By Susan O'Neill Posted June 16, 2009, 11:23 AM EDT
TORONTO To mark the closing weekend of the Luminato Toronto Festival of Arts + Creativity, event sponsor Telus invited 430 clients and business partners to a cocktail reception Friday at Harbourfront Centre, the site of a special Cirque du Soleil performance that was commissioned for the 2009 festival. Chitra Anand, communications director for Telus, worked with 43degrees Design Collective to create two event spaces overlooking a pond on the waterfront where Cirque performed at 7:30 p.m.
“Basically what we wanted to do was recreate the space and the environments [being used in the Cirque performance]. The whole concept is about natural and urban settings, which is very much on brand for Telus,” Anand said.
The Cirque performance centred around two communities that formed on the waterfront on Friday night—one, called Na, representing the natural world and the other, Ban, representing the urban community. The two tribes performed at opposite ends of the waterfront, with Na taking to the pond at Harbourfront Centre and Ban setting up camp at the Music Garden further west. The two groups performed several shows in various locations along the waterfront throughout the weekend and unified at HTO Park for one final performance on Sunday night.
To honour that performance, 43degrees created indoor and outdoor spaces inspired by the two groups. The design company filled the indoor urban setting with white furnishings from Contemporary Furniture Rentals, including long communal tables. “We want to allow for an environment that is interactive. We want our business partners to meet each other,” Anand said. Purple arrangements from Forget Me Not Flowers topped tables; Luanda Jones performed on stage; and a large screen above the food station displayed architectural images.
A purple carpet—a common element at Telus events—ran the length of the walkway that connected the indoor space with the outdoor tent, where three food stations and a bar surrounded a display of greenery and an ice sculpture of a flock of Canada geese. “In the tent we have leaves and a soft Zen feel,” Anand said. “We used our own imagery and it looks amazing.” Images of leaves and butterflies, commonly seen in Telus ads, hung from clotheslines behind the food stations.
Anand called on Liberty Grand Catering to cater the event. Servers offered dishes like tandoori chicken kebabs, steak frites, and crispy jumbo tiger prawns at food stations throughout the venue. Passed hors d'oeuvres included items like shitake mushroom and asparagus dynamite rolls, mini sirloin burgers with roasted onion confit, arugula, and garlic aioli, and hoisin-braised short rib mini shepherd's pie topped with scallion mash.