REAL STORIES: A Zen-inspired Birthday Celebration at The Barnes

January 18, 2013 ,
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Evantine Barnes Foundation Events Philadephia Venues

What DO you do when you’re celebrating your 80th birthday? Duh, you throw a fabulous party at one of Philadelphia’s most prestigious museums! Just this past weekend, in the midst of producing several events on the same night, we created a one-of-a-kind birthday celebration at The Barnes Foundation.  

The Barnes Foundation Museum Impressionist and Post Impressionist

As we always do, we design an event from the outside in, and this special birthday party was no exception. The exterior of The Barnes is already spectacular, with serene reflecting pools and dramatic architecture, but we subtly highlighted the facade with several battery-powered LED lights. We also tucked faux candles in round Asian-inspired white wax lanterns into the reflecting pool in front of the glass looking into the light court.  Additional lanterns were placed inside the entrance to the museum specifically to mesh the outdoors with the indoor environment. Once inside, we created a minimalist party design inspired by the client’s own love for modern design, as well as the simple beauty of the venue.

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As guests entered the museum they were greeted by a long escort table that we dressed with a series of wooden candle holders with frosted glass and hundreds of faux square votive candles. Three tall glass vases were filled with water holding stems of white Calla Lilies and flowering branches for a dramatic-yet-clean design statement.

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This sneak peek video from our friends at Janis Productions shows the place card table design, as well as the two long feast tables we created for the dinner. Together with 150 of their closest friends, our clients were seated at long dinner tables in Annenberg Court. Running the length of the two tables, we placed a series of long water-filled “reflecting pools” in which we placed black river rock, purple Lotus flowers and fragrant white Gardenias. Flowering Quince branches were placed in the water in a horizontal design, laying over the water pools. The client’s collection of monk sculptures and lava rock vases were provided for our use in the centerpiece design scheme. Our frosted LED battery votive candles and iron mesh lanterns were added for that always-desired soft glow of candlelight. In fact, we used 1,075 candles in the whole party design!

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The simpler the design, the more complicated they get! All of the minimalist details in the party design were incredible and all were carefully woven into an ambitious timeline! Including, our personal favorite, the client’s personal chef made 150 glasses out of spun sugar into which the catering staff poured a delicious Madeira, vintage 1933!  As Creative Director, Brian Kappra, always says: “If you live long enough, you see just about everything.”

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{Above}  An interesting angle showing a portion of the table design along with our light up tribute to the guest of honor.

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And, no birthday party is complete without an amazing orchestra!  Grammy award winning conductor Peter Nero and The Philly Chamber Orchestra provided an evening of lively, elegant entertainment on our custom-built stage.

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From every possible angle, this was a celebration like no other. Happy Birthday Norman!