Create a Theme – Set the Scene

After the invention of paper, 1800 years ago, it was possible for the first time to retain detailed information and pass on the culture of a society to following generations. Through written stories, History as we know it, began.

As continents, countries and islands were discovered through the ages, certain elements naturally found in the habitat formed and shaped cultures with unique symbols and characters, objects and events entertwined to become part of traditions and rituals, with festivals and celebrations for as long as anyone can remember! Stories, Folklore, Historical events and general information passed on from one generation to the next, were originally presented by “drawings” or “pictures” associated with a particular time or place and it is from these stories and drawings that we create themes for events and we use their origins as source for ideas.

A theme improves the overall experience of an event as it provides a unifying factor and endless possibilities of colour combinations and design elements for traditional, popular and new themes. Historical eras, countries and exotic places in the world are among the most popular themes used for parties and corporate functions. Motifs and designs with particular symbols and objects, or the combination thereof has evolved through time and is available today in a variety of serviettes, party decorations and theme accessories. Seasonal holidays and famous festivals are also used to create themes around specific times of the year and has an extensive array of colour combinations and symbolism in different parts of the world. Themes can be created by combining particular colours, flowers or natural elements such as space, fire and water or the earth.

Creating a theme for an event environment is a detailed process of colouring spaces and shaping features in seperate areas of the venue. To pull a theme together and create the atmosphere and desired mood, use the geographic region or original setting of a theme for clues on colour combinations, popular textures and patterns, background decor and authentic lighting. Generate ideas by making a list of as many words possible related to the theme, using all the individual senses for inspiration.

Guide to Authentic Theme Settings
To create a theme with unique style and flair, incorporate elements of the theme in all senses and focus the attention on a main topic to provide a unified factor for all conceptual design. Colour, texture, shape, patterns and symbols are all interconnected elements used to transport a group of people into a world of wonder through the culmination of sensations to every guest at the event.

The eyes, ears and nose are the most prominent senses involved in the original perception and experience of the overall setting in the venue and serves as a valuable indication of decor and special effects to use. Most of what we perceive is through the eyes, making visual stimulation the most important feature of any decoration. Colour in most cases has symbolic meaning within certain themes and plays a vital role in bringing all the relevant elements together. Background sound effects or relevant music to the theme is vital to enhance the sensory experience of the event. The often underestimated sense of smell becomes very obvious when it is not pleasant, making it a considerable element to use when creating a theme and can include the natural scent of hay or spices, insense, fruit or flowers.

The Entrance to the venue is one of the main areas of decoration as it welcomes guests and introduces the theme, style and mood for the event. Important decorating features include the cocktail or welcoming drinks tables, the main doorway, a photo area and in most cases a seating plan that can be incorporated to compliment the theme. Decide on the mood or atmosphere that you want to create and start by filling large spaces with coloured lights to enhance the ambience and to set the appropriate authentic background for the theme. Draw attention to focus points such as the stage, buffet and bar inside the venue by adding draping, lights and larger decor pieces with motifs, shapes and patterns related to the theme as detail. All areas of Eat, Drink and be Merry are important decor areas and should be just as appealing to the eye as to the tastebuds and the feeling to dance where there is music! Every focus point becomes a full sensory experience where entertainment, good food and awesome people come together.

The setting and colours used for tables and chairs provide the framework by which everything is organized inside the venue. Looking from a bird’s view, the tables and chairs cover a large area and therefor it is important to cover or use them in line with your theme. They become a decorating element in itself and extravagant patterns and colour effects can be very effective. The table is the primary focus point in any event as it brings every individual guest closer to the theme. Natural flora found in any form from the authentic setting forms a good base to start any centerpiece with, whether it be cacti, palm trees or something resembling a papyrus plant. Incorporating various textures to the table will amplify the atmosphere with more natural shadows. The motif is the visual representation of the theme, created by the use of objects or symbols from the authentic setting and can be used for all decorations and stationary including table numbers and menus, gifts, glass and serviette decorations with patterns and shapes related to the theme. It is the little things that means the most. The attention to detail at each individual table where most of the time is spent, is most important to the event designer.

Whether for a few hours at a corporate function, or for a brief few moments at an exhibition stand, always aim to create great event experiences through the implementation of unique and original designs that tantalize each of the five senses. It is the personal touch and sensory connections you create to evoke good feelings, a link and appeal to the inner spirit that people share when gathered for any reason, that expresses who we are, where we come from and what we can achieve.