Trends define the era we live in – fast moving and constantly evolving. Australia’s event industry observes trends across every sector, balancing on an axis of changing food, interior design and technology inspirations. From local micro-fads to global influences, it is important as Event Managers we keep a finger on the pulse of cultural changes to deliver engaging and profitable events.
Recently, I attended the Meetings and Events Australia’s (MEA) professional development session focused on Event Trends and was lucky enough to sit with the leading movers and shakers in the industry. Sharing their insights were Craig Durston, General Manager of Pearl Catering with what’s hot in the kitchen; Andrew Briggs, Senior Creative Stylist at Harry the Hirer with the latest trends in styling and design; and Haycom’s National Sales Manager, Lizzi Lovegrove delivered the tech insights.
So, what are the trends defining events across the next 12 months?
Trends come and go but food is forever
No longer are guests happy with the same tried and tested canapes. Catering in 2017 is all about blurring the line between restaurant cuisine and traditional event catering. Today’s leading chefs are focused on creating a culinary experience that brings fine dining to events.
To complement this, the aesthetics of each dish are becoming more extravagant and interactive. Event Managers are trialling new ways to immerse guests in the culinary experience, adding intriguing elements to create unforgettable events. Desserts served as the waitstaff simultaneously pour melted chocolate on the dish to reveal hidden ice-cream, and cocktail mixing theatrics to dazzle and impress are just two ways food and beverage continues to transform the event experience.
Caterers are aware that today’s delegates are nutritionally savvy and interested in where the produce was sourced, the ethics of its supply chain, and what cooking techniques are used. Locally sourced produce continues to give rise to seasonal menus, as chefs return to the basics and feature fresh and in season produce.
Gluten free and vegetarian meals are no longer alternatives, they’re standard!
Mix and match for bold style
Event styling is integral to creating the ‘wow’ factor that captures the eyes and imaginations of guests as they enter a venue. It’s all about creating an inviting space and utilising furniture, colours and accessories to create an experience to match your event brief.
Andrew Briggs, Senior Creative Stylist at Harry the Hirer has worked on some of the most iconic styling gigs in Australia, including the much-loved Myer Animated Christmas Windows and multiple marquees in the famous Birdcage for the Melbourne Cup Carnival. His advice: Think bold velvet lounges, striking marble look tables and parquetry wood work – it’s all about patterns and textures. The different elements work together to create a dramatic effect, or to add a luxurious feel to a space. Alternatively, juxtapose stark black and white to create a vivid look in any room – mix and match matte black furniture in a white room, or vice versa.
AV to light up your event
Huge developments in LED light and projection mapping make up two of the greatest components disrupting event AV at the moment, according to Lizzi Lovegrove from Haycom.
LED lighting is the trend that just keeps…trending. Event managers and AV companies continue to find new and interesting ways to use LED to transform venues across the country. The energy efficient lights offer a cosmic array of colours that can match any theme, venue or purpose.
Recently at the Meetings 2017 Conference in New Zealand, hexagon LED screens were featured to integrate design elements of the conference brand and define stage space at front of the room.
One of the most innovative ways in which I’ve seen the event industry utilise lighting for years, is using it to define and create space. The image below by Haycom, demonstrates how simple lights can create an intimate setting within a larger, and slightly more unorthodox, venue.
Table projection mapping has tested the boundaries of event creativity and found a new way to truly transform the guest experience. Projection mapping allows storytelling to go beyond the event theme, speakers and entertainment – with specially designed graphics projected on the table around the plates and glassware. Check out this table projection mapping video by Belgian company, Skullmapping: Le Petit Chef – Dessert.
Trends come and go, however the continual evolution of creative and technological innovations within the event industry make me believe many of the trends are becoming classics – they’re here to stay, grow and be explored for many events to come.