HBO Emmy Party Channels Modernist Brasilia at Under-Construction Design Center

HBO's Emmy party channeled modernist Brasilia for 2,000 guests at the Pacific Design Center.

By Irene Lacher September 22, 2008, 4:08 PM EDT

A clear-topped tent showed the night sky.

Photo: Gabor Ekecs

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For 20 years or so, HBO has been a favored guest at the Emmys, which the cable channel celebrates with a big bash of its own. Add the yearly Golden Globe party to the mix, and the event team has a lot of themes it can't repeat. So for Sunday's Emmy party, HBO's longtime collaborator Billy Butchkavitz went far afield—5,800 miles away to be exact—to freshen the look of the cable channel's celebration of its landslide of golden statues, which included a record-breaking 13 for the lavish miniseries John Adams. Working with HBO vice president of special events Eileen Rivard, Butchkavitz looked to the modernist utopia of Brasilia for inspiration for the network's sprawling party at its usual haunt—the Pacific Design Center's fountain plaza in West Hollywood.

With Brasilia's principal architect, Oscar Niemeyer, as his spiritual guide and a cheerful palette of topaz blue and tourmaline green, Butchkavitz dressed the space in complementary geometric textiles from Argentina, reborn in HBO's colors, and enormous blow-ups of 23 abstract paintings by South American artists Pastor Berrios Herrera, Roque Menaglio, and Janette Goldberg. Popping against the cool colors were splashes of citrine yellow—gloriosa lilies and cymbidum in vases and centerpieces—and silver: oversize jardinieres made of thin strips of metal, votive holders and centerpieces formed by slender branches pointing upward, and studded parsons tables and seating cubes covered in snakeskin-patterned material. Silver retro-style sculptures modeled after Brazilian artwork decorated buffets.

The South American art and architecture theme meshed nicely with space restrictions caused by ongoing construction of the PDC's new red building, which reduced the plaza space, forcing Butchkavitz to create room to party by building up and out toward San Vicente Boulevard. The DJ booth stood atop a lounge area next to the dance floor, and the far side of the clear-topped V.I.P. tent was flanked with stairs leading up to terraces overlooking the festivities. Also incorporated into the decor was the PDC's long, rectangular fountain leading to the street, which was showcased with six floating torches surrounded by crowns of '60s-style boomerangs. Boomerangs also dominated the tent in a 27-foot-wide chandelier inspired by Niemeyer's designs as well as a 37-foot-high torch tower blazing against the evening sky.

As more than 2,000 guests entered through the PDC building, they passed a cluster of Laura Mercier makeup artists offering touch-ups. (Mercier also supplied gift bags, which reflected the planners' eye for detail—the gift included a palette of blue and green eye shadows to coordinate with the decor, as well as a neutral khaki hue.) Nearby was a band of young hunks proffering a dazzling array of Godiva chocolates, boxes of which were offered as parting gifts to male guests. In keeping with the art theme, the walls behind them were adorned with abstract artwork made of truffles.

Revelers sipped Belvedere Brazilians (vodka, lemonade, and peach and mango nectar) and cruised buffets of paella, wild-mushroom empanadas, roasted sea bass with spicy Brazilian baiana sauce, coconut black rice pudding, and more. Meanwhile, New York import Qool DJ Marv spun a mix of Brasilian jazz and contemporary pop, alternating with percussionist Ravi Jakhotia. Later in the evening, the L.A. musician was joined by three-time Emmy winner Jeremy Piven of Entourage, whose drum sessions have become a hallmark of HBO parties.

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