Setting the Table: How Details Make Your Corporate Event

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Setting the Table: How Details Make Your Corporate Event

Table setting.

Table setting.

How do you design an event for people used to having the “best of the best?” Who’ve seen it all, done it all? Recently, we faced just this challenge. And we knew we weren’t going to bowl over this sophisticated guest list with “wow” stuff.

Fortunately, that wasn’t our goal.

Instead, we wanted to create an environment that facilitated discussions. If the guests could feel like they were in someone’s home, they would be able to relax and have meaningful peer-to-peer discussions.

We also wanted them to feel a sense of place – in this case, Kiawah Island, South Carolina. For this audience, we needed to strike a balance of comfort, while providing the level of food, wine and décor they were accustomed to in their everyday lives.

And then we met the Charleston Silver Lady.

We uncovered The Charleston Silver Lady while researching the history and cultural nuances of Southern hospitality.  She is a specialist in antique silver and gives lectures all across the south using her collection as “markers in time” to illustrate the South’s storied connection to the table.  She allowed us to look at her collection, and pick and choose historic silver for the event. It was all local, gorgeous, and gave the tables a residential feel.

Thanks to her, each table had a different historical vessel from the Charleston area. We didn’t place signage explaining the items, but they were obviously unique, rare and sparked conversation. The guests noticed. There was a buzz.

These elegant personal effects were one way to bring a sophisticated yet comfortable feel to the event, allowing for the table design to feel more like dining in a private home.

Wilsonwest Creative Designer Ken Swyt offers up his design tips for creating beautiful dining environments that support conversation:

  1. Scale, specifically, the size and scale of tables. You don’t want guests to feel they’re too distant from others across the table. Create more intimate, user friendly, non-intimidating spaces that feel more like home.
  2. Lighting. Dim lighting can soften a room, but you don’t want things to be too dimly lit. Guests should be able to comfortably see each other
  3. The big picture. Details are important, but they have to work with the larger components of your space, such as furnishings, lighting, and the general ambiance.
  4. Think outside the box. Consider untraditional sources. Don’t be afraid to go untraditional.
  5. Put yourself in the seat of the guest. Remember, it’s not your party. It’s for your guests.

A good table strips away things that may prevent guests from interacting. It creates an environment where people can lean back and relax and work in concert with each other.

In our next blog, we will discuss how a well-chosen menu can carry the sense of place and atmosphere forward.

Mary Sullivan is the Executive Producer at Wilsonwest and Ken Swyt is the Creative Director.

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