Senior Event Producer Timot McGonagle at Kehoe Designs works like a Renaissance painter. “For example, much like these artists ground their pigments, I grind the pavement for opportunities to manifest unique designs and innovative ideas for events,” he says, “whether through amazing lighting or eye-catching centerpieces.”
For this dream-like installation, McGonagle created an ethereally engaging tablescape for corporate parties and weddings. “As a result, this uniquely designed atmosphere is fully immersive,” he says. “It’s meant to spike guests’ curiosity.”
INNOVATIVE IDEAS: ONE BIG, WILD UTOPIA
McGonagle, who collects colored and textured art glass, gravitated toward the ‘Wild Utopia‘ trend board.
“It’s about luminosity in many places: underwater, in the northern skies’ Aurora Borealis, and far into space,” he says. “Besides, it’s translucent and reflective. There’s natural movement as the surfaces react to the world around them through refraction and reflection.”
Pondering more extensive thematic possibilities, McGonagle then lit on his unique design concept: Energetic conversation begins at the table.
“We possess an insatiable need to gather together,” he says. “That’s why the joy of the dining experience inspires discussion. As a result, many of the greatest ideas and accomplishments in human history began around a table.”
Hence why McGonagle imbued his installation with both kinetics and movement. “What results: a living pulse that invites guests to observe their surroundings,” he says. “It’s truly an innovative idea.”
UNIQUE DESIGN: AN OTHERWORLDLY EFFECT
At the heart of McGonagle’s unique design? The drama of a central, lit-up ceiling structure reflected in a glass-filled centerpiece and table and mirrored acrylic floor. “Therefore, our effect is a layered translucence,” he says, “creating an optical illusion, an infinity. Also, we could mount this focal piece above a mirrored dance floor. ”
Also, Kehoe Designs’ team covered the ceiling above the luminescent, beehive-like cone in high-reflective silver mylar. The cone’s textured wrappings encase multiple LED light strands arranged in a DNA helix spiral.
“Timot’s innovative idea of transforming a typically static dinner centerpiece into a visually striking performance was a pleasure to bring to life,” says David Beaupre, Art Director at Kehoe Designs. “His take on a crystalline vortex was a challenge to create due to the marriage of translucent materials and technology.”
All told, the giant cone contains 300 linear feet of LED lights emitting ambient video content. “Instead of traditional color changes, we fed ambient content through the strands to create a more complex, varied organic flow of light,” McGonagle says. “We can program random patterns along with more specific, spiraling type patterns to symbolize the raising and lowering of energy.”
McGonagle and Beaupre wanted to showcase the diffused choreography of light but didn’t necessarily want to reveal the mechanics of how they did it. “That’s why we concealed the fixtures with plastic drop cloths and balloons, resulting in a functional and unique design!” Beaupre says.
ENGAGING UPLIGHTING & BEYOND
The light fixture’s inner skeletal metal frame and spiral core support the LED light strands. Then, the light diffuses through layers upon layers of crushed clear and iridescent plastic. Next, the outer layer of dichroic, laser-cut pendants adds even more texture and complexity. “These sculptural elements set off a massive kaleidoscopic effect,” McGonagle says. “That’s why the uplighting is magnificent.”
Practically, McGonagle ensured that the cone’s tip was suspended 18 inches above the table. As a result, it doesn’t impede guests’ sightlines or touch the centerpiece. “From there, we felt the reflections were the true centerpiece,” he says. “The result is a table set for a beautiful meal.”
McGonagle envisions this innovative idea parlaying into a buffet or dance floor focal, an entrance arch, a stage facing and backdrop, a DJ surround, and backdrop, or a photo op area. “Also, we can produce this piece in limitless shapes depending on the application,” he says. “Or we could incorporate it into a head table at a wedding, contrasting the practicality of it against its conceptual part.”
CREATIVE CENTERPIECES & LAYERING
McGonagle layered reflective décor elements as centerpieces to capture a portion of the ceiling structure on its path to the floor. After that, he paired a glass-and-chrome table with transparent Phantom chairs.
Clean and contemporary table settings include sleek stemware and flatware—along with frosted and ice-like chargers. Besides, McGonagle’s only tabletop linens are white napkins. Also, a computer-cut silver mylar graphic border rings around the table’s outer edge.
“The clear glass elements let you see through the various levels and discover how each surface has uniquely captured the design,” he says. As a result, each glass charger adds another translucent layer as you view the reflections below through the frame of its silver rim. Then, an 8-foot-by-8-foot acrylic mirrored floor captures and reverted the uplit ceiling sculpture.
Finally, McGonagle chose wall draperies that mimicked the inside of a crystal. “Gradations of iridescent or dichroic curtaining,” he says, “like what you’d see on carnival glass.”
THEMATIC EXPERIENCE: THE KINETIC COCOON
It should come as no surprise that McGonagle’s a huge believer in experiential events. “My goal is to create an immersive, 360-degree environment that defies ‘traditional’ event concepts,” he says.
That’s why he calls his enlivened environments, “kinetic cocoons.” In this installation, McGonagle’s energetic tablescape and eye-catching centerpiece draws guests closer.
As the cone structure’s point reflects on the table and onto the mirrored floor, McGonagle views it as an infinity of two points coming together. “This shape also resembles an hourglass or the eternal,” he says.
That’s why McGonagle loves the ever-changing layers of this unique design. “It’s a constant discovery from all angles,” he says. “Even as guests walk up to the table, they’re reflected in hanging sculpture and the table, so their presence becomes part of the design.”
THE HIDDEN PICTURE CONCEPT
The installation décor conducts McGonagle’s unique design energy, along with how it inspires those who experience it. “This is my grand vision of the ‘hidden picture’ concept,” McGonagle says. “That’s why I took a multi-layered approach to constant discovery and rediscovery.”
In conclusion, with his unique designs, McGonagle answers each opportunity a client presents him. “I have a good radio receiver to capture ideas,” he says. “Also, I work with an element of surprise. I joke that I may not be playing with a full deck, but I have a few wild cards up my sleeve.”
On the Hot Seat: Timot McGonagle
Advice for an event producer or designer when they get constructive feedback from a client?
TM: I was a fashion designer for ten years, so I’m used to rejection. That’s just part of the gig. I do feel that my event themes rise up in response to the energy generated in my client meetings. That’s why when we go to the venue together, and I get a flurry of ideas, I don’t get too emotionally attached. Therefore, if the client loves an innovative design, it was meant for them. If not, I save it— and then it’s a perfect fit for someone else. In addition, I look at constructive feedback as the refinement of our overarching event theme. As a result, it’s a true collaboration with my client, since we bounce ideas back and forth to create an event they love.
Do you ever get “event producer’s block”?
TM: No. I nurture my creativity every day. For example, I have a lot of daily habits like writing in my morning journal and reading. I feed myself a constant stream of information. When I’m brainstorming for a client, I use an unusual method: In fashion design school, I’d draw dozens of sleeves. I wouldn’t judge my work. As a result, it’s the same with unique designs for events. I let the innovative ideas flow, and I permit myself to create. When I review my thoughts—I know right away—which are the best. It’s like getting goosebumps when I recognize them.
What’s something that surprised you about your creative side?
TM: Once, I took an aptitude test and thought creativity would be my number one quality. Nope. Creativity was number three. Number one was strategic refinement. So much for me being a prodigy! Seriously though—I realize that’s how I create unique designs. That’s why I strategize and refine my ideas. I call it “intelligent design.”
People talk about art, and of course, event design, as being both personal and original for the event producer. What’s your take?
TM: Everybody channels information through their lens and history. That’s why I sometimes resist trends, fads, or colors. Ultimately, I respond to the opportunity the client presents. It’s essential to develop relationships with my clients. I view myself as a “manifester” of ideas by syncing with my client. Ultimately, the event we produce has to be entirely in line with my client’s desires and goals.
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