Thursday, April 12, 2012


For five years in a row we've had the amazing opportunity of design the press booth for the Vision Council at Vision Expo in New York at the Javits. Besides getting us back to New York for site surveys, purchasing junkets, production supervision and the final event installation it continues to be a golden opportunity to suck up everything the city has to offer. Every year the design wheels start turning the day after we finish striking the show from the year before.
We are on the boards trying to sketch out ways to make the next year even better than the year before. Then comes the sit and wait period while we wait for our assigned space to be figured out and for the budget to work its way to a final number. And then there are always aspects of the process that are out of our control. Will the fire marshal tell us we have to move our space back another ten feet from the escalator entrance? Will they turn the air-conditioning on at the last minute blowing our drapery panels into the booth like big bits of Kleenex? Will we have to take down a wall so we aren't blocking the view into a major vendor's adjacent booth?
This year our concept was clean and modern with a Swedish bent and a touch of spring. We added new bonnets and wood panels to our space this year made of birch ply. We left the ply edges exposed in our construction to give an added detail to our work. The blond wood was just enough contrast to the white bookcases. The whole look of birch and white produced a clean Scandinavian quality to the space. White carpets gave the space its elegance along with a touch of black from the table lampshades.
Our silver mirrors added to the richness of the space extending the perception of the space to be larger than it was. Every way you turned there were more glasses reflected in the walls of mirrors.
This year we had an added complication. The Javits is going through a major renovation. Our space was under a false ceiling. The glass ceiling we had grown accustomed to was now a metal umbrella barely holding out the rain. It was like a dark cloud that now required some pops of artificial light. Our metal pipes that we had used to support our panels, mirrors and framed posters surrounding the room were now having to double as lighting stands that would bring the sun back into our space.
We added an entry of twenty hurricane shades and flameless candles (compliance with fire codes demanded the flameless route) and the magic of Thomas Edison gave a really nice warm glow to our space.
We added touches of spring around the space with purple and chartreuse flowers. Glass bowls wrapped in purple satin ribbon helped create a corridor for our trends exhibit.
A metal table with twenty vases each holding a single purple hyacinth stalk and topped with a glass shelf was there to balance the color in the room.

The University of Wisconsin boasts one the largest and oldest arboreta in the nation. Filled with ecological communities for both plants and animals the arboretum has preserved thousands of acres of open unspoiled areas replicating the indigenous land before it was invaded by the likes of us. Most of the land is devoted to research with trails and gardens all begun during the depression when land was cheap and labor was plentiful.
The Longenecker Horticultural Gardens is by far my favorite. I have a picture of myself as a young boy standing under one of the amazing lilac trees my arms out stretched, my hair in a post-war buzz cut and a huge smile on my face. I've kept the scent of those lilacs in my memory bank for all these many years. These gardens contain the nations largest collection of lilacs and an extensive fifty-acre display of flowering crabapples, magnolias and viburnums.
The time in which all of this is in bloom is short, but when it is at its peak the tune it plays on your olfactory senses and the spectacle of color that you are treated to is incomparable to almost any sight I've seen. Take that Washington and your cherry trees.

Cherry Blossom Festival, Washington D.C.
Photographer unknown

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