FLOWER POWER

Wynn Magazine - - CONTENTS - By An­drea Bennett

The­atri­cal flo­ral sculp­tures create el­e­gant—and as­ton­ish­ing—mo­ments of un­bri­dled joy in Wynn Palace.

The­atri­cal flo­ral sculp­tures create el­e­gant—and as­ton­ish­ing—mo­ments of un­bri­dled joy in Wynn Palace.

Weeks be­fore the open­ing of Wynn Palace, tech­ni­cians are test­ing a band of mer­ry­mak­ing mon­keys in a deep re­cess in the re­sort’s north atrium. Swoop­ing, danc­ing, flowerbe­decked mon­keys, hold­ing French horns, flutes, and drums, that swing on a four-pronged see­saw an­chored by golden cel­los, to be more pre­cise. Once raised to their atrium height, they’ll stand 14 feet above the floor in all their Tech­ni­color glory—straight out of a wild child­hood fan­tasy . In fact, the mon­keys are just one of eight mas­sive, flo­ral spec­ta­cles that will fill the north and south atria, chang­ing every few months. “We knew that we needed to keep peo­ple amused and sur­prised,” ex­plains artist and event plan­ner Pre­ston Bai­ley, from whose brain this bound­less joy sprang—as well as the seven other ki­netic dis­plays. En­ter the col­or­ful new carousel cur­rently tak­ing its happy turn in­side Wynn Palace’s south atrium, its 10 horses, in­clud­ing a myth­i­cal Pe­ga­sus, uni­corn, and hip­pocamp (a sea­horse from Greek mythol­ogy), fes­tooned with more than 83,000 flow­ers. In the north atrium, a Fer­ris wheel re­volves slowly, cov­ered with 102,000 flow­ers and more than 1,100 lights—each of its chairs hav­ing re­quired a metic­u­lous 250 hours of fab­ri­ca­tion. Also on the way: a wind­mill of 75,000 roses, pe­onies, daisies, and lisianthus; a jack-in-the-box that springs from his flo­ral en­case­ment to a height of 15 feet (the largest of his kind in the world); and five bal­loons—one of nearly 17 feet in height—that, de­spite their weight of two met­ric tons, seem to rise ef­fort­lessly to the ceil­ing. To fully com­pre­hend the de­tail in­volved, now imag­ine these pieces, some com­pris­ing as many as 6,000 in­di­vid­ual parts, dis­man­tled and shipped from Las Ve­gas more than 7,000 miles to their new home in Co­tai. Bai­ley, of course, is no stranger to spec­ta­cle, and his love for a good ex­trav­a­ganza is what first brought him to Wynn. “Many years ago, I cre­ated a flo­ral pea­cock sculp­ture, and then was asked to create one in Covent Gar­den in Lon­don for an art exhibit that then trav­eled to Tai­wan, Jakarta, and New York,” he ex­plains. And although Roger Thomas, Ex­ec­u­tive Vice Pres­i­dent of De­sign at Wynn De­sign & De­vel­op­ment, al­ready knew him, it wasn’t un­til Bai­ley’s wed­ding three years ago that the idea of a Wynn col­lab­o­ra­tion kicked in. “I had this idea of walk­ing out from un­der­neath this 12-foot-high mov­ing wed­ding dress de­signed by Vera Wang,” Bai­ley says. “It was held at the Em­pire State Build­ing on Valen­tine’s night at mid­night, and Roger was a guest. There was this in­cred­i­ble mys­tery and ro­mance about that night.” One part­ner­ship was sol­em­nized that evening, and the Wynn col­lab­o­ra­tion shortly there­after. Bai­ley’s first projects for Wynn were the charm­ing flo­ral carousel and bal­loons that dec­o­rate Wynn Las Ve­gas—two of the most pho­tographed land­marks in Las Ve­gas. But as hap­pens in many of Steve Wynn’s ho­tels, the two flo­ral sculp­tures were a study for the Palace’s much grander state­ments. When Wynn con­ceived Wynn Palace, Bai­ley re­calls, “He said, ‘Pre­ston, show me what you’ve got.’” From among dozens of ideas and hun­dreds and hun­dreds of re­vi­sions, the eight fab­u­lous sculp­tures will now be­gin their ro­ta­tions in the Palace. Thanks to air com­pres­sors, cool­ers, and cranes tucked in­vis­i­bly be­low each atrium, these sculp­tures will be swapped out every few months like plays at a reper­tory the­ater. Months ear­lier, Bai­ley is in the stu­dios of Forte Spe­cialty Con­trac­tors, where all the sculp­tures were fab­ri­cated. As ef­fort­less as the carous­ing mon­keys look dur­ing test­ing, the ar­ma­tures that sur­round them in Las Ve­gas tell a story of high-fly­ing feats of me­chan­i­cal, elec­tri­cal, and artis­tic en­gi­neer­ing. He in­spects the work as ar­ti­sans cover en­tire cel­los in gold leaf, ex­am­ine each in­di­vid­ual but­ton mum, and work on the me­chan­i­cal un­der­pin­nings that will send the mon­keys on their ex­u­ber­ant, tee­ter­ing dance. Forte mas­ter sculp­tor Mod Toon­rud carved the mon­keys, and you can credit Las Ve­gas cos­tume de­signer Tri­cia Ca­ma­cho for the nat­u­ral­is­tic way in which the coats seem to flip up and around. Her chal­lenge in this case: imag­ine how a cos­tume would move on a mon­key play­ing a cello. “You look at the way a cape flies up in the air and you re­al­ize that some­one be­hind that vi­sion re­ally knows fab­rics,” Bai­ley mar­vels. On that day, the fi­nal of the eight spec­ta­cles is also in pro­duc­tion: a mas­sive, 12-foot-tall Fabergé egg that slowly opens its gilded shell to re­veal a flower-cov­ered phoenix, which rises to a height of 16 feet above the floor, flap­ping its wings, while the egg slowly ro­tates. De­spite the fact that this egg has been more than 18 months in the mak­ing and has re­quired over 650 draw­ings to fi­nal­ize, Bai­ley claps his hands in de­light as if it’s the first time he’s seen such a thing. “These were crazy ideas,” he says. “A lot of what we were do­ing, we won­dered at the time if it was re­ally pos­si­ble. But I en­cour­age the im­pos­si­ble. It’s mak­ing them pos­si­ble that’s the most ex­cit­ing.”

left: Myth­i­cal an­i­mals, in­clud­ing a Pe­ga­sus, hip­pocamp, and uni­corn, dance around a 16-foot-high mu­si­cal flo­ral carousel.

It’s a good day when you’re a panda on a flo­ral Fer­ris wheel.

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