Reduce and reuse for design drama

by Jessica Charest
Jan 28, 2014

Special event designer Jessica Charest of the Mohegan Sun gives tips on finding event design inspiration even when budgets are tight and require reuse of items.

Working as an event professional, I have always found myself with not enough time and not enough money for an event. I am constantly in that weird place of, “Do I buy more or do I reuse what I have?” In most cases the answer, is “Reuse what I have.”

The challenges that we face as designers include the ability to think outside the box. By using an item from a previous event (if you are lucky enough to not have the item ruined or stolen), you can stay within your budget and make modifications to make the upcoming event fresh and new.

Most recently I found myself with a low budget for a New Year’s 2014 VIP lounge and was only able to rent furniture and drape the room with rental fabrics. As good as that looked on its own, it needed … more. I searched old event photos and came across those trendy fillable glass balls that I had used on “Mystical Waters” themed event, and my mind started racing with ideas. I ended up suspending the balls from the existing light soffits in the VIP room and filled them with sparkly gold foliage and nature inspired items. They looked fantastic and really transformed the room into something special. 

What really helped me was stepping away from my computer and the Internet and physically walking around in stores. Yes, a picture is worth a thousand words, but there is nothing like touching and seeing something in real life to get inspired. I would have never found those glistening gold fillers had I not physically been there.            

One of my most reused items is white poly silk fabric. Talk about a blank palette! I can’t even count the amount of times I have used this same fabric in multiple locations and spaces and created different looks.

Don’t limit yourself to “just white"--throw some color on it or add a gobo to make a “new” pattern on the fabric. The possibilities are endless, and as designers, this is supposed to be the fun part! Embrace it! Money is tighter these days, and showing a little resourcefulness will not only give you satisfaction, it will put some ease on that scary budget number.

The moral of the story is that reusing something doesn’t have to mean you are re-creating something that has already been done.  Even if it is a more unique item, like the glass balls, it is all in how you use them. Don’t limit yourself with current trends. Create your own trend.  

About the author

Jessica Charest has been in the events and entertainment industry for the past ten years and currently works as event designer at Mohegan Sun Resort and Casino in Connecticut. She graduated in 2005 with a BA in Technical Theatre and Design from Keene State College.  Jessica is always on the upswing of event trends and brings a certain funky sophistication to the table. She prides herself on focusing in on the detail and creating a new world. When Jessica is not working she enjoys traveling and photography. You can check out Jessica’s work at www.coroflot.com/jessicacharest.

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