What party trends will be #SEEN in 2019?

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette - - Style & Seen - On

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.


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/.

Mar­tin Potoczny

Shari Zatman

Susie Perelman

Theresa Kauf­man

Sarah Tafel

Thomas Cabral, left, and Nathan McCarthy

Eve­lyn Castillo

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