Party On - Design Bureau

Cooper-Hewitt National Design Awards 10th Anniversary. All images courtesy of David Stark

Robin Hood Foundation Gala

American Patrons of the Tate Artist's Dinner

Metropolitan Opera 125th Anniversary Gala

Party On

Monday, February 13th, 2012

New Yorkers pour a lot of blood, sweat, and tears into looking just right. This is especially true of their spectacular soirées, events that require an incredible amount of planning. Here, David Stark, master designer behind some of the Big Apple's most memorable parties, takes a quick second to tell us how he pulls it off.

1. How much manpower and how many hours does it take to plan, design, and stage such a banner event like the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Awards 10th Anniversary?

It takes a tremendous amount of time and energy. We tend to work on a gala for about six to eight months in advance.  I have a full time staff of 30 and we have a large and fabulous crew of freelance production assistants. Because the work we do becomes iconic for a foundation or brand, we tend to not repeat ideas. Each creative journey takes longer because we start from scratch, inventing each time.

2. What is the one key concept to making any event memorable, regardless of if it’s for thousands of people or just a few close friends?

The details. Thoughtful, inventive, special details–and that does not have to mean expensive details–makes a guest stop and say, “WOW, they really thought about ME.”

You know, this is almost a party cliché at this point, but it is so true: Candles are instant magic and immediately create a party vibe. If you can have nothing else, have lots of candles and you are all set. 

3. Which of your events has been your personal favorite? 

I will always have a soft spot for an event we did for the Robin Hood Foundation a couple of years back. We made the décor entirely out of a million dollars-worth of donated product that the people in their programs needed most. We could not nail, screw, glue, or destroy any of the items because after the party, they all went directly into the hands of the program participants. No waste at all, and I am so proud of the fact that the décor was so infused with conceptual meaning. When décor is not “decoration,” but conveys meaning, that is when I am most thrilled.