Cooper-Hewitt Depends on Bowman Dahl

By Lauren Matison July 31, 2008, 11:54 AM EDT

Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum's Barbara Roan

Photo: Courtesy of Barbara Roan

Barbara Roan joined the Smithsonian's Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum as special events manager in December 2007. Roan previously spent two years at Gen Art as the event coordinator and art program manager. At the Cooper-Hewitt she organizes several large annual events, including the National Design Awards Gala.

Flowers: “Brian Bowman and Dan Dahl (previously of Gotham Gardens) are behind Bowman Dahl and are a severely creative duo. Regardless of the theme or atmosphere, I can depend on them to produce unusual arrangements, not generic square vases with banana leaves. The flowers are always fresh. If you call up and say, ‘I want this many white roses’ and a quick turnaround, they’ll do their utmost with what they have available that day; their off the cuff interpretations often wow me.”

Caterer: ”Restaurant Associates has a super-professional staff and consistently covers all the bases at our biggest events. The director of catering, Ezra Nanes—who also works with the Guggenheim—makes every event chic, whether it’s casual or black tie. For our summer cocktail events, the skewered grilled shrimp with heirloom tomato gazpacho vinaigrette and braised beef short rib sandwiches with Korean BBQ sauce are delicious.”

Design: David Stark does our National Design Awards, and he is what makes this industry such an exciting place to be. For our event last year, it was all about going green. He came up with the most ingenious idea about using shredded recycled paper, like our staff memos, to ornament the tables instead of typical floral arrangements. David is also a great resource, whether it’s putting an original eco-friendly bent on something or finding unconventional vendors and venues.”

Entertainment: “When we do our member’s garden party we use the Ed Fuqua Group. They are a fantastic jazz trio made up of a drummer, base and piano player. For Cocktails at Cooper-Hewitt during the summer and for opening exhibition receptions, we always book them. They are so reliable and come on time with most of the equipment. Another wonderful thing about the group is their huge range. From Coltrane songs to their own original score, the guests really enjoy the music. We’ve used them for many years and will certainly continue to do so.”

Printing: “I use, which is a great resource for smaller events. When I send out postcard mailings, posters, or invitations, they consistently meet the deadline. If there are any issues, I call the customer service reps who are very friendly and knowledgeable. The L.A.-based company is super affordable, and I can easily get a quote since it’s an online vendor.”

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