience—therefore—it’s a must share for social media. The overall goal is to design brand experiences that are Instagram-worthy for maximum impact.”
‘Can’t Touch This’ is a great example of the type of graphics installation the Kehoe Designs team can execute for an event: on the floors, walls, or ceilings. “I wanted this graphic element to be kitschy. To liven things up,” Berman says.
“This design speaks to my overall style,” she says. “No detail left untouched.”
On the Hot Seat: Joey Alissa Berman
What inspires you on a daily basis?
JAB: We’re living in the age of social media. I follow a lot of interior designers, bloggers, and event producers to help fuel new ideas. I love watching awards shows where I get inspiration from fashion and set designs. I’m also inspired just walking around Kehoe Designs, especially in our warehouse. I love chatting with my colleagues, “Here’s an idea I sold, how do we elevate this experience?” I relish the opportunity to collaborate with our creative team at Kehoe Designs.
What event trend are you most excited about this year?
JAB: The color of the year—Living Coral—because it’s always cutting edge and prominent in the events industry. Although, this his hue can be a bit of a challenge for me to work it into corporate events. People see corals, oranges, and pinks and automatically think ‘wedding.’ It’s exciting to brainstorm ways to work Living Coral into event design no matter the event type.
Any great advice you can offer to other corporate event designers and producers?
JAB: Yes, I’ve got four great ideas!
- Cutting-edge creativity is critical, so do your research: By studying event trends through fashion, music, and movies—you can stay one step ahead.
- Organization and being proactive are essential, but it’s also important not to stress about the things you can’t control.
- Don’t forget to self-promote—build your brand using social media channels.
- Finally, have fun. I like to say, “A little party never killed anybody!”
Follow Joey Alissa: @joeyalissa
CREDITS: Design, Décor, Production by Kehoe Designs, Technical Production by BlackOak Technical Productions
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