Working for event designer Jason Morais, the winning team from event production specialist Maestra London returned to the Freemasons Hall in London’s Covent Garden for the second year to ensure that the 2017 Warner Music Brit Awards after-show party was THE one to be seen at and remembered.
Maestra delivered the full technical and creative production including supplying all the technical and scenic infrastructure – set, lighting, rigging, audio, all décor – including a myriad of bespoke designed items, carpeting, furniture, drapage and soft-goods.
With Jason’s vision, the team led by production designer Jenny Woollard, senior project manager Aisha Tarayan and technical managers Adam Jones and Edwin Higgins co-ordinated all elements right down to the colours, textures and styles permeating the rooms.
They produced the many totally custom elements involved in imagining five dynamically different spaces within the venue … which were enjoyed by around 800 guests.
On site, the Maestra team directed and supervised a crew of up to 60 during peak periods, and ensured that meticulous attention was paid to the standards of excellence demanded by the client.
The creative process started with Jason collecting images and impressions that inspired him, from which emanated an outline visual brief for each area. From this, they developed individual aesthetic treatments rather than having an overall ‘theme’ to the event. This method left plenty of scope to remain fluid and interesting en route to enriching the guest experience.
Following the massive WOW factor created last year by the giant mirror ball in the entrance, this year the pressure was on to create another unique high-impact feature to impress arriving guests.
This year the entrance was graced with a spectacular sculpture made from 30 silver helium filled spheres between 1 and 2 metres in diameter … inspired by Jason, this certainly had a show-stopping effect!
The spheres were attached to a custom truss ground support structure wrapped in silver lamé and lit with 8 x Robe LEDWash 600 moving lights ensconced in the truss and hidden from view. These were programmed into a number of sequences complete with strobing chases creating a realistic paparazzi flash-bulb effect as guests rocked up to the event.
After the door, at the end of a sumptuously draped tunnel, guests then entered the Entrance Hall. A false ceiling and back wall were installed, and hung in the middle of this was a 1.8 metre wide Warner logo – which has a distinctive lozenge like appearance.
Maestra had this made out of neon and fitted with two-way mirrors to create an infinity effect, setting a funky and fabulous tone for the environmental delights that were about to unfold.
The drapes and fabric were navy blue in the entrance hall, both to add depth and also make it different from the default black.
Also in this area was a special photo booth sited on a mirrored plinth and flanked by mirrored pillars, all finished with LED tape for a gentle glow, bringing a contemporary twist to a classic party piece. This was also a great example of scenic and technical elements being integrated which is one of Maestra’s strengths being both a design house and a technical supplier.
The first upstairs area entered by guests was Bar 1, which evolved as a boudoir like space with soft tones, dusky pinks, purples and reds, tungsten warmth and leopard print flooring.
An eye-catching centrepiece was created using a large ‘shattered’ mirror ball on a floor mounted plinth, complete with a beautiful orchid display, specially designed by Rob van Helden. The plinth was surrounded by banquette seating and more leopard print carpet in deco-style lines.
A panelled wall was hand painted by scenic artists commissioned by Jason and comfortable day-bed type sofas with swagged drapes graced the periphery of the room complimented with chandeliers hanging in the ceiling.
Lighting – a combination of Robe LEDBeam 100s and LEDWash 600s – were installed down the sides of the room on ground supported truss, and Robe Pointes fitted with custom ‘Ciroc’ gobos (for sponsor Ciroc vodka) beamed onto the bar area.
Lighting was crucial to bringing this and all the other rooms alive and completing the atmospheric touches. Around 150 CORE ColourPoint up-lighters were used around the building, skimming up walls, panels and drapes.
Sound from the PA in the Club Room was fed into distributed d&b systems in both bars.
This hosted the main DJ and dancefloor, and revellers were treated to a live set by singer / songwriter Dua Lipa.
The blue glitter dancefloor oozed classy bling, juxtaposed with the gold leafed stage fascia. Behind the stage was a cool blue Austrian drape, and Lamex high-shine wall panels were slotted in behind the bespoke seating in a fusion of moody modernism. Raised seating opposite the stage was trimmed with inbuilt LED lights for an extra layer of depth and dimension.
A 1.5 metre gold mirror ball above the dancefloor boosted the glitz and worked in perfect visual harmony with the shimmering dancefloor.
Lighting was rigged on a discreet ground supported box truss that started from behind the stage and came out over the seating area, rigged with Robe LEDBeam 100s, LEDWash 600s and Martin Atomic 3000 strobes, together with 6w RGB lasers and single colour blue beam lasers, all operated via a Chamsys MagicQ MQ100 console.
A d&b Y series line array PA ensured a clean high fidelity sound with plenty of power, utilizing a combination of Y8 and Y12 speakers plus eight Y-SUBS - the sub count was upped this year - all mixed via a DiGiCo SD10 console
The main special set piece in here was an 8 metre wide by 7 metre high feature wall behind the bar which was built by Maestra, and for which Jenny created a striking image working with a scenic artist briefed by Jason. She took an original hand painted panel and collaged it in Photoshop to create a totally exclusive graphic effect.
An illuminated Warner ‘lozenge’ was hung in front of this and below, supported by mirrored back bar tiles, was a CIROC light-bulb sign, manufactured to fit precisely in with a collection of Ciroc magnum bottles.
This room included vast palm trees either side of the bar and lots of custom covered baffles and screens around the catering and technical areas which were matched to the rest of the décor rather than being standard black utilitarian surfaces .. such was the level of detail and finishing required by the client.
“It was all the hundreds of small touches like these as well as all the big bold statement features that helped create the magic” says Aisha.
As with any VIP area, the space exuded opulence and desirability as guests entered down a leopard print floor corridor lined with heavy black velour drapes.
With Jason’s design in mind, retro record players and other vinyl relics were scattered around the room giving the impression of an old indie record shop / lounge … with more leopard print – a featured look for this year - on the floor.
Maestra had some enormous fake loudspeakers manufactured which were ensconced in the seating bays, complete with a weathered brown-gold finish and a little brass metal Warner lozenge in the corner.
The dramatic 4 metre high drapes in the window alcoves added a really luxurious touch.
The sofas popped out in contrasty mustard yellow velour with tasselled trim, with the DJ booth dressed to impress with a mustard coloured wrap and bamboo trellis panels. The room was populated with lots of props including lamps. A copper mirror ball above the DJ booth was lit with an old-skool pin spot look for a vintage disco-ball appearance.
Another d&b sound system was distributed around the room, concealed amongst the props. All the windows in the building were sound proofed this year to ensure that noise was contained.
Maestra started on the preparation in December, an intense process to facilitate these standards of detail, involving painstaking research and a lot of time to source all the fabrics and materials needed for props, furniture, etc.
“It’s about seeing a big picture and communicating well, so that multiple disciplines are all working together right from the start” says Jenny who produced numerous illustrations and plans.
On site, Aisha’s scheduling skills were invaluable as carpenters, set, cabling, décor, lighting and sound, etc. all needed to be installed in a specific order. Another key was planning so that departments could maximise their ‘down’ time and were never in a position of waiting for another team to finish.
The get in started on Monday evening with a pre-rig of the entrance structure, then work continued full tilt 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. on the Tuesday and 6 a.m. until 9 p.m. showtime on the Wednesday of the Brits, which was staged at London’s O2 Arena. The Warner Music event finished at 3 a.m. and the get-out commenced immediately. They were clear of the venue by lunchtime Thursday!
Maestra was assisted on site by locals from Connections Crew who were “Fantastic and a real pleasure to work with” says Aisha.
Justin Hammond, Managing Director of Maestra London commented, “It is brilliant to be able to work with a client like Jason and Warner Music who set the bar so high … and to rise to the challenge of delivering this extremely prestigious event. I’m very proud of the synergy and teamwork that converged to produce some truly exceptional results.”