08 Feb Strength beyond Numbers: part two of a two-part design and event feature (the EYE CANDY).

Welcome back for those of you who are following up from Part 1 (If you missed it – you can read it here. I’d advise it; getting the backstory will enrich the meaning of this post).

Jack Blackier, who asked me to take over this year’s Convocation 2012 event, wanted a new look and feel. My marching order was: “Be creative.”  He didn’t want a ‘rubber chicken’ dinner. As I’ve mentioned in earlier posts, the best client anyone in my business can hope for is one who trusts you, who gives you full creative license.  Jack did exactly this.

As with all projects, success depends upon a creative team.  Aside from Jack, Kathy and Sheila at the Institute, I had to build my core team.  Ultimately, this included Lindsay Vautour of PopStudio (Graphic Design), Amy Ash, part of our team here at PUNCH Productions and Lee Shakotko of Barbara Lee Designs (again – if you didn’t read the back story of ‘when Judith met Lee’ – do so in part one here.).  Later in the process we would throw Kelly Lawson into the mix to photograph and document the event through her creative eye (and lens)


When I thought about what the history of Chartered Accountants, it was virtually impossible to avoid the theme of numbers.  To spare you the long explanation on the creative brief we’ll just jump right to it, below:

1.  Logo and tagline and overall ‘theme’ for visual  graphics “Strength Beyond Numbers”:

2.  Colour palates and accents for on site marketing collateral:  I wanted to go with cardboard browns, earthy, warm, speckled, birch trees; patterns to include damask, black linen paper and main accent color a deep red.  Continuing with the strength beyond numbers  theme we incorporated  actual years that were significant within the history of the CICA organization as well as Roman Numerals.

Above:  collateral designed by Lindsay – this was one of four ‘save the date’ invites: details included four different designs with a different date for each.  This particular one had the date 1951 on it.  Also, we went with a square shape invite to keep things fresh.


The Spring board:   The on-site design direction was to be a unique layout.  Instead of having typical round tables of 8 or 10, I envisioned long rectangular tables to create over-exaggerated communal seating. This would place up to 22 people at some tables, tables of 14 (centre of the room for the grads) and in one instance communal seating for 50 people for one large Accounting firm.

I thought:  Harvard dining hall- and truth be told –  I was inspired by Harry Potter and the Hogwarts great dining hall!

I envisioned large theatrical centrepieces staggered down the long tables with clear glass vases for birch trees, stones, pheasant feathers,  The communal tables would also feature white votives, birch stumps, green moss stones, and stainless-steel antlers.  The ceiling would be garnished with red and black lanterns.

Additional accents for the tables:

I had envisioned large damask runners to go down Centre of the long tables as well individual designed paper placements (matching design theme) to go under each place setting.  Red napkins, menus, programs, after party invites, all artfully arranged on the table.  Because we were working in a new modern complex, the chairs didn’t need any seat covers; they were quite tasteful in their simple design.  Plus, I hate spending money on chair covers if I can avoid it.

Enter Lee and Barbara from Barbara Lee Designs.  

Lee and Barbara (the mom and daughter duo) took this vision and ran with it, injecting their own creativity into the process.  They sourced beautiful materials for the long runners from Fabricville whom had to ‘loot’ each store in New Brunswick to get enough matching material for the damask and red runners for our event.  (Superb Customer Service indeed!) They gathered all the birch trees, stones, feathers, and created beautiful centrepieces all by hand.  Additionally, the flare they added to the after party and the stage decor, didn’t go unnoticed.  Beautiful birch trees with back lighting were the perfect touch for the two stages.

I particularly like the centrepieces as all the elements can be recycled into other uses.  The birch sticks, for example, have already  been repurposed into a new Yoga Studio  I am designing for a client.

Here is Kelly Lawson’s creative eye capturing the event through her lens:

Above:  The communal table set for 50 people.

Above:  A detail of one of the birch placemats.

Above: An overview of the table setting.  You’ll see how we have layered the collateral (program on the bottom, menu in the middle, and the afterparty invite on the top) inside the red napkin.  

Above: The Fredericton Convention Centre boasts a  lovely foyer upstairs, a perfect space to host a mixer prior to entering the great dining hall. Pictured is a detail of the centrepieces, and a ‘Strength Beyond Numbers’ placemat underneath. It gives the guest a sampling of what is about to be unveiled inside the dinging room.

The devil is in the details:  (Please feel free to use them for your next event!)

Small details often get overlooked in large events.  Here are a few ‘details’ I focus on to ensure the design remains cohesive:

Above:  Ensure you remember to design all details of what is seen on the table. In this instance we designed the wine menus. All that is required is asking in advance for a copy of the venue’s wine list and then simply design it into a tent card.  

Above: Drink Tickets. How often do you attend an event and are handed a dollar store roll ticket? For relatively little cost you can hand out a business size ticket to keep the theme going. I especially like this design by Lindsay as she made the wine goblet out of numbers.

Above:  Designing a menu for the table isn’t a particularly new idea.  However, why not fill the back of the menu with information on the Chef?  Often we attend dinners without giving much thought to the people who prepare it.  I say “let’s acknowledge’.  They are an integral part of the evening’s success. (Note:  ask your contact on site to send the chef bio ahead of time so you’ll have the text when it comes time to design)

Above: If you want your guests to attend other events that fall within your evening’s activities ensure that you place  individual tickets at each place setting as a reminder (branded, of course, with the same cohesive look). This particular event featured Saint John’s DJ, La Reine – Queen of Dance (Aka Laurenne Clifford) as the afterparty’s entertainment. She ruled.

Above: It is a small detail, but it’s always a good idea to reinforce reminders not to drink and drive. In the bathrooms we created simple tent cards, placed them on a cork board and left individual taxi numbers for guests to take with them.


Before we jump down into the photo gallery, I want to take this opportunity to shout out how amazing the team of the Fredericton Convention Centre was to work with.  Kara Nicholson, my ‘go-to’ contact was absolutely unwavering in her commitment to working with me on every single detail.  And her leadership showed through her entire team; everyone shared the same goal to make our event flaweless.  I assure you it is no easy feat feeding 500 in a dining hall style, working around two stages and a demanding event planner (me!).  In addition, both Alex Green and Phil Deamers from the audio visual side of things couldn’t have been more helpful and accommodating…and just a lot of fun!
Again, for anyone looking for a wedding, or any event for that matter, I can’t recommend Lee and Barbara of Barbara Lee Designs highly enough!
Also, if you are looking for a great designer for your commercial or residential projects in the greater Fredericton area, call Lee.  You won’t be disappointed.  Hard working, professional and above all, creative!
Thank you to Jack Blackier for having the faith in our team to trust we could ‘do the math’ to make his event ‘count’.
Special thanks to Alan England at in color inc for all our printing needs!


Here are my top fav pics from the event, again all photos by Kelly Lawson, to which we say many thanks:

Above: A detail of rich reds, birch and repetition. A lovely shot captured by Kelly.

Above: A view of the room before the ‘design’ crashers enter – aka, guests!

Above: I like the detail of the textures of the moss, damask runners (all made by hand by Lee and Barbara).

Above: A detail of  the layering of collateral.

Above: Laurenne CLifford, La Reine – Queen of Dance – great shot from Kelly! Laurenne really rocked the afterparty!

Above: I’m rather fond of this pic. I’m always drawn to these types of photos, that zoom in on a moment, rather than the entire event. Kelly captured number 3 table in all its glory!

Above: Amy, my hardworking colleague (and a blast to have along on these gigs) is taunting the poor guard.

Above: An overview which shows the up-lit birch trees on stage.

Above: A nice moment captured by Kelly of the early part of the pre-dinner reception. The FCC really offers a lovely venue upstairs for holding events such as these.

Above: Guests of Convocation 2012!

Overview of all pics by Kelly Lawson below:

Often people ask ‘aren’t you concerned by giving away so much detail in your posts that others will copy these ideas?”  I say – Use them! In addition to the Harry Potter inspiration I was inspired also by  a wedding of my best peeps, Stephen Kopp and Monica Adair when they were married in 2009.  They too had feathers, long communal tables and gorgeous hand made table runners.  Possibly the best looking, best curated wedding I had ever attented.  No doubt they were inspired by others.  I was inspired by them.  Rest assured, someone will be inspired by your event. And isn’t that the biggest form of flattery going?



Pin It on Pinterest


Join our mailing list to receive the latest news and promotions.

No spam. Unsubscribe at any time.

Thank you. You have been subscribed.