Design Clues: All Roads Lead to Rome

By David Merrell

The great artists, architects and civilizations of all time left a trail of design clues which designers have been following for generations. Of course the Italians have left some of the most delicious crumbs for design explorers such as myself.

I picked up on that trail again recently when my company, AOO Events was brought on to do a design project at The Resort at Pelican Hill with Allied PRA. The stunning venue along the coast of the Pacific Ocean is based on Italian architecture and in fact, its marketing materials even state that the resort’s style “modern day Baroque.”


The ocean setting, so similar to that of the Mediterranean, easily evokes this Italian comparison in ambiance, climate and cuisine. That became the basis for this event’s design.


My obsession with the architecture of Florence was emulated in a gobo pattern used at this event. It was very similar to a pattern that I saw in that city, forged in bronze on a church door.


Photo: Jon Almero

The fabric covering the front of the custom bar was a recurring pattern I had seen in cathedral roofs and on gazebos in Rome.


Photo: Jon Almero

In restaurants in the Tuscan countryside, I never ceased to be charmed by buffets created by wooden doors on oak wine barrels. We brought that look to this event.


Photo: Jon Almero

And the floral styling was inspired by many of the hotels in Florence and Pisa.


Photo: Jon Almero

While my travels throughout Italy helped feed my design inspiration for this event, travel in today’s world can be easily done virtually. There are so many great sites, and of course books, documenting Italy through the ages. When looking for inspiration, all the clues are there and easy to find. Only, take my advice, and dust off that passport. There is no substitute for actually being there. In his book, Travels, Michael Crichton said it best …

“Often I feel I go to some distant region of the world to be reminded of who I really am. There is no mystery about why this should be so. Stripped of your ordinary surroundings, your friends, your daily routines, your refrigerator full of your food, your closet full of your clothes — with all this taken away, you are forced into direct experience. Such direct experience inevitably makes you aware of who it is that is having the experience. That’s not always comfortable, but it is always invigorating.”
Michael Crichton, Travels

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David E. Merrell

In addition to being the founder of DesignDawgs, David Merrell is the Owner and Creative Director of AOO Events. His name has become synonymous with cutting-edge event design for live and staged productions. David is a sought-after producer with a growing list of Fortune 500 and international corporations for product launches, corporate events, celebrity-attended fundraisers as well as intimate weddings.

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