Want to work in… event design?

Event Styling

Sure, you want to be in events, but what does that actually mean? It’s a big, wide event world out there full of different sectors with different employers wanting different types of people with a range of different skills. Maybe you’re over-the-top with your list making or perhaps love the idea of putting on a ‘access all areas’ lanyard and telling people where to go (in a nice way of course). Maybe you’re just a natural people-person or excited by the concept of managing a crowd but does this mean that you can make a career out of it?

Yep, we know it’s confusing, so to breakdown the event employment opportunities out there into digestible chunks we are introducing a new series of blog posts called ‘want to work in…?’ We reckon there’s no better way to grasp what someone does for a living than hearing it from the horse’s mouth—well, from an informed point of view at least. So, we’ll start with event design because…well, just because. Oh, and because lots of people ask us how they can make use of their creative gene while still being able to organise till their heart’s delight. And who better to ask about this particular role than Jada Bennett Cross, current lecturer at CoEM but former head designer with the wonderful Decorative Events. All those of you that love a bit of creativity with their events, please read on…

Jada Bennett Cross

Jada Bennett Cross, current lecturer at CoEM and former head designer with the wonderful Decorative Events.

Q. Please give a brief description of the role of an event designer?
A. The role of an event designer is to take the event from its very first initial brief and create a design concept that truly gives the event itself an identity. I often call this giving the event an ‘emotion’. It’s all about creating a look and feel that suits the event, its hosts, and ultimately, the guests. It’s about grabbing their attention from the get-go and sparking an emotion through inspiration, colour and the use of the basic elements and principles of design. It’s about creating a concept with an experiential approach – to evoke all the five senses and create a feast of sight, sound, touch, taste and smell. These are the events that are remembered more than any other.

Q. Is it as glam as it all looks? Why?
A. The end result is! The concept phase isn’t ‘glam’ as such, but it certainly is the most creative part and the part where you get to be inspired, play around with the look and create a visual representation of the end result to convey your design – usually done through the use of mood boards, 3D renders and mock-ups. The production of the concept is then the ‘nuts and bolts’ if you will, a collaboration between you; the designer and your production team. The styling of the event is the final phase of the process and it is simply amazing to watch your visions come together – we might not look very glam at this stage at the end of a hard day on our feet, but we feel pretty glam, because all the hard work has paid off and the event design is brought to life!

Q. What’s your favourite event that you’ve ever styled?
A. I must say it was probably my own wedding – that was pretty special, and with all hands on deck from my work colleagues, family and friends we transformed a marquee into a vintage-inspired lounge full of chandeliers, flowers and beautiful eclectic furnishings. It was emotionally-driven and pretty amazing to watch it come together on the night before.

Q. Has any job ever gone completely disastrously wrong?
A. The actual wedding day! Only weather-wise though!! We happened to have two tornados fly through Kiama during our wedding, which meant that none of the outdoor styling elements could be used. It was devastating as my design for the outdoor elements of the day and evening were all not able to be used at all and our wedding aisle and styling features had to brought inside the marquee! Luckily we turned the inside into such a beautiful space that it really didn’t matter at all.

Q. What attributes would you have to make a great event stylist?
A. You need to be creative, resourceful, have a love of researching and be able to think on your feet and deal with last minutes changes and issues that may arise (but that’s in events in general too!).

Q. What advice would you give someone trying to crack it in this particular part of the industry?
A. Do as much work experience as you possibly can! Be hands on and proactive in the industry. Stay creative – make inspiration boards and stay on top of upcoming trends.

Q. What do you love about being an event designer?
A. Being able to constantly use the creativity and design skills that I so love to explore! And it means I therefore don’t have to re-style my house every week just to design something new!

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