I have my answer! I have my answer! I’m walking on air!
As our party forecast revealed, 2019 will be a stellar year for hosting and attending parties. Could there be a better way to mark the “eve” of the new Roaring Twenties? To inspire your party planning, we asked seven of the nation’s top event designers to reveal the entertaining trends for 2019, including what’s in and what’s out. With a focus on sustainable foods, gin, the color coral, and high-tech lighting, this year’s parties promise to have all the glamour, insouciance, and joie de vivre that paved the way for America’s first Jazz Age nearly a century ago.
Known for designing eye-popping events that double as art installations, David Stark, the founder of Brooklyn-based David Stark Design and Production, has created landmark events for Brad Pitt, Mariska Hargitay, Louis Vuitton, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Robin Hood Foundation, the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Awards, and Hemmerle, among others.
Photo via With Food and Love
According to David, “The speakeasy was the social response to the Prohibition era, and it’s currently striking a chord as a favorite party theme in these discordant times. This year, look for speakeasy-themed parties that feature a secret password for entry, live jazz, bathtub gin, a modern take on flapper fashion, and a swingin’ photo booth featuring period props. Also, sweet, sugary specialty cocktails with kitschy names will be replaced by drinks made with surprising ingredients, such as mushrooms and turmeric, which is already hitting the coffee world hard. Vegetable cocktails, as well as elevated mocktails, will also be a big focus in 2019, and menus will delve into food and drink pairings like never before. Sustainable foods will be a focus, and we’ll see dinner menus that experiment with three or four courses that are entirely vegetarian.”
Bryan Rafanelli of Rafanelli Events, which has offices in New York, Boston, and Palm Beach, has decorated New York’s Gracie Mansion for the past two holiday seasons and oversaw the holiday décor at the White House during the Obama administration. He is also the go-to event designer for clients, including Chelsea Clinton and three-time Salonniere 100 honoree, Sara Ruffin Costello.
Photo via Bryan Rafanelli
Says Bryan, “In 2019, we’ll see a renewed emphasis on sophisticated hosting traditions and table settings, but with a warm and modern twist. Calligraphed name cards and modern silver pieces, whether coffee sets or serving trays, will provide the perfect ways to elevate any soirée. Orchid centerpieces will also be popular because they offer a contemporary, yet classic aesthetic that can provide polish to any party look. Also look for a rekindled interest in formal cocktail parties as hosts delight in a fresh, new take on the simplicity and elegance of entertaining.”
Colin Cowie considers client and Salonniere 100 honoree Oprah Winfrey one of the best party hosts of all time, so it’s no surprise that his prescription for the perfect party is equal parts warmth, thoughtfulness, and intimacy, along with a heavy dose of glam.
Photo via Colin Cowie
According to Colin, “This year, the hottest color in entertaining will be coral, Pantone’s Color of the Year. We’ll see it mixed with sapphire and indigo and matte and rose gold. We’ll also see a heavy focus on sustainable foods and vegan menus. It will be all about provenance and letting your guests know that the eggs were gathered this morning from the such-and-such farm. Regarding cocktails, look for craft cocktails that focus on gin, which is the new vodka. Lighting will also be a very hot trend this year, as sophisticated effects that used to be cost-prohibitive become more accessible. Instagram will remain a key way to share party photos, but because privacy is the new luxury, look for more hosts to request that their events be social-media free.”
Bronson van Wyck, co-founder of Van Wyck & Van Wyck, bills himself as “born to party, forced to work,” but the lines are blurred when his work means planning parties for the likes of Gwyneth Paltrow, Martha Stewart, Calvin Klein, Vera Wang, and several U.S. presidents. His ability to mix work and play was on epic display at his recent birthday bash on the island of Mykonos.
Photo via Van Wyck & Van Wyck
Says Bronson, “This year’s best parties will take their cues from Cleopatra—they’ll feature grand entrances and exits. Whether small, large, formal, or informal, entertaining in 2019 will be defined by major moments and high-low glam. The food truck trend has come and gone, so look for fried chicken on silver platters and sliced steak on fine china served butler-style straight from the kitchen to the table. As for drinks, this year will be all about the libation-education pairing—for example, a tasting bar with different Mezcal flights so guests can learn which they like best. Regarding décor, everything will be layered, cozy, and comfortable, and 16th- and 17th-century Dutch still-life paintings will inspire our floral designs. Video mapping will also be popular, with hosts projecting images of a starry night on walls to give their guests an alfresco dining experience when they’re indoors. Personalization will be another important trend, with everything from hand-painted place cards to custom messages on dessert plates. Anything that’s one-of-a-kind will bring hosts plenty of Instagram love.”
Hailed by Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar as one of the best event designers in the world, Marcy Blum, the founder of New York’s Marcy Blum Associates, has created spectacular soirées for clients, including Kyra Sedgwick and Kevin Bacon, Nate Berkus and Jeremiah Brent, Katie Lee, and Savannah and LeBron James.
Photo via Marcy Blum
Marcy predicts, “This year, the best parties will either be very small and informal or completely over-the-top and white-tie. Color will be everywhere. This is, after all, the era of Mary Poppins Returns. So look for lots of bright and pastel colors and the end to “greige” color schemes. Even events that are incredibly formal will have a sense of whimsy, almost bordering on the surreal. Cocktails will be wilder and weirder than ever before, with lots of high-tech flourishes and things that bubble and squeak. Flowers will appear not as arrangements but as giant décor statements, such as a Lucite table with a floral underlay or a dramatic flower ceiling. Gone, however, is the flower wall that has been part of so many Instagram moments over the last few years, but the photo booth will remain popular forever.”
Los Angeles-based event designer David Pressman, whose clients include Daisy Fuentes and Richard Marx and Cindy Crawford and Rande Gerber, always keeps images of actor Robert Mitchum and Cary Grant on his mood boards. Says Pressman, “Mitchum’s cool, laid-back attitude and Grant’s leading man elegance represent the rakish charm that is so important in entertaining.”
Photo via David Pressman
David says, “In 2019, parties will be smaller—so dinner for eight in your home or 100 people instead of 300 at a large gathering—but the focus will be on elegance and having the best of everything. That means live music and save the food stations for bar mitzvahs and birthday parties. Sit-down dinners will feature an amuse-bouche and plenty of courses, with the chef coming to the table to talk about the food-and-wine pairings. Sustainability will be a strong trend in everything from food to flowers. I love what floral designer Eric Buterbaugh has been doing with succulents and live plants, and we’re going to see that trend spread across the country. This year, parties will hit all the senses. Look for deep colors, beautiful blush tones, and gorgeous pastels like the shades that can be seen on museum walls, as well as lighting that makes a strong statement, whether through an abundance of candles or interesting projections.”
Debi Lilly, the Chicago-based owner of A Perfect Event, counts Oprah Winfrey and Lady Gaga among her many clients, which may explain why A Star Is Born is her current design “muse.”
Photo by Amanda Miller for A Perfect Event
According to Debi, “In 2019, the most significant entertaining trend will be settings that are casual, inviting, and wrap you up in a big blanket of beauty and love. Also this year, small will be big—small plates, small bites, petite sweets, and little sips. Guests love to see and taste something new and unexpected, so “surprise and delight” will be the name of the game. For cocktails, that means sparkling sangria, rosé Palomas, and margarita paletas. For décor, we’ll see bold patterns, like bright florals, vintage wallpaper-style linens, and patterned tableware. It will bring warmth and happiness, which is why the two hottest colors for the year will be mustard yellow, which reminds us of the sun, and Living Coral, Pantone’s Color of the Year, which you’ll see in abundance in peonies and other florals.”
And here are a few more stories that we think you’ll enjoy:
Stellar Parties: An Astrological Guide to Entertaining in 2019
A Guide to Picking the Perfect Party Flowers
The Salonniere’s Fête-Planning Checklist
Party Lighting: 10 Tips for Creating a Glamorous Space
Designing Your Home for Entertaining: 10 Top Interior Designers Weigh In
Entertaining Trends in 2019
Welcome Photo and Quote Mashup
Welcome Photo: Doris Day
Welcome Quote: Hannah and Her Sisters, 1986