Before and After: Hollywood Event Style

Imagining worlds and then producing them is the art of the event designer. It’s also the craft of the Hollywood art director. So it’s not surprising that when Billy Butchkavitz began to design last year’s Golden Globes HBO after-party, he’d call on the spirit of Cedric Gibbons, one of Hollywood’s most influential production designers. Working in the thirties, Gibbons’ style was decadent Art Deco – the type that is associated with platinum blondes, endless cocktails and piano lounges.

And so taking his cues from this, as well as one of Cedric’s musical sets, Butchkavitz conceived a Hollywood event style using a rich topaz and gold palette for this annual indoor-outdoor event held at the Beverly Hills Hilton.

To recall a Hollywood premiere from Cedric’s era, we added a classic effect – klieg lighting, only with a modern technology spin on it using a series of Sharpie fixtures that did a “ballyhoo” in the night sky, just as they did in the thirties.

Inside, Images by Lighting’s design was just as classic (yet modern). Designed to highlight certain areas, as well as cast an overall texture across the major architectural elements, we used several techniques. One of these was the projection of a swirl pattern on a major element in the “set” — a dramatic golden staircase that descended from a 24-foot-high upholstered perimeter wall. This same lighting pattern was then projected over the charcoal grey carpeting.

Around the perimeter of the room, Images used LED uplighting to overlay an architectural element to the space. These light columns anchored the space while lighting washes in gold and amber added warmth. Pinspotting on the table made the flowers – arrangements of gardenias, cream roses, China mums, and white amaryllis true to the trends of that era – pop.

To add yet another layer of texture onto the timeless event design, Images created a custom pattern inspired by the work of the 1930s artist, Gustav Klimt. This was projected on the perimeter surfaces, including the exterior of the ballroom wall used during the broadcast. Between these, the warm tones and classic color palette, everyone looks gorgeous. Finding lighting that flatters everyone, as well as the design, is a talent that never grow old in Hollywood, no matter the era.


HBO Golden Globes at the Beverly Hilton, Beverly Hills, CA

Photos: Gabor Ekecs

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Liese Gardner is a marketing and content strategist for top brands in the event industry and can be found at As a contributor to DesignDawgs, Liese generates original content and curates contributed articles from professionals in a variety of design fields.

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