The Top 35 Event Designers—and Their Best Ideas

Meet the people setting trends for the entire industry and see their best ideas.

By Beth Kormanik, Lauren Matthews, and Ellen Sturm Niz March 13, 2013, 8:00 AM EDT

Once upon a time, the phrase “event design” might have conjured up images of damask tablecloths, Chiavari chairs, and a vase full of hydrangeas. But as events are increasingly recognized for their marketing power—and as guests become savvier and harder to impress—gone are the days of design as afterthought, or mere decoration.

Today’s event designers are not simply florists. In order to stand out in a highly competitive marketplace, they must create immersive, visually creative environments that help their clients send messages in targeted, elegant ways. Tables, chairs, linens, lighting, dinnerware, and flowers are not only decorative—in the best hands, they’re transformed into a sophisticated communication medium that influences how people interact with their hosts and with one another.

With that in mind, our goal in highlighting the top designers working right now—daunting as it seemed—was not only to recognize the individuals who are shaping what events look and feel like today, but to also feature the designers’ most memorable efforts of the past year. We also asked them to share their creative process and inspirations. This group designs hundreds of events each year, including product launches, benefits, award shows, brand anniversaries, experiential marketing events, weddings, premiere parties, and much more. Here, in no particular order, is who we think represents the best of the best in event design.

How We Chose the List
We compiled this list after reviewing work from candidates across North America. We looked at not only the quality and volume of their work, but also the designers’ clients and reputations. The list favors those who work on corporate and nonprofit events, although we included some social event specialists. There are familiar names but also some surprises. Most importantly, we sought innovation—work that made the editors gasp or say, “I’ve never seen that before.” Share your thoughts on the list via e-mail to or on Twitter @BizBash_News.

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