Are you a David Stark fan? I absolutely am. He’s a New York based Celebrity Event Designer but that title doesn’t convey how remarkable his events are. There are plenty of event designers out there who can put on a lovely event. But what sets David Stark apart from the rest is his creative vision and approach to the design of the event as a whole. His events have something extra. Something special. It is the intention with which he puts on his events, that give them life. I’m dying to check out his new book, David Stark: The Art of the Party It has 25 of his events (including private parties and charitable galas) and shares how he developed the overall theme for each party, as well as the coordinated details and expertly crafted decor he created for each party.
I’ve always been drawn to his work. His creativity reaches far past the realm of entertaining and is next level. He is an inspiration to me so when I got an email from “his people” I was so excited to a get the chance to ask him a few quick questions.
What unexpected places do you draw inspiration from when brainstorming for a new event?
“I am really open to the world of options and influences when coming up with ideas. Of course, the flower market and farmers markets often provide natural inspirations, but I look to a bevy of other options both live and digital (Pinterest and Instagram are a never ending pathway for ideas!) to bring us to unique, new concepts for our projects. Here are just a handful of places we hunt low and high for materials, ideas and concepts:
Hardware stores, the fashion runway, films, theater, music, antique fairs and stores, museums, art galleries, supermarkets, books, art supply stores, travel, magazines, history, architecture.”
What event, that you created, really let your creative juices flow?
“As we are right in the midst of planning and designing the upcoming Whitney Museum Gala (the last event that will be held in the Marcel Breuer building before the institution moves into its new home downtown), I can’t help but think a lot about last year’s event – we’re REALLY proud of that evening which was not just a party, but an art happening.
The centerpiece of the event was a life drawing “class” replete with nude models posing on stacks of vintage Louis Vuitton trunks (the ever chic retailer was the evening’s sponsor). Throughout the evening, hundreds of guests at easels surrounded the model platform, making scores of drawings of the varying poses. This was living décor — so interactive, but it also brought attention to the beginning of the Whitney Museum and it’s archives of life drawings which we projected throughout the space in an ever changing landscape of drawn décor.
Above the long, rectangular dining tables dressed in artists’ canvas, an optical illusion of painting stretchers floated overhead while an array of paint cans and brushes marched down the dining tables as if an artist was on break from his or her painting.
This evening perfectly illustrated one of our entertaining philosophies: Create a conceptual moment in time in which the essence of an organization is put into three dimensions. This is not about decorating. Rather, it’s really about integrating what an institution is about, what an evening is about, impregnating meaning into the décor.”
I started out these questions thinking I was going to get a little bit in to the mind of creative genius. But really I got in to the heart. Entertaining is about so much more than the decor and the food. It’s about entertaining with intention. While most of us won’t have an opportunity to work with Target or the Whitney on a large-scale event, we do celebrate our friends and family on a smaller scale. The truth is, what makes an event special is thinking beyond the decorating and really understanding why we are having the event in the first place. What is the “essence” of your guest of honor? Start from there and then intentionally plan your event with those traits, likes, passions in mind.
Sometimes I see a well designed, coordinated party being shared online, and while every detail is in place and it is quite lovely, there is something missing. It’s the heart and intention. I am absolutely going to make that a priority when planning my own events.
I feel grateful to have gotten to ask these questions of David. Follow his Instagram and Pinterest to see the cool things that are inspiring him. And go buy David Stark: The Art of the Party! Man, now I’m all fired up! I’ve got lots of entertaining focused posts coming up…looking forward to going a little deeper on these and letting my creativity out.
All photos courtesy of Susie Montagna for David Stark Design.