The Grammy after-party hosted by Universal Music Group and produced by production designer Krislyn Komarov, and producer Mary Hill from Krislyn Design and Production was a tonic for those 1,000 jangled souls who arrived at the Ace Hotel, flush from a long Grammy telecast and overly stimulated by flashbulbs popping along the step-and-repeat.
After making their way through the hotel’s lobby, which Images by Lighting had enhanced with well-placed amber uplights and soft texture projection on the venue’s impressive architecture and ceiling murals, guests entered the Grammy after-party and the event space. Only one week earlier it had been The Theatre at the Ace Hotel, a 1,600-seat venue. Now it was an expansive flat space after Komarov and Hill had subfloors built over the seating then covered them in simulated vinyl cork on one level and vinyl wood flooring on another.
The overall color palette of earth tones was bathed in soft lighting textures by Images’ lighting designers Ray Thompson and Curt Stahl. The high-end interior overtone was derived from furnishings, 80 percent of which was fabricated expressly for this event, Komarov said. The sofas, chairs, coffee tables, geometric wood tables, and plaid settees were grouped in lounge areas and offset with customized area rugs. Nearby greenery was uplighted and large LED spheres on remote control were suspended from nets giving the entire space the feeling of an upscale treehouse.
On stage the treehouse illusion was even stronger. A soft-focused video projection of forest shadows taken by Patricia Von Ah was the backdrop for a 30-foot plywood bar that spanned the width of the stage. In front of the contemporary-rustic look of the bar, faux pine trees soared into the catwalks. Video from a sky series was projected onto the ceiling architecture by Production Alliance Group. Further, tree shadows were projected as a window pane on two of the back walls in the space. Against them, artful installations of fresh winter branches and reeds completed the atmospheric feeling.
“Our intent was to create layers of design elements that guests might not automatically notice, but that would become part of the event space’s overall mood,” Komarov said.
The lighting was part of those elements. “Our lighting worked with these projections on the stage, the back walls and also on the ceiling where clouds were video mapped, to allude to the feeling Krislyn wanted to create,” Thompson said. “We wanted an ethereal atmosphere, with very slow moving projections, paying attention to the dark spaces, and playing down the architecture of the space inside the theater.”
But in the lobby, the intent of the lighting was actually to enhance the theater’s architecture. Various shades of amber lighting were used throughout the large central guest area which showed off the dramatic Moorish murals and carvings, adding to the elegance of the evening. As guests moved between the lobby and main event space, the lighting served as contrast between the two spaces for a greater design experience.
Like music, event design is about creating an experience that lasts in reality a short time, yet in our memories last forever. Both create an emotional touch stone that we return to again and again. In this case, the ethereal aspect of design and lighting achieved that resonance.
By Liese Gardner
This post first appeared on Images By Lighting