It’s no secret that the trends in event design have long been moving towards environmental and architectural looks. Even for the most stylish of clients, we are often asked for their events to “blend in” for a variety of reasons. In a tumultuous economy, you don’t want your events to stand out for the wrong reasons. Excess can be the kiss of death. But good taste and simplicity never go out of style.

On a site inspection to La Jolla, California we found ourselves at the Scripps Seaside Forum at the Scripps Institute of Oceanography. The site is an architectural masterpiece on the edge of the Pacific Ocean that speaks for itself. But what it needed was some well-thought-out design and carefully placed elements to personalize the space for our client.

Our design philosophy has always been to design the event to fit the site. Our challenge was to make the event look like something custom and special and not extravagant. It was important for us to create a seamless design that flowed throughout the event space, while taking advantage of a beautiful setting. We wanted to present a first class experience without being obvious or going over the top.

We were fortunate to have the opportunity to speak with the architect of the space to understand the building philosophy and the history behind the design. We strove to create a green design that was seamless with the architecture and the natural setting. After our meeting with the architect it was time to go to work.

The dinner space was open to the ocean, but wasn’t large enough to accommodate the guest count. However the building had a wide opening to the beach. We needed to create an outdoor patio extension. Eight-foot-tall bamboo fabric panels were perfect to create the effect we were looking for. Custom hedgerow planters, just three feet high, were used to enclose the space, yet keep an unobstructed ocean view. The effect was that of a finished restaurant, customized to the needs of our client.

Everything we brought in had to be custom made to fit the specs of the building and to blend in with the interior design elements. Zebra wood was found throughout the building, thus the bars and lounge tables were designed to match the existing wood grain. The bar fronts were beautiful white suede, which matched the lounge settings in the outdoor reception. The fabrics used for the pillows and other accents matched the overall color scheme. The perimeter of the room was draped with deep chocolate floor length velvet, creating a dramatic canvas on which to “paint” with lighting.

The guest dining tables were covered in bleached burlap overlays, tailored to the existing tables. An organic mahogany container centering the tabletop filled with tumbled ocean rocks, sustainable succulents and organic orange calla lilies. The chairs were custom designed in a brown leather Milano style for a clean, modern look that worked well with the overall look as well as for comfort.

One unique challenge included the existing cement benches attached to the building. Our solution was to turn the benches into furniture settings by adding custom design pillows and lounge chairs. We were able to turn cold cement into warm lounge settings for guests to gather.

Finally, the lighting was designed to highlight the architecture of this outstanding teak-wood building. The patterns in warm colors are always welcome at an evening oceanside reception. They covered the outdoor lounge areas as well as highlighting the building itself. The band, located on the beach facing inland, were highlighted and the palm trees and plants in the area were uplighted for a stunning effect. Inside the dining area, warm gobo projection patterns on the walls added a finished look to the space and a warm ambience to the inside along with the glow of candlelight.

After the event, the client loved the simple elegance of a fabulous setting and a seamless design. Few of the attendees had any idea what preparations went into making this setting look like one of Southern California’s trendiest restaurants on the ocean’s edge. The setting, the ambiance and the décor made the evening blend into a delightful memory for those in attendance.

Scripps Seaside Institute

San Diego, CA