No matter the type of event, decor theme or setting, an event's design makes the difference between magical and mediocre, professional and amateur. Event design is essential for a successful event – whether it be a wedding, a corporate event, fundraising gala or a private party. The responsibility of creating an event's ambiance rests on the shoulders of the designer.
What Exactly Do Event Designers Do?
The responsibilities associated with event design jobs often get confused with those of an event planner. The two, however, are very different. An event planner is responsible for the logistics of an event (arrangements with vendors, venues and schedules). An event designer is responsible for creating the look, feel and ambiance of the evening by focusing on all the event's details to create an overall style or brand for the event.
Designers work with clients to determine a collaborative vision. The event stylist then makes the idea a reality. A designer transforms a space into a memorable event. From selecting a color palette, lighting design, place cards and centerpieces to designating table arrangements, dance floors and podiums, a designer ensures every detail of an event comes together seamlessly.
What Qualities and Skills Does an Event Stylist Need?
Designers come from all different backgrounds. Some event stylists first discover their passion for design while decorating for the holidays. Some designers start out by planning events for the companies where they currently work. Others who become designers get their start by helping their friends or family members plan events like baby showers, bar mitzvahs and weddings. No matter how an event stylist discovers his or her passion for design, most designers share a few common qualities – even before they turn professional.
Creativity and Imagination
All designers share a passion for creation and have the ability to imagine things that do not yet exist. A good designer can take a plain, old, tired ballroom or backyard and completely transform it to create a space that will perfectly accommodate any event. This sometimes means finding imaginative uses for visually pleasing objects, creating unique floral arrangements or making decorations by hand. A skilled designer must possess the ability to think outside the box.
An Artistic Eye
In addition to being creative, a designer must be able to create designs which are pleasing to the eye. This includes having the ability to assemble beautiful, fun or unexpected color palettes, but also to create decor that will highlight the available event space. In other words, a designer must be able to work through challenges and within boundaries and still put together flawless parties.
Although designers get to design events, they make money by styling events on behalf of their clients. This means that a good designer must be able to achieve the designs their clients desire. To do this, a stylist must have strong communications skills to listen to their clients' preferences, ask the right questions to determine a vision for the event and also to stay in contact with their clients throughout the process to keep abreast of changes and keep the client well informed regarding the event's progress. A great stylist should also be comfortable and flexible enough to allow their client to be involved with the process as much or as little as he or she desires. This might mean running lots of decisions by a client or never running a single decision by the client.
Work within a Budget
With a limitless budget, a designer could style a child's birthday party like a royal wedding. But most clients have strict budgetary limitations. A designer must always ask for a budget, respect the client's budget and be realistic with the client about the type of event their design budget can actually buy.
Every designer – whether event, interior or fashion – has their own unique sense of style, and this personal taste is always apparent in a designer's finished products. But designers should strive to have as much flexibility in their event styling abilities as possible. So, although one designer's idea of a beautiful rustic wedding will differ from another's, all designers should be able to pull off a rustic wedding, if it's what the client desires.
Perhaps this goes without saying, but a designer should have a good sense of style and keep up with the current trends in fashion, interior design, decorating and event styling. Unless a client requests an event with a retro theme, then using contemporary styles, colors and details in an event's design should be standard.
In any business, success often depends on who you know – not what you know. If a designer does not begin designing events for a company where they already work, then it is essential that the individual have a large network of friends and family and exceptional networking skills to bring in a client base and build up a portfolio of successful event designs. Use social media, build a website and attend wedding fairs to get your name out there, draw in clients and begin earning referrals.
How to Start and Grow Your Event Designer Career
Some designers wish to create small, private parties, to style events that will entertain corporations or those aimed to raise money for nonprofits. Other designers aspire to loftier goals, like styling the type of upscale, regal events which Preston Bailey creates – events that overtake entire concert halls and surreal bubble tents in the desert with bold colors and icy chandeliers. An event designer salary can vary greatly depending on clients, event size and the designer's portfolio.
No matter the size of events you hope to design, you can successfully become a designer and grow your business to any size with the right training, professional network and motivation.
Get Certified on Your Own Time with Event Design Courses
Students of the Institute of Wedding & Event Design (IWED) can obtain certifications in event, wedding and floral design on their own time. With both workshop-style event design classes and fully online courses, IWED students all over the world have the opportunity to learn the skills necessary for a career in design while surrounded by a team of experienced industry professionals.
With certification from our fully accredited design courses, our students not only gain invaluable information, skills, tools and resources, but also the credibility to obtain top-level employment and a long list of preferred clients. For more information about IWED classes and certifications, we invite you to schedule an enrolment consultation today.