For months, Mathew Lahey followed Chicago-based event design and décor company Kehoe Designs on social media—and loved the team’s work. About one year ago, Lahey came on board as an event producer, with a focus on wedding décor and social celebrations. “It was such an incredible opportunity,” he says.
Lahey most often designs weddings and galas. “Weddings are very personal,” he says. “It’s an intimate journey for each couple. I love sharing that with them and ensuring their personal touches, overall vision, and feelings come to life.”
He describes his wedding décor and corporate design aesthetic as contemporary, with an eclectic flair. “My style results in innovative designs that inspire emotion,” says Lahey.
For this installation, Lahey brought an edgy, unique and sophisticated table design to life. “This look is controlled, but it also it pushes boundaries as I put unexpected elements together,” he says. “Each décor piece is individually beautiful, and creates a unique table design.”
Table Design Inspiration—Be My ‘Poetic Muse’
Bauhaus often dubbed the 20th century’s most influential modernist art school and offered inspiration for this trend board. “I love the color palette with the chalky blues and pink roses, also paired with geometric shapes and patterns,” Lahey says.
Kehoe Designs Creative Services Manager Noel Leontis also notes that ‘Poetic Muse’ has a strong tie to Memphis Design. “We emphasize colors that can be used no matter the season. Burgundy, rust, light blue, and pink—are rather strong colors on their own,” she says.
The goal with this installation? “Unpredictability: we chose more surprising décor elements that could fit nicely for all event types,” Lahey says.
Lahey started his installation brainstorming with a residential concept. “I was drawn to this trend board’s dwelling-like feel,” he says. “And there’s also that throwback ambiance to decades past.”
We’re Crazy for Chandeliers
The unique chandeliers—fringe-layered, three-tiered shades with a modern twist—were one of the first pieces Lahey landed on when designing his installation. “The fringe fixtures nod to Bauhaus,” he says. “The chandeliers were an opportunity for me to bring in a piece that feels nostalgic, but reads very current.”
Lahey worked closely with Leontis to create the custom chandeliers. “We wanted to do something we hadn’t before, hence the fringe chandeliers,” Leontis says. “We added a certain level of drama and softness with the ecru—drawing the eye upward.”
Leontis has noticed chintz and fringe making a comeback in interiors, wedding décor, and other events. “At first the movement was small, just in pillows,” she says. “Now we see it all over. It adds sophistication and drama to mirrors, ottomans, and lampshades.”
Turn the Lights Down Low
To lend some color-changing magic to the table design, Lahey worked with BlackOak Technical Productions Producer Jonathan Zani to place LED bulbs in the chandeliers.
“This table design was all about color and movement,” Zani says. “The patterns and shapes in Mathew’s design came to life with this special layer of lighting. Wireless, color-changing LED bulbs radiates warm accent colors.”
For extra pop, Zani and Lahey created flow and dimension through a subtle texture wash, which rotates to the bold patterns and prints. “This combination is sure to inspire alongside the innovative ‘Poetic Muse’ design,” Zani says.
While amber lighting is a compliment for this setting—Lahey notes—at another event he might choose fuschia or blue lighting for just the right effect. These little details are dependent on the overall look of what the client wants for their event.
Take Me to the Tablescape
“I am very proud of the overall design. The team did a fabulous job! The table itself is striking, in contrast with its black glass top and triangular base frame,” he says. “It could be an unexpected piece for some, and definitely sparks interesting possibilities.”
Lahey illustrated with a more understated table design—you don’t need large floral centerpieces to make a statement at weddings and corporate events. “We can group a collection of décor items that are gorgeous and cohesive,” he says. “The vision was to create something that was rather simple and sophisticated—yet detailed.”
He gravitated toward minimal florals: viburnum, King Proteas, Robellini Palms, monstera leaves and garden roses. “We went minimalistic and mono-botanical for the table design,” he says. “All the plants are grouped by the specific flower type.”
Look Underneath Your Feet (and Beyond)
Lahey also emphasized the bold vinyl floor featuring a black-and-white pattern. “This piece is extremely multi-functional,” he says, “I can see it as a dance floor cover, tabletop graphic, or printed on linen. There are so many ways to incorporate innovative designs with this type of graphic.”
Echoing the statement flooring, Lahey selected glass placemats from Lola Valentina. “What’s amazing is that you can customize them with a logo, specific brand imagery or even a beautiful floral background,” he says. “I was drawn to the black and white placemats because they complimented our floor graphics.”
When Lahey takes clients into the Design Studio at Kehoe Designs, he knows they’ll be drawn to specific décor pieces within particular installations. “As event producers and designers, it’s our job is to create a cohesive look for their event,” he says. “If someone loves a chair or a chandelier, I build something similar into their overall design.”
On the Hot Seat: Mathew Lahey
What inspires you daily?
ML: With having a floral background, nature is always a source of inspiration. Architecture and History also inspire me. One of my favorites is to think of ways and include worldly fascinations into my clients’ event designs.
Is there an event trend you’re most excited about this year?
ML: We’ve always been a fan of mixed metals, and I see a lot more being used—I love it! The pairing of vessels and furniture with very distinct patterns and other extremely bold pieces create unique and exciting looks.
What’s it like to collaborate on events with the entire team at Kehoe Designs?
ML: We’re a group of intelligent and creative people. Everyone on our team is incredibly supportive. We all enjoy what we do, so it’s exciting to bring new ideas to the table. I like to walk around Kehoe Designs and see what new ideas our team is dreaming up. I feel so lucky to be around people that share my passion for creating events.
Follow Mathew: @mathew_lahey