Gillian Hoff has been the senior director of special events for four years at Design Exchange, Canada's national design centre. In the old Toronto Stock Exchange building, Design Exchange is a museum as well as a venue, with all revenue supporting the museum. Hoff produces some 400 events annually, including fund-raisers, fashion shows, exhibit openings, and red-carpet galas. She has worked in the industry for 20 years.
Props: ”Eventscape is one of my favorite prop suppliers. They supply enormous stretch fabric panels and structures. At our Steel Blue Gala, we created an amazing cityscape from 30-foot and 20-foot columns. I was re-creating Fritz Lang's Metropolis—the columns and arches are amazing to work with, and you can create some fantastic lighting effects by uplighting the fabric.”
Rentals: “Exclusive Affair Rentals are fantastic. They have a huge resource of rentals and are constantly updating their inventory with new and unique pieces to keep our client events fresh and interesting. No request is ever too complicated, and they always come through for us, even on last-minute requests. Ever since the Design Exchange opened as a venue 13 years ago, we have used Exclusive Affair Rentals.”
Flowers: “I see many florists come through the building for our client events, and two of my favorites are Church Street Flowers and Earthwork. For some of our own exhibit openings and fund-raisers, we rely on Hofland’s for flowers, when we’re on a budget that our talented museum exhibit staff and volunteers can use to create our own displays for themed events.”
Invitations: ”Archetype has created some wonderful invitations and gift bags for our own events. They work closely with our in-house graphic designer, and Archetype’s staff extend themselves to make our design concepts a reality.”
Audiovisual Production: “With more than 35 years of experience in the industry, Rob Sandolowich from Westbury National Show Systems is not only the owner of the company, but a brilliant event designer. His hands-on approach adds style to every event he puts on for us. Last year at our annual Design Exchange Black and White Gala, the theme was 'Feel This.' Rob ran with the idea and created a visual experience embracing the senses, from a giant 600-square-foot sparkling chandelier hanging from our 40-foot ceiling to projections of waterlike movements on the wall, making one feel as if they were in motion.”
Photographer: “Tom Sandler comes to a lot of our internal events. He knows who’s who in Toronto. He’s much loved by partygoers, and they know him well and feel comfortable being shot by him. And we get fantastic press from his coverage. He knows everybody in the crowd, and he shoots a lot of high-end events.”