Of everyone I have come across and gotten to know in the special events industry, King Dahl is one of those rare people of whom I can honestly say I am in awe. It’s not just the amazing design that simply continues to flow freely from him. It's also the fact that King is one of the most genuinely nice and kind people that I have ever met. He epitomizes everything that I strive to be as a person, as a friend and most importantly as a designer.
DesignDawg, AOO Events
The Evolution of a Masterwork: Gilded Earth
By King Dahl
When my good friend David asked me to “run with the pack” of DesignDawgs, I was ecstatic! As someone whose design sensibilities and expressive event designs I’ve admired for years, the opportunity to share a few ideas with Dave’s readers and fans of AOO Events is something very special to me. As a designer, my lifestyle has always been influenced by freethinking artists, designers, and musicians in every creative discipline. Call it modern, avant-garde, experimental; anything that expands traditional thinking and pushes beyond the mainstream is to me, a source of inspiration and illumination!
Masterworks all begin with an initial idea, only to evolve and take shape as they are worked over and molded into finished pieces that touch the soul. They evoke feelings inside each one of us in a unique way. We’re moved by the convergence of color, form, rhythm, and sensuality. Someone who understands this convergence so well is the creative leader of the amazing MGM MIRAGE Events floral team, George Catechis. His floral artistry is superb, and can only be matched by his mind-blowing painting and sculpture.
As in all art, conceptualizing truly unique event environments involve the same principles and ingredients -- color, form, rhythm, and sensuality -- they are ever-present. But all too often, even the best event ideas flitter away after the event ends, never having the opportunity to be experienced again.
My team and I are passionate about the entire creative process. When we have the opportunity to embrace a look and allow a concept to evolve over the course of multiple events, something magical happens!
Gilded Earth + New Year's Eve
Recently we’ve been playing with a new aesthetic we refer to as “Gilded Earth.” Something we are so excited about we have infused it into four different events shown here. The essence of Gilded Earth is a melding of classic woodland forms, natural elements and contemporary styles. The result is organic and opulent – as timeless as it is modern, as familiar as it is imaginative.
Originally conceived for MGM Grand’s magnificent New Year's Eve Gala, the artistic approach was inspired by the featured performer, Sarah Brightman. After studying the artist's history, music, and on-stage persona, we found a consistent theme of earthy, natural elements throughout. We also discovered her personal commitment to the environment. All are aspects that colored our approach to the design experience.
Images of the event space, beautifully captured by Dahl Photographers, show 180 individual table centerpieces created with hefty segments of tree trunks with their original cuts and angles, straight from the forest floor. Each one was completely unique, with the floral design dictated by the natural lines and curvature of the tree material. These natural centerpieces were juxtaposed with stunning metallic-gold sparkle velvet linens from Cloth Connection and encircled with place settings from Unique Tabletops and Chameleon Chairs.
Nature inspired the design from floor to ceiling. Overhead, five chandeliers – ranging in diameter from 30 to 50 feet – were created using billows of natural-fiber fabric that was hand-cut to resemble voluminous, ornate cobwebs. Form was as important as function, as these chandeliers also served to suspend Entertainment Director, Barry Morgan’s aerial dancers as they performed throughout the evening.
Extensive theatrical lighting cast a warm glow across the event space. MGM Grand Productions artfully pin-spotted the tables from 40 feet above to keep the guests' eye-lines directed downward.
Gilded Earth + Vegas Uncork'd
Kelly McKeon documented this next feature on a more intimate scale. I was quite honored to be asked to augment the culinary artistry of top chefs at Bellagio. The Vegas Uncork’d Gala, sponsored by Bon Appetit Magazine, featured incredible courses from Todd English and Isaac Carter, Michael Mina and Anthony Amoroso, Julian Serrano, Akira Back, Robert Moore, and Jean-Philippe Maury. Wines from Southern Wine and Spirits of Nevada exquisitely paired by Master Sommelier, Jason Smith. A menu fit for the heavens!
To complement the fresh, organic ingredients used in these delicacies, all-natural furniture was designed with hand-carved tree stumps. Paying strict attention to our planet’s resources, all of the wood used is reclaimed from the forest floor of the Northern Sierras during fire clearing, so the environmental impact is zero. To merge the worlds of nature and upscale chic, we brought in a “new life” by gilding many of the wooden elements with gold and platinum. Forklifts and palette jacks have to be used to position these oversized set pieces, many weighing several hundred pounds!
Gilded Earth + Morocco
Gilded Earth + Art Nouveau Garden