What party trends will be #SEEN in 2019?
What are the hot trends at events and parties coming around Pittsburgh in 2019? In emailed responses, here are what local event industry professionals say they are seeing:
THERESA KAUFMAN For the last 13 years, Ms. Kaufman has specialized in nonprofit and corporate events, galas, golf outings, conferences, meetings and receptions.
What new trends are you looking forward to? LED technology pricing is settling down, so video walls are becoming more the standard for meetings and events instead of largescreen projection. It’s sharper and more versatile.
Vegan offerings were once very limited and “thrown in” to make sure you had every guest’s needs covered. Today you’re seeing so much more variety and flavors offered for vegan-friendly cuisine. Caterers, restaurants and venues are facing challenges in two areas: Due to some tariffs we’ll see a rise in cost of imported foods. Although many chefs already embrace a “seasonal” menu, you’ll see more of this and a paring down of offerings due to cost. The second challenge is a staffing shortage. Everything I’m hearing and reading tells me there’s a staffing shortage. Sourcing and retaining great food service staff has become top of mind for those in the food industry. With these two things in mind, look for a rise in food pricing and service.
Your favorite new venues or hot spots? I’m hearing good things about Nova Place [on the North Side] as a new event space. I’m also glad to hear about the August Wilson Cultural Center renovations. There’s a great team at the Westin Convention Center, and Heinz Field has always been a favorite.
What makes a great party? Do things that make guests feel welcome and important, like being greeted with a glass of wine or sparkling water as they enter the room. If there’s one thing that doesn’t cost anything and makes a huge impact: Make sure your event runs on time.
Company: President, Theresa Kaufman Events, and partner, principal planner, Eventful Event Producers. New website coming soon for www.TheresaKaufmanEvents.com; Eventful Event Producers, www.Eventfulpittsburgh.com.
Ms. Castillo works primarily with small nonprofit organizations and has been producing and planning galas, festivals and medical education conferences for more than 10 years.
What new trends are you looking forward to? I think that attendees at events will notice an increase in storytelling and personal stories about nonprofit organizations and, more importantly, the people that they serve. In tandem, fund-a-cause appeals during events will find a new home as supporters connect on a personal level. Instagram and Instagram TV use will increase as organizations, individuals and stakeholders will capture unique images and special moments and post to social media. Sustainability will play a larger part in event planning. For smaller nonprofits, the ability to reuse/reimagine existing items will play a huge part in bringing down event production costs. Decreasing food waste at events is also going to be a larger part of event planning; partnering with 412 Food Rescue and other groups will allow planners, caterers, venues to create a total plan that will increase event sustainability and decrease waste.
What trends do you hope will disappear this year? Giving a takeaway gift from an event, unless you can actually use it.
What makes a great party? A great party creates a smile when your guest arrives at the event; having those elements that engage your guests right when they walk in, and then those little surprises to entice them right around the corner. Events don’t have to progress at a breakneck speed to be great. It’s always nice to have a little pause so that your guests are able to catch their breath, appreciate the moment before moving onto another part of the evening.
Company: Sterling Events, www.sterlingeventspgh.com.
MARTIN POTOCZNY Founder + CEO of LUXE Creative, a Pittsburgh-based design studio. Mr. Potoczny is an entrepreneur and pioneering creative director working in live music production and luxury events for more than 10 years.
What new trends are you looking forward to? While we aren’t big into trends, we love experimenting with new technology to enhance the guest experience. We try to incorporate anything and everything that will wow our guests like indoor drone light shows, projection mapping and indoor pyrotechnics to name a few. There has never been a better time to blend traditional design elements with advanced show technology.
Your favorite new venues or hot spots? In September 2018, I produced the Allegheny Health Network: A Night Under the Stars Gala on the field of PNC Park. It was a phenomenal venue for the project and the event staff, led by Ann, were exceptional to say the least.
What makes a great party? Energy, energy, energy! And the people, of course!
Company: LUXE Creative, LUXECompanies.com.
NATHAN McCARTNEY AND THOMAS CABRAL
The two men started HENS AND CHICKS after years of working in the fashion, event and floral industries in New York City and Pittsburgh. They live in Churchill with their cats Scribbles and Jemimah.
What new trends are you looking forward to? It would be great to see a streamlining of the entire event experience including the flow and the structure. As that relates to floral and decor, less complication is always better. If the event features the color blue, then commit to blue. Make blue overwhelming, toe the line of “too much.” Go all out for blue floral, blue vases, blue linens, blue flatware etc. If the event is more conceptual, take that concept, boil it down to its nuts and bolts, and then repeat those nuts and bolts until the point of redundancy. Make your event intentions known from the get-go.
What trends do you hope will disappear this year? Almost all of them! Instagram and Pinterest are great tools to communicate ideas visually, but can cause a major identity crisis by oversaturating users with trends. Liking the visual of something and wanting it for your event in six months to a year are two entirely different things. For instance, certain flowers like antherium and pampas grass, are styled to effortlessly communicate “cool, edgy and carefree.” But they are simultaneously advertised as “I get it. I follow the cool kids on Instagram.” The trend of “faux effortlessness,” which can actually take a staggering amount of effort, can go away. Let’s bring back a return to polished, concise and a more realized statement.
Your favorite new venues or hot spots? It is always fun exploring a new venue, but we love reimagining an existing venue even more. We are looking forward to some of the new hotels opening this year like TRYP in Lawrenceville and the Oaklander in Oakland. We have a lot of exciting projects happening in tents this year.
Company: HENS AND CHICKS, www.hensandchicksdesign.com.
Ms. Zatman, who has worked in the event industry for nearly 20 years, is owner and principal event planner and designer of Perfectly Planned by Shari. She and Ms. Kaufman are partners for Eventful Event Producers. Ms. Zatman focuses on custom-styled and expertly designed, detailed special events.
What new trends are you looking forward to? Biggest trend is custom branding on everything. Regardless of the type of event, clients want custom logos and personal branding on their event. This includes a lot of printed graphics on dance floors, bars, stage facades and backdrops. Something that is exciting to see is custom-branded designs literally the beverages — not the glasses — but the beverages themselves.
Anything virtual reality driven is BIG right now.
For weddings, I am seeing less focus on the cake and some have not been doing a cake at all. “Cookie cutter” and matching centerpieces and table decor are going away. More of a focus is on doing “designed eclectic” and also using some big statement decor pieces to enhance spaces and not necessarily keeping all of the focus on the table centerpieces.
What makes a great party? One hundred percent it comes down to the overall experience. There are a lot of details going into all parties, but in the end the guest has to feel it was a great experience for them. Most people don’t realize the level of detail and attention that needs to be paid to everything in order to create a perfect guest experience. It is also about making the event feel different from other events. Each event should feel unique and not like a replica of an event they just attended last week.
Companies: Perfectly Planned by Shari, www.perfectlyplannedbyshari.com; Eventful Event Producers.
Owner of Mosaic Inc., a specialty linens company she opened almost 18 years ago.
What new trends are you looking forward to? The hottest trend right now is making guest experiences interactive. Because we live in a world “on demand,” guests also like to have “real experiences, but not necessarily in real time.” They want to view Instagram stories to see what is going on and relive things through social media and photos from guests, on their own time. So how do you make interactive experiences? Here are a few: Selfie walls, Linens that encourage engagement like Mosaic’s interactive sequins or soft velvets that warrant touch, photo technology like facial recognition. Once you submit your email and take one photo, whenever more photos of you are taken they automatically get emailed to you. Robots that mix you a drink in 2 minutes or provide a pizza from a vending machine with 100 options of toppings. Marijuana cocktails and desserts in certain states are all the rage.
Your favorite new venues or hot spots? Slate, Energy Innovation Center, Flashlight Factory.
Company: Mosaic Inc., partymosaic.com.
Director of events and development at Black Radish Kitchen, a farm to face that specializes in all shapes and sizes of events.
What new trends are you looking forward to? The growth of local farms over the past 10 years and therefore increased variety in vegetable harvests has chefs all aflutter. Black Radish Kitchen develops each menu based on what is received from the farms each week and new product means new menu items. Clients have been increasingly interested in locally sourced produce and using as many local products and services as possible in their personal lives.
Your favorite new venues or hot spots? Kingfly Spirits will be opening in the Strip District in February. Beautifully renovated, Kingfly boasts a distillery with tasting hours, substantial event space and some stellar programming.
Another truly new and unique space is Magarac [on the edge of Bloomfield and Lawrenceville]. While it is a showroom for the works of John Walter of Iron Eden, it is also perfect to hold smaller dinners, happy hours and cocktail receptions. Everything in the space is one-of-akind.
What makes a great party? Knowing about the client as well their guests is key to creating a personalized event that everyone will enjoy. The goal is to make everything feel and look effortless.
People are the most important ingredient in a party. Also Champagne.
Company: Black Radish Kitchen, https://blackradishkitchen.com/.
Thomas Cabral, left, and Nathan McCarthy