We had the good fortune of connecting with Samantha Sackler and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Samantha, why did you decide to pursue a creative path?
love the event industry on so many levels. It has so many layers of creativity. When I first got started in the business which was over 20 years ago, shockingly, I could see the incredible way this industry would evolve. It is amazing to see the growth, but what is most impressive is the level of style and creativity that is given to all the events that take place all over the world. The sky is the limit and I have seen and done things that I never thought possible. When I talk about layers I am referring to the many different vendors that are involved in the creation of an event and how they seamlessly come together to make one amazing story. Events are not just about a celebration anymore. Events are more branded and tell a story about the couple getting married, the corporation acknowledging their sales teams or a non-profit articulating their message. What we do now in the event world is so much more than just a linen and table with a chair. It is an experience and one that most people if done right, will remember forever.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I have spent 23 years in the event industry and 14 years in the event furniture rental world and seeing the industry evolve into what it is today has been truly amazing. Both of my companies, THE FIRM EVENT DESIGN and DESIGNER8* Event Furniture Rental, have been part of the most incredible events including movie premieres, live show red carpets, interactive red carpets as well as incredible corporate and social events. We constantly strive to be ahead of the trends and provide trendsetting environments and experiences for our clients – especially when we convert raw spaces and turn them into WOW moments for our clients. From the outrageously styled movie premiere after parties, to the interactive and eye-catching design of our red carpets, to the best press photo ops, to creative out-of-the-box corporate events it is never the same and we always aim to give our clients an experience they will never forget. A few recent events we designed and produced last year include: CASAMIGOS HALLOWEEN PARTY – PRIVATE ESTATE, BEVERLY HILLS Guests were greeted by a custom Casamigos branded entrance with a “Psychedelic Spirits” theme and a larger than life psychedelic pumpkin patch with hundreds of hand painted neon pumpkins mixed with haze and black lights. The patch was also home to the iconic Casamigos bell shot experience, this year with a custom graffiti designed backdrop with Casamigos founders George Clooney, Rande Gerber and Mike Meldman. The custom graffiti continued throughout the home and into the backyard. The backyard was an explosive mix of psychedelic themed colors including an incredible custom designed kinetic lighting feature suspended 17’ over the diamond mirrored main bar. A Casamigos branded psychedelic style swing photo moment was a huge hit with slow motion and still shots for everyone to social share. ACM AWARDS – MGM GRAND, LAS VEGAS We loved collaborating with the ACMs on this incredible carpet for the 54th ACM Awards yesterday at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. The custom created carpet spanned more than 400 feet with a stunning linear design including 3D neon elements, gorgeous gray carpet, live streaming People magazine platform, sponsored “party on the carpet”, and an ACM branded fan pit. The carpet kicked off an amazing evening celebrating country’s biggest stars. COMPASS RETREAT – MANA WYNWOOD, MIAMI The entrance included incredible overlapping light beam and haze tunnel entrance that also doubled as an amazing photo moment upon arrival. The rest of the warehouse style venue was completed transformed into a 90s themed Miami nightclub with custom elements throughout including 4 custom designed 20×30 neon cabanas, an LED lined DJ booth with side dance platforms, dozens of oversized palm trees painted to match the evening’s color palette, hand painted graffiti panels on perimeter walls, lucite cocktail tables with neon rods and a show-stopping custom-built neon rod chandelier that hung over the center bar. Guests were treated to an eclectic mix of culinary delights, delicious Miami themed signature cocktails and an elaborate dessert display complete with a hand-spun nitrogen ice cream station. The evening also featured stylish lounge furniture with monochromatic accents by DESIGNER8* as well as Music by The Misshapes. FYC EVENT – GREEK THEATRE, LOS ANGELES We partnered with our friends at National Geographic for this year’s Emmy contender showcase at the iconic Greek Theatre in Los Angeles. The show featured exclusive footage, talent appearances and a spectacular live orchestra performance and was technically directed by THE FIRM. In addition, we created custom activations for each show including a climbing wall for Free Solo, a cryo station and snow cones for Life Below Zero, Henna artists for The Story of God, immersive experience for The Flood, an old school arcade for Valley of the Boom, a live puppy park and animal themed face painting for Hostile Planet and a conductor led sound experience for The Hot Zone. Guests were also treated to VR experiences and family style BBQ cuisine throughout. NICKELODEON BOOTH AT VIDCON – ANAHEIM CONVENTION CENTER, ANAHEIM The impressive booth spans over 11,000 square feet and houses custom activations for iconic Nickelodeon properties including All That, Blue’s Clues, Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader and an incredible immersive experience for the upcoming film Dora and the Lost City of Gold. In addition to the branded activations and photo moments, the booth also features an arcade, DIY craft station and a slime covered 2-story build with a retail store below and a DJ booth above with a custom Nickelodeon orange slide. SNOWPIERCER BOOTH AT COMIC-CON – SAN DIEGO, CA AND NEW YORK, NY The booth featured a 3D replica of the show’s iconic train set against a larger than life, glowing mountain scape with 3D glass shards throughout. In addition, the booth housed 3 vending machines that shared exclusive show content while distributing the show’s own “bug bars” to conference goers. BLOOMINGDALES HOLIDAY WINDOW REVEAL – NEW YORK, NY Staged on Lexington Avenue, we created custom Kabuki drapes to look like beautifully wrapped gifts along the front of the store. We then choreographed a festive show staring Kenan Thompson, Cameron Seely and Lindsey Sterling with Bloomingdales CEO Tony Spring. The show included live performances, carolers, back up dancers and concluded with a dramatic countdown. Once the crowd yelled ‘one’, the drapes dropped to reveal an amazing and interactive set of Grinch themed windows complete with Whoville décor, moving elements and plenty of holiday cheer. As the windows were revealed, we launched an artificial snowstorm to festive holiday music. PHILANTHROPIC & FUNDRAISING EVENTS – LA AND NY Working with Saks Fifth Avenue and Stonewall to celebrate PRIDE 2019; HBC to raise awareness for their HeadFirst initiative; and partnering with Saks Fifth Avenue and Happy Not Perfect during mental health awareness month with pop-ups in both LA and NY. PREMIERES – LA AND NY We also designed and produced dozens of incredible premieres and red carpets across the country. A few standouts include: POKEMON DETECTIVE PIKACHU – TIMES SQUARE, NY Yellow was definitely the color of the night, when the stars came out to celebrate Pokémon Detective Pikachu in New York! Set on Military Island in the middle of Times Square, this carpet was one of a kind complete with custom neon framing, 3D characters and metal piping, and a Pokémon yellow carpet. In addition to the step and repeat for the film’s cast and crew, we also created a second carpet experience for the public. This dynamic second display included an oversized Pikachu inflatable balloon worthy of a parade, a custom branded 7-11 truck with a Pokémon themed slurpee and a live costumed character who was on hand to pose with the thousands of fans that came by. Guests were then treated to a special screening of the film and a beautiful after party at the Edition Hotel with Tokyo inspired food and drinks. LAST CHRISTMAS – CENTRAL PARK, NY The holiday season arrived a bit early this year as we partnered with Universal Pictures to help celebrate the premiere of their new film, Last Christmas. The expansive carpet at AMC Lincoln Square featured magical lampposts adorned with Christmas garland and carolers in authentic Dickens costumes as guests arrived on the carpet. Guests were then shuttled to the Loeb Boathouse in Central Park for a whimsical winter wonderland themed after party. The venue was fully decorated with oversized Christmas trees, garland, wreaths, holiday florals and stylish lounge furniture throughout. Guests were treated to a surprise performance of George Michael holiday hits by the carolers complete with fake snow and a beautiful display of illuminated Christmas trees floating on boats off the main deck. FROZEN II WRAP PARTY – PASADENA CONVENTION CENTER, PASADENA Disney Animation’s wrap party for Frozen II took place at the Pasadena Convention Center this weekend and was as magical as the film itself. Guests entered via a live fog curtain complete with film themed lighting and sound design and were then greeted by oversized 3D monoliths and landscape from the movie. The ballroom was completely transformed with an array of custom forest trees in the film’s color palette and beautiful tree shaped light patterns around the venue walls. In the center, was an impressive custom 20×20 ice bar boasting the film’s logo, birch tree design and 3D diamonds throughout. A custom diamond and crystal chandelier hung over the diamond shaped dance floor where guests danced the night away. The event also included a live fire dancer performance; sugar candy artist and cotton candy station making creations in the shape of Anna, Elsa and Olaf; two green screen photo booths featuring the films characters; and signature cocktails with neon blue ice cubes. Life-size statues of Anna, Elsa and Olaf were also on hand for the perfect photo op. 1917 – TCL CHINESE THEATRE, HOLLYWOOD The world premiere of 1917 took place last night at the iconic TCL Chinese Theatre in Hollywood. The impressive carpet boasted three different step and repeat looks including a set of 10 ’ 1917 numbers in the film’s ombré color aesthetic. Immediately following the screening, guests headed to the famed Sunset Tower Hotel to celebrate. The after party featured an indoor/outdoor reception overlooking the city, handsome floral arrangements, ambient music and jeweled toned lounge accents by DESIGNER8*.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
As an LA native, I love nothing more than showing friends around our great city! And while I always have favorite spots in mind, I typically like to keep schedules flexible and let it evolve organically. Some of my favorite spots/activities include: – Breakfast at Back on the Beach – Shopping on Rodeo, a walk through the Century City Mall and then visiting the boutiques on Robertson Blvd and a late lunch at The Ivy – Visit to the iconic Getty Museum for both the incredible art and amazing view – Hiking Runyon Canyon for the best photo ops! – Dinner at Mastros Beverly Hills because everyone LOVES Butter Cake! – Trip to the Malibu Country Mart for more shopping and of course a cocktail at Café Habana – Then head over to Nobu Malibu for dinner and cocktails at sunset – A casual stroll down the Venice boardwalk for people watching – Then make our way to Abbot Kinney to Felix and after to Salt & Straw for the most amazing ice cream, with a final stop at one of my favorite bars – The Brig – Head to Bestia in DTLA to switch it up – Of course, you cannot visit LA without making a stop at Disneyland. Not only is it a great way to bring out your inner child, but the design is second to none. – Depending on time and the crowd visiting, I may add a few more tourist attractions such as Hollywood Blvd, Universal Studios and Ripley’s for some old school Hollywood fun. – And lastly, I always book dinner at Totoraku well in advance! At the end of the day, it’s as much about the sun and the sights as it is being together with great company.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I want to shout out to all of those impacted by COVID -19, especially to all of the events and hospitality professionals who have been crushed by this pandemic. However, it has been amazing to see how everyone has joined together and learned to lean on each other for guidance, support and ideas during this difficult time. In the past, we were all competing with one another for jobs, but through this pandemic we have collaborated and aligned on shared initiatives and many new friendships and partnerships have been formed along the way. We have really enjoyed seeing how professionals across the country and world have shown up with creative ideas to work through event scenarios, come up with new formats for COVID friendly events, and collaborating to ensure our voices heard with government officials. And we pleased to share that we have started to design and produce small events with COVID and safety precautions in place. We recently worked with a family to host a Bat Mitzvah at their home with a split service and party to ensure social distancing measures were met. The family was incredibly responsible and we worked together to ensure all guests and staff received COVID tests 24hours prior to the event. In addition, we also worked with Casamigos on their annual Halloween celebration only this year the event took place via a mobile truck experience rather than an over-the-top party. The COVID-friendly activation included a custom branded truck, which starred co-founders George Clooney and Rande Gerber riding down a haunted highway on motorcycles, delivered Casamigos branded treats and swag to celebrities and influencers across Southern California. Guests were treated to a completely retrofitted truck interior complete with a photo moment, Halloween goodies, liters of their favorite Casmigos Tequila flavors, custom blended Growlers with blood orange margaritas and cozy Casamigos branded onesies for guests to enjoy at home alongside their favorite scary movie. These examples are proof that you can still safely and successfully host social and corporate events and we look forward to designing many more!
Other: DESIGNER8* Event Furniture Rental www.designer8.com @designer8furiturerental- Instagram https://www.facebook.com/designer8eventfurniturerental/ – Facebook
COMPASS CORPORATE EVENT
– ADINAYEV ACM AWARDS
– LINE8 PHOTOGRAPHY HOT ZONE AFTER PARTY
– BRYONY SHEARMUR PHOTOGRAPHY CASAMIGOS HALLOWEEN PARTY
– BRYONY SHEARMUR PHOTOGRAPHY FROZEN II AFTER PARTY
– BRYONY SHEARMUR PHOTOGRAPHY POKEMON PREMIERE
– ARNOLD BROWER PHOTOGRAPHY NICKELODEON VIDCON BOOTH
– BRYONY SHEARMUR PHOTOGRAPHY SNOWPIERCER BOOTH
– THE FIRM EVENT DESIGN