4 unconventional themes to reinvent your next event

Event organisers share their tips from events as Netflix’s pop culture party to MCI’s wanderlust-inspired event

ASIA - In this third of a four part series, we spotlight unique themes to dress up your event experience. We spoke to event organisers who have staged events from Netflix's iconic pop culture party to a glamorous tropical escape in Bali and a thrilling murder mystery event.

In case you missed it, here are parts one and two of the series; the final instalment can be found here.

Bali sets the stage for tropical glamour

Planner: Nirmala Trisna, co-founder, Kitasatubali
Contact: marketing@kitasatubali.com 
Venue: Alila Seminyak, Bali, Indonesia

Luxury doesn't always have to be indoors; understanding both the client's expectations and being one step ahead of the practical limitations of the event space is key.

What was the aim of the event?
Back in June 2018, Alila Seminyak approached us about a 500-pax launch party for Further East, a luxury trade show by Beyond Luxury Media. In terms of theme, Further East is a luxury hospitality brand, but our client Alila Seminyak wanted the tropical nature of Bali and the Balinese culture to come through. So we settled on the theme of 'Tropical Glamour'.

How did you execute it? 
We studied past events by Beyond Luxury Media and Alila Seminyak to make sure that the concept aligned with both brands. After that, we drew out the proposal, created 3D video renders to show how each element would look. We hired local Balinese models and musicians as well. And to keep up with the luxury, glamour theme, we updated their costumes to give it a more contemporary twist. We also worked with the dancers to mix traditional dances with a modern feel. To create the warm ambience, we also had projection mapping on the walls.

What were the challenges and how did you overcome them? 
The event was in November, which is the wet season here in Bali. We initially wanted tents for the bar and restaurant extensions, where guests would party and network. But we realised that the colour of the tent clashed with the look of Alila Seminyak. If you see the scenery there, the colours have an earthy tone, so we wanted it to look more environmentally friendly. We had to find a contractor who could build these beautiful bamboo structures. The setup cost was higher and it was more labour intensive, and every element, from the shelter to the chandeliers, had to be naturalistic. But it was well worth the effort.

Netflix plays up pop culture

Planner: Nick Oxborrow, director, Fabulation Singapore
Contact: nick@fabulation.com.sg 
Venue: COMO Dempsey, Singapore

Netflix's pop culture-themed event featured a sweets display inspired by its hit TV show, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. (Fabulation Singapore)

What was the aim of the event?
We threw Netflix's employees and guests a party in celebration of its 100 millionth user. The party brought to life iconic elements of Netflix's TV shows in an elaborate event that took over the whole of Como Dempsey (including a hired actor who played a butler, a regal nod to The Crown).

How did you execute it?
We created three bespoke areas. In one area, we re-created an Asian street-food market with paper lanterns strung up between individual stalls that served dishes like chendol and satay.
Another section, inspired by New York, featured trendy elements like an LED dance floor, hanging glass lights and retro leather couches with plush red cushions. We set up a "sweets shop" in honour of one of Netflix's TV shows, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.

The last corner was designed to resemble a South American drug den, modelled after TV series, Narcos. We had the cartel organisation's chart up on a wall, old-fashioned telephones, as well as airbrush and henna tattoo stations.

What were the challenges and how did you overcome them?
It was a very, very big production. The restaurant had to move out all its existing furniture before we could start moving in. The floor tiles and hexagon lights were the only elements belonging to the venue - everything else from the red drapery to furniture to lights was brought in.

Power was another issue, especially since some buildings in Dempsey don't always come with huge power capability. We couldn't put a generator outside at the carpark, so we had to turn off quite a few elements in the kitchen.

Solving murder mysteries in Japan

Planner: Todd Rice, international director, THEY improv
Contact: todd@theyimprovasia.com 
Venue: Various cities, Japan

Murder mystery parties are a fun and really easy way to involve guests quickly while still putting on a great show.

What was the aim of the event?
Our private events require a measure of confidentiality, but I can say that in general the goals are to bond the audience through teambuilding, to get them laughing and working together.

How did you execute it?
We do a lot of American-based 1920s mysteries, murders of millionaires, and especially mobsters. With the lattermost, we typically adapt to the location - so for Japan we had for instance, the murder of a developer trying to build condos on Mt. Fuji, just one of the many ideas which are taken with the amusement that they are intended. From there, we execute the 'Straight Murder'; it's where arranged characters interact with the audience to develop tensions that will eventually lead to a murder. A comedic investigation ensues, with the audience helping us determine the culprit.

Something with more interaction is the 'Cambridge Solution', which usually sees members of our client's senior management doubling as characters. They go from table to table allowing people to question them about the crime, then we reward the audience for their investigative work.

What were the challenges and how did you overcome them?
It could be servers not knowing how to interact with our audience, so we overcome it by performing for the venue staff, as well. We also get these staff members laughing and more comfortable, so in turn, this makes them more amenable to our needs and to help us deliver a great show.

MCI turns on the wanderlust

Planner: Olinto Oliveira, Cristie Chan, Marco Sabbatini, MCI Group Hong Kong & Macau
Contact: macau@mci-group.com 
Venue: An undisclosed private mansion, Taipa, Macau

To impress guests who are either industry experts or have seen multiple events formats, adding the element of surprise is a great way to build hype.

What was the aim of the event?
To present MCI Hong Kong & Macau as a creative event company able to plan and deliver uncommon and surprising event experiences.

How did you execute it?
The event was presented as a journey to an unknown destination. Guests arrived to tropical forest sounds, marine smells and dancers, where the three-hour cocktail party continued to surprise with a phoenix hologram, fire performance under the rain, live calligraphy and traditional tea ceremony. The idea was to continue the extraordinary journey and make people feel far from Macau.

What were the challenges and how did you overcome them?
We invited guests mainly from the MICE or entertainment industry in Macau and Hong Kong, who are used to seeing multiple event formats and already know what events spaces Macau has to offer. Choosing an offsite, unique venue, and providing private transportation to guests in order to preserve its secret location during the invitation process was a key strategy to build expectations. We also had to think of creative solutions for lighting and audio, and use wireless technologies since a private venue cannot provide services commonly found in event venues.


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