Lili Shadab, creative director and CEO of Elite Productions in Laguna Niguel, Calif., understands what it takes to use creativity, concise communication and streamlined production management to create two back-to-back, separately designed events using one tent.
Elite Productions was given the fun, yet challenging task of creating two distinct, back-to-back events at a well-loved beachside parking lot on the California Riviera as a part of multiple day conference in Laguna Niguel, Calif.
The setting for both events was a 45-foot-tall, 195-by-100-foot structure that featured an “indoor” area under white panels with a clear gable at the entry and an “outdoor” area under clear panels to provide an open-air feel to the space. The tent became a “dive bar” for the first event, with the distressed wood tables, billiards and rough-hewn bars of a typical roadhouse, then was transformed within hours into a sexy night club for the second event.
“From what we have seen, corporate events and social events tend to work best for one tent that needs to be transformed and used for multiple events,” Shadab says. “We manage the logistics for this type of project by clear communication with venue, vendor and event teams.”
Event number 1: The dive bar
Elite Productions’ crew designed the themes based on the headline entertainment for each evening. The first night was designed as a dive bar, celebrating the distinct culture of the ’70s and ’80s and featuring the classic rock band Foreigner as the headline entertainment.
The tent decor and food reflected the style of a beloved roadhouse. From traditional tavern treats, such a peanuts, popcorn and pretzels, to a variety of food trucks offering other cuisine options, guests could revel in the sights, sounds and tastes of a bygone era.
The event design included custom-built brick walls, which were covered in stickers, graffiti, metal signs and old license plates—further conjuring the dive bar vibe.
“Floral decor with architectural accents and used green elements such as recycled and crushed soda cans; beer bottles and metal mesh inflections gave a new meaning for what some may consider ‘trash,’” Shadab says. A 98-foot-long, clear canopy extension provided expanded space for party revelers to enjoy while playing billiards and partaking in beer and whiskey bars.
“Designing a one-tent, multiple events project is where experience in this industry helps,” Shadab says. “It is important to the success of the project. These types of time restraints and client expectations cannot be met otherwise. We always say that mistakes are not an option; in the case of large events with so many moving parts there is next to no time for correction if things have not been thought through and communicated clearly in advance.”
Event number 2: The upscale nightclub
Following the concert by Foreigner, the “rundown roadhouse” design was dismantled within hours and turned into a sexy, posh club where 50 Cent entertained concert goers. The only things that remained the same for both events were elements related to the infrastructure: the tent, flooring, restrooms and power. The decor, florals, bars and floor plan were all changed.
Attendees were treated like VIPs, Shadab explains, greeted with a red carpet, velvet ropes and chandeliers. A custom laser light show opened the concert and set the party-centric tone. The up-close concert offered a unique experience for guests as 50 Cent performed his hip-hop hits in a club environment.
The tent design boasted lounge areas with posh furniture and metallic and patent leather benches and accents separated by 20-foot-high sheer drapery. Gorgeous imported crystal chandeliers added refinement, sparkle and shine. Black crystal chandeliers with candles and deep red roses and tulips added to the esthetic. For dessert, in honor of 50 Cent, an over-the-top candy shop featured a neon sign, LED-lighted cotton candy and hundreds of confections.
To make the transition smooth from one design to the next within one tent, it’s important to have an accurate and well-thought-out multiple-day production schedule, as well as communication with all suppliers and the team, Shadab says. It’s also important for event planners and tent production companies to expect longer days.
For this particular project, Elite Productions faced a wealth of unique challenges. “The time constraint of the location being on a public property of one of the most expensive areas of Southern California provided many restrictions as far as time limitation, sound and security,” Shadab says. “We had many other challenges—with rain and high winds on the first day and a couple of vendors who made mistakes on the delivery times that created a domino effect. The floor covering was added for the second day event and the vendor providing this was delayed and, of course, no one could do anything until the flooring was down. Again, here is where all of our supportive team handled the delay and doors opened as scheduled. Also being that it was on a public property, we needed to consider multiple regulations by the city and county relating to permits.”
As Shadab and her team spoke with the guests on the following days they were repeatedly told about how exciting it was for them to walk into a completely different experience within a few hours. Guests loved the element of surprise and how Elite Productions was able to incorporate all the details to complete the overall experience.
“I believe that with our experience and incredible partners we were able to create one of the best series of events to date,” Shadab says. “Being that we have been in this business for 20 years it is exciting to work on challenging projects. The normal everyday events are wonderful, as we love the business that we are in. The challenge and accomplishment of larger or more detailed events are what we live for.”
Based in Plymouth, Minn., Maura Keller frequently writes about applications of specialty fabrics.
Pulling off a one tent-multiple event project is not easy. Lili Shadab, creative director and CEO of Elite Productions Intl., Laguna Niguel, Calif., says it is extremely helpful to be able to use some of the same staple elements for both events.
“For our event featuring Foreigner and 50 Cent, we were not able to do so as much, other than the table rentals,” Shadab says. “However, in [past events] we have used some of the same furniture twice. And by adding accent pieces we were able to cut back on a lot of delivery and pickups as well as savings on the overall project.”
Shadab stresses that clear communication with all staff and vendors is essential in executing an event seamlessly. A precise timeline also is key.
“It works out great for the client to be able
to use a venue that has been created more
than once as there are many savings that apply
to building the infrastructure of the venue and
using it for multiple events,” Shadab says. “Sometimes it may be cheaper than renting balloons with food and beverage minimums
to meet. Here, we have the freedom of using
any kind of catering and dramatically
changing the vibe by switching the type of
food service provided. For example: Outdoor
BBQ one night and food truck the next. The
type of food service is just as much a part of
an event theme as anything else.”