I was asked to design an event in a sophisticated, rustic style, with a significant WOW factor to divide the space. The venue they selected was the perfect backdrop for their request: the stunning Blue Sky Ranch in Coalville, Utah. I knew I would have to call upon one of my favorite principles of design to pull it off: CONTRAST.
Contrast is when two or more elements with opposing characteristics are placed together in a space. This is accomplished using many different aspects of design, such as color, shape, size, material, texture, style, or finish.
Contrast was the tried and true principle to ensure my design would stand out in the space, creating a memorable event. The space has wall to wall unfinished planked wood floors; to add any more rustic elements would be completely lost. I decided I would use soft textiles that were sumptuous to the touch, with clean lines and reflective, smooth finishes.
Two conversation areas were placed back to back with a flower-and-prop accent between the two. Charcoal grey velvet sofas anchored each conversation area, with tobacco colored leather chairs and benches. The placement of a brass cocktail table on the the outside of the conversation area opened it up for guests to sit on both sides of the bench, giving additional seating. Faux fur throws and pillows added another layer of soft contrast.
Under foot I broke the cardinal rule of rug placements: the budget wouldn't support larger rugs to fill the conversation area such that each piece of furniture had at least two legs on it. So I created the illusion of having softness on the floor by placing the rugs under the coffee tables and in front of benches. Strategic placement of the rugs allowed people to see the contrast between the rough floors and soft rugs as much as possible. In the image below, guests approached the sitting area with the rug in front of them. When guests were seated they would see the rug, which visually softens the space.
The client wanted a wow factor, and I wanted to break the room up so the conversation areas were more intimate. I used two seven-foot dome structures from a previous event and turned them perpendicular to create a screen that was mounted on two steel uprights, placing them a little over eight feet high. They were filled with a sweeping design of flowers from the floor to the center of the structure.
For the flowers our talented florist Kelley Neal recommended "lush wildflowers" with lots of greenery that looked foraged. The combination was a wonderful compliment to the space. You had to wonder if he went and picked it from nearby surroundings or if they were from the flower market.
On the back side of the screen a long social table divided the room in half with conversation areas on each side. To add interest I opted for the tall social table and bar height chairs so that all the seating wasn't at the same height as the conversation areas.
Taking the time to know and identify the principles and elements of design that are most relevant to a venue or space is essential. It ensures that all the hard work of designing and sourcing the products will pay off. You'll be able to maximize your client's dollar by bringing in elements that are the best choice for your event.