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Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Color and Design in Corporate Party Planning

Party planning on a big or small level invites a level of creativity that leaves behind the restraints of everyday design and color rules. Nowhere are you more free to pull out all the stops in visuals than with planning a party. The idea of large scale party planning seems intimidating and exciting to me. The more successful and carefree the event seems, you can bet the more planning and organizing it took to pull off.

I remember back in the tech boom hey day of the 1990's while I was living in Silicon Valley, the promise of a lavish company holiday party was assured. Didn't matter whether you worked in high tech or not, big company parties were a perk you could count on. In those days, I was working in the medical field for a small hospital. They never failed to provide a venue for dressing up and partying during the holidays. Music, dinner, dancing, music, drinks and maybe even a photo with your date. Fast forward through the last decade. Holiday parties seem to be a rare bird these days. Talking with my friends, it seems most companies or departments may throw an afternoon party at the office or a boss's home.

The Office

Maybe a lunch out with the co-workers. Today's economy has taken the punch out of the creative dreaming of wannabe party planners like me who envision creating an event where you can check out of the harsh realities of the working world for a few hours.

Luck has it that my husband works for a large company that is still able to throw a holiday bash for it's hardworking employees. This San Francisco company obviously employs or hires an agency to organize their parties. They happen to mirror my idea of what fun you can have with themes, color, design and whimsy. My husband has had no luck with detective work in finding these creative geniuses. Each year, I'm on pins and needles as to whether the tradition will continue and to see what they have dreamed up! It is definitely a guilty pleasure to enjoy such a party during terrible economic times but for one night a year, we all check out and just enjoy.......

Photo: Reklam Yonetmeni

This year's theme was loosely based on Alice in Wonderland's Mad Hatters Tea Party. I'm sadly aware that my point and click camera was no match for what I was trying to photograph. I realize the pictures are grainy so I hope you can bear with them and visualize the spaces.

After passing an Elton John impersonator at the door, we entered the enormous convention center through a long, dark hallway lined with servers bearing trays of all varieties of wine.

We emptied out into a black room where artists were busy at work painting body models. Many artists were set up and waiting to paint guests faces/arms with any number of artistic additions.

Me with my artist and work art:

Onto the larger room, we entered into an all white room with mirrors on each wall, banquets, tables and an array of different food options set up at various tents. White rose petals and candles were along all of the tables.

Giant capize shell lights-sorry for the blurriness but you get the general idea!

Some amazing floral/fruit arrangements:

Good food:

About an hour into the event, a bartender let me in on the fact that there was a larger, hidden room to be unveiled. Soon enough, a large curtain at the back of the white room opened and revealed an even bigger “red room”.

A band played at one end, while a stage was set up at the other end for headline act, Cyndy Lauper! This was the desert/dance room.

Tables of candies, chocolates and cupcakes were everywhere. On a split upper level were long tables dressed for an tea party.

Now the rose petals and candles were everywhere again, but red.

Large gold and silver chairs were at the ends of each table. Photographers were there with green screens ready to take your picture with a faux backdrop of San Francisco. I was taken by the flower arrangements and paper lanterns as well as the large red trees that adorned the space.

Even Cyndi Lauper came out, surveyed the room from stage and remarked on how cool it all looked!

I so appreciated all of the thought, hard work and creativity that went into this event. It was really hard to leave and head back into reality and the rainy night.

Happy Holidays!!

Photo: Cal KT

Friday, December 10, 2010

Have Yourself an Untraditional Little Christmas

Happy weekend! Is your tree up? I thought I'd share a few fun images with you to inspire you over the weekend. During the holidays, I always appreciate some out of the box, push the envelope thinking when it comes to trees and holiday decorating. Why not get out of the red/green rut and do something a little more original?

While I'm not a huge fan of pink, this is gorgeous!

Blueprint magazine

Simple and modern:

Apartment Therapy

Or you could go the other way and turn Christmas completely on it's head:

John Lewis, UK

Goth Christmas anyone?? A black tree:


Even the traditional green or red can be reworked:

LivingEtc. Magazine

I'm always on the lookout for exceptionally unusual public trees.....and I found them:

I saw this one the other evening in Emeryville while out at dinner, it's shopping baskets!

Oakland Tribune

My husband is an old school gamer, so this one's for him....Pacman tree in Madrid:

My favorite, a Murano glass tree in Italy:

.........And then there are trees I love for just beauty or nostalgia:

No holiday is complete for us without a trip to see the giant tree in Neiman Marcus, Union Square

.....or any tree lit in the snow.........sigh...........

......Or trees in tropical locations,

Have a great weekend and don't be afraid to challenge your holiday design ideas.

For bold, soft, traditional, or out of the box architectural color, please contact me: Marie@ColorMarie.com

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Repaint vs. Remodel

One of the last places people have money to spend during economically turbulent times is on a kitchen remodel. The price of new mid-range kitchen cabinets alone can run $10,000 to $20,000, ouch! When my husband and I wanted to refresh our time warp kitchen of many different decades, we learned how to tile and put in new Marmoleum flooring ourselves. The obvious fix for the cabinets was a fresh new coat of paint, but that project will discussed more in a future post.

A client recently recommended me to friends of hers that wanted to refresh their kitchen and entertain in it more. They also decided to go the route of new paint rather than breaking the bank for a kitchen remodel.

As with most couples, there was a little color fear with one half. The other half wanted to downplay or paint the large odd beam running through one area of the kitchen. We discussed the difficulty in painting or "killing" the large knots in the wood that would probably keep showing through the paler paint they wanted. Also, the rustic nature of the wood would probably not end up looking great when painted. The mass whiteness of the kitchen was not helping and, in fact, was making this dark beam more of a noticeable detail due to the contrast. In the before, you can see the dominating wood beam that was the subject of much discussion.

In the end we agreed that adding a bit of color and warmth would help balance out the kitchen and detract from this large beam holding court over the kitchen.

I agreed that their plan to move a wall of books and file cabinets into another room was a wonderful idea and would give them more room to entertain and enjoy their kitchen. I introduced the idea of reclaiming a window bench from storage, and painting a touch of green around the window bench wall to beckon in the lovely backyard.

The owners wanted to warm up the kitchen since it didn't get a great deal of natural light except from a small southern window in the kitchen, morning light from the patio window to the east and indirect evening light from the neighboring room. White is often chosen in the notion that it will lighten up a darker room, but it usually ends up making it appear colder and throws shadows. We decided on Potters Clay from Benjamin Moore for the backsplash, Sandy Brown from Benjamin Moore for the cabinets, and Dried Thyme from Sherwin Williams for the window bench area.

When I returned a few weeks later to see the kitchen after painting, I honestly have to say that even I was shocked to see how different the kitchen looked! It was transformed into a warm, inviting space. The power of paint wins again.

Their painter did a terrific, detailed job. He even sanded and refinished the beam and now it echoes the wood trim in parts of the kitchen without dominating the room. A win-win situation for the couple.

The bookshelves and file cabinets were banished to another room in the home to become the home office. The visual weight was lifted from the room while more space for entertaining was added.

Although one part of the couple expressed worry over the green bench, it ended up being something they both loved. They are looking to have a custom cushion made for the window seat so they can truly enjoy the tranquil view to their backyard.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Hidden Color in the London Underground

The London tube system is a huge maze of subterranean underground stations, platforms and rail-lines. Many areas are abandoned and not accessible to the public. I found myself getting constantly lost and turned around during my two visits to London and came to appreciate how massive this system is.

There was recently a surprise uncovered at the Notting Hill tube station in London. A time capsule of mid-century posters was rediscovered during modernization work on the station. In 1959, the old lifts were taken out of commission in favor of escalators. The passageways to the lifts were sealed off and the posters sat for fifty years untouched.

A look back at the cheerful pop color posters of yesterday give a great view into mid-century advertising, color and style. The public does not have access at this time to the posters or this part of the station.

The photos below are all credited to Mike Ashworth who is the Underground Design and Heritage Manager. His Flickr photos can be seen here:

The Notting Hill station opened in 1868, with the underground area opening up in 1900. Sadly, these posters will be resealed back up after modernization work if completed and left for future generations to discover.

I guess we can't tease the Brits for the stereotype of having bad teeth. Advertisers were trying!

A 1956 version of this popular story:

The graphics on this poster remind me of Disneyland, It's a Small World, colors and graphics from that era.

Can you believe that this home exhibition has been going on since 1908 and is still an annual event! Wish I could step into a time capsule and go back to take a look at the latest in mid-century homes.

A view of the posters grouped on one of the subway walls. They all date from 1956-1959.

This poster was designed by Daphne Padden who came from a family of artist/illustrators. I love that pop of blue and yellow. Very much part of the visual graphics of the 1950's.

You would have been seeing this Alec Guinness movie in the theaters in 1958

This poster was made by renown designer, Victor Galbraith, for the London Transport

This discovery makes you appreciate the world's hidden urban gems and what is still waiting to be uncovered!