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EVENT REPORT

2001-2011: HBO’s Golden Globes Party: Same Spot, Different Looks

Photo: Gabor Ekecs

The Beverly Hilton is home to an array of glittering parties on Golden Globes night each year—partially because staying on site is the only way parties can get a live feed of the ceremony itself. Typically among the most visually noteworthy of the night’s events is HBO’s bash. Given that year after year, the party takes over the same real estate—the poolside space and the restaurant now known as Circa 55—and has a throng of repeat guests (many of them with multiple invitations to consider), the challenge is to give the space a brand-new face each go-round.

HBO and designer Billy Butchkavitz, who has been working with the network for 17 years, have achieved this feat in part through a dazzling projection wall and curtained perimeter that each year reflect a strikingly new theme.

Historically, the look has ranged from masculine and metallic, to whimsical and colorful—sometimes reaching to opposite extremes consecutive years to punctuate the vastly different aesthetic. In 2006, 700 guests of the network found golden and bronze colors dominating. Faux bronze reliefs covered the venue’s existing columns, reproductions of 1930s furnishings and art decked the space, and metal sculptures evoked Rockefeller Center’s Atlas sculpture. A subfloor covered half of the hotel’s pool, and a metal structure with a 10-foot ring of fire burning on top floated on the other half.

Such visual drama was nowhere to be found in 2008, when the Globes ceremony and its typical big parties were canceled in favor of a press conference during the Writers Guild of America strike.

The following year came another strike threat: the looming possibility of a SAG strike. Although there was private concern as to the fate of the January 2009 ceremony, organizers nevertheless maintained that the show would go on and prepared accordingly. In the end, HBO’s party was among those that brought the familiar grandeur back to the Hilton, with the line to get in from the Hilton’s lobby stretching 90 minutes at some points in the evening. Design inspiration that year came from the architecture of Luis Barragán and vintage ’60s textiles, the space awash in banana yellow and chocolate brown. Images by Lighting and Bart Kresa were responsible for the yellow-dominated lighting and projections that showed moving images within HBO’s logo against an animal-print backdrop.

With an informal theme of “sparkle, shimmer, shine,” the 2010 look included design elements inspired by the early space-age years and multiple James Bond movies. Decor pieces included Sputnik-inspired chandeliers and sculptures that decorated the party’s lounges and dining decks, and a 22-foot-high wall of copper paillette draperies that concealed the existing poolside cabanas and created a shimmering perimeter.

And the most recent installment took what might be considered the opposite design tack: The 2011 party drew its inspiration from the colorful vintage work of designer Emilio Pucci, whose designs from the late 1950s and early ’60s inspired a palette of aqua, teal, turquoise, avocado, chocolate, and lime: Color was the name of the game.   


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