NEW YORK Travel & Leisure built an interconnected assortment of wooden decks over a reflecting pool in Lincoln Center for the magazine's annual World's Best awards event—a lily-pad-like layout that was timely for the space in front of the Vivian Beaumont Theatre, currently the home of The Frogs. (The Stephen Sondheim musical was performed in an earlier version around a Yale swimming pool.)
On the night of John Kerry's big Democratic National Convention speech, T&L creative projects director Laura Aviva—the planner behind the event and one of BiZBash's 2003 Event Planners of the Year—got lucky with the weather. After a week wet with rain and thick with humidity, the party's outdoor plaza was both breezy and drizzle-free. (There was tenting from P. J. McBride standing by, just in case.) The event followed an awards lunch for 55 at Per Se.
Aviva wanted the party to have a slightly irreverent, quirky feel, so she put a comfortable, casual party in the middle of a location with a serious-minded reputation. “The whole feel was inspired by travel, with a soft ethnic orientation not identifiable to any one place,” Aviva said. Bernhard-Link Theatrical Services built a series of wooden decks over the plaza's reflecting pool, and Aviva and Dean Christopher set up various eclectic seating areas with pillow-strewn ottomans, colorful vases, bowls of figs and wicker chairs (picked up from Ikea, Pier One and various local stores).
The party's heavy-duty invitations came with glass mosaic tiles from T&L advertiser Bisazza attached to a sheet of copper, and those materials were carried through the event's design, with tiles adorning everything from the bars to Olivier Cheng Catering and Events' serving trays. (On the menu: Seared sea scallop with lemon confit, pomegranate-glazed lamb loin on a rosemary skewer with mint chutney, and carrot cardamom and cucumber mint soup shooters.)
To give the row of portable toilets (from Mr. John) an upscale touch, Aviva brought in advertiser Kohler to build a row of stylish sinks, where guests could wash up and grab tubes of lotion from L'Occitane. The marketing tie-in “was about using beautiful products, but not putting them on display—putting them in context,” Aviva said.
To enter the party, guests got copper squares that doubled as playing pieces for a drawing to win a trip to the Maldives. After a tap performance from Savion Glover and six younger tappers that grabbed the entire party's attention and kept it for at least 10 minutes, publisher Ellen Asmodeo and editor Nancy Novogrod greeted the crowd and attempted to give away the trip. But after everyone peeled away stickers on their copper pieces and no one found a winner-denoting mark, Asmodeo was left to improvise a way to pick a winner. Although she offered the vacation to first person to dunk himself completely in the pool—and two guys walked through the water to the small stage—Asmodeo signed off without a winner, merely reminding guests to pick up the Kate Spade-designed gift bags as they exited.
Read our Q&A with Travel & Leisure's Laura Aviva...
Read our coverage of last year's Travel & Leisure World's Best awards...