2015 Preview: Event Designers Predict What's In and What's Out for the Year Ahead

Planners and designers are saying bye-bye to burlap and Mason jars and hello to more customization, fairy tale themes, and Korean barbecue in 2015.

Normally associated with corporate events, the use of bitmap projection at social events, such as weddings, will increase in the coming year, predicts Todd Fiscus of Todd Events.
Normally associated with corporate events, the use of bitmap projection at social events, such as weddings, will increase in the coming year, predicts Todd Fiscus of Todd Events.
Photo: Stephen Karlisch

Event designers from across North America shared with us the event decor and style trends that they think are so 2014, and the ones they think will dominate the year ahead.

What's In
Fairy tale themes: Fairy tale-inspired events will be big, predicts Josh Tierney, director of style and design at New York-based Great Performances. But he warns that "fairy tale inspiration is dangerous. If not handled carefully, it can easily go the way of kitsch. With the release of Into the Woods at the end of this year, the return of Cinderella to Broadway, and a resurgence of fairy tale films, the theme is ripe for adaptation by the event world."

Customization: "The trend for a fully customizable event is a hot potato. From custom graphics applied to dance floors, unique textures and bold patterns found in mix-and-matched fabrics, custom rugs and furniture to programmable lighting, clients want events that scream personalization," says the team at Kehoe Designs in Chicago.

Will and Kate: And speaking of getting the white-glove treatment, the Chicago-based event designers also predict that the royal family's influence will be seen at more parties. "This formal inspiration will feature lush prints, delicate lace, and finely patterned textiles to suit luxurious weddings and the most formal affairs."

Korean cuisine: When it comes to catering, Tierney is a fan of Korean barbecue. "It’s not heavy like Chinese or overdone like sushi. Sizzling bulgogi meats look and smell great when sizzling on a food station. Fermentation is also a macro food trend that extends to kimchi in Korean cuisine. People are going crazy for contemporary Korean fusion food items like kimchi tacos."

Marsala: As for that other "food" trend, Pantone's color of the year Marsala will work its way into events and beyond, predicts Julie Shanklin, president of Syzygy Events in Gaithersburg, Maryland. "This warm color with a brown undertone will be the new look for spring. We are going to see it in floral for weddings as well as clothing trends and for the home." The team from Events in the City, a Washington-based event planning company specializing in weddings, agrees. "Unexpected color combos of lights with brights will be big for 2015, such as highly pigmented colors like fern, eggplant, and Marsala, but paired with their pastel counterparts to soften the blow."

Golden touch: "Metallics will continue to be important accents, though rose gold and copper will still be pushing their way to the forefront to try to get attention," say the designers from Events in the City. Silver used to be the go-to choice, but gold is becoming more popular, adds Kristine Finke, designer from Bold American Events & Catering in Atlanta.

Cool chairs: "Clients are beginning to get excited about interesting chairs, which is something I always encourage," says Shealyn Angus, event designer from Bliss Events in Toronto. "If you think about it, there is nothing of larger quantity at a wedding. You can have hundreds of chairs at a wedding, and what an incredible way to make a huge impact with an interesting dining chair. Rental companies in Toronto are continuously expanding their chair inventory and really pushing the style boundaries."

Surprise performances: "There is a great interest in live, surprise entertainment. That doesn't necessarily mean celebrity entertainment; it could mean the right musician, the right magician, the right funky, guerilla performance artist—interactive surprises that become living decor," says event designer David Stark.

Tech takeover: Dallas-based event designer Todd Fiscus of Todd Events predicts that technology will continue to play a major role in events, such as laser-cut acrylic lace overlays in tabletop decor and bitmap projections—normally associated with corporate events—being used at social gatherings like weddings.

What's Out
Rustic burnout: Raw burlap and Mason jars, along with "farm tables in their basic form are going out of style. Clients want to see them used in a new way—rustic glam instead of just rustic," say the team at Bold American Events. "Mason jars are for pickling, not for table decor," adds the team from Kehoe Designs. "Please, give it a rest on the burlap. This tired-out trend needs to ride off into the sunset."

Good-bye, Great Gatsby: "The Roaring '20s have been inspiring events, design, and restaurant and bar concepts for the better part of this decade. We’ve had our fill of Edison lightbulbs, predictable ‘speakeasy’ bars, and mustachioed craft cocktail bartenders," Tierney says.

Glow no: "Glowing furniture has got to go. I have been begging for this since it arrived, and it seems to always keep coming back so I am hoping to set a trend for glow furniture to find its way out," Shanklin says.

Au revoir, macarons: "French macarons are so ubiquitous that they have lost their surprise and delight," Stark says.

Prissy petals: "Tight flower arrangements are out, and full, loose, garden-inspired blooms are in. The more organic looking, the better," Angus says.

Less is more: "We are seeing less and less huge weddings with hundreds of guests—a lot more quality over quantity. Instead, spending the budget on those more V.I.P. guests instead of spreading yourself thin by having double the headcount," say the team from Events in the City.

More in Catering