Celebration Simulation

The Sample Studios at HMR Designs

Selling Dreams
Most prospective buyers wouldn’t dream of making an important purchase without trying it on for size or taking it for a spin. We personally feel that an event should be no different.

Thanks to our Sample Studios and the industrious trio running them, it doesn’t have to be. In fact, almost as impressive as seeing an event itself is seeing how impeccably a condensed replica of it is created beforehand.

Parties just passing through. Above: a glimpse into the studio during a sample of the fashion-inspired Bat Mitzvah at Chicago Botanic Garden, seen below:
Photo courtesy of Fandl Photography

Inside our floral studio, behind an unassuming set of doors lies our sample studios, a 24’x 60’ blank canvas that is perpetually embellished, lit up, furnished and then wiped clean again, ready to accommodate whatever is coming next. To find the sample studios absent of activity is a rarity, and their role in both the design and sales processes is crucial.

The studio and floral teams, busily preparing for a sample.

Venture into the studio and you’ll find Glenn, a 37 year veteran of sample creation; Gustavo, currently in his 13th year; and Carlos, who joined them 2 years ago after 4 years on the warehouse team. “I truly enjoy what I do,” Carlos shared. “These two steadily teach me. There is so much to learn all the time.”

Celebration simulators, L to R: Gustavo, Carlos (seated) and Glenn. Photo courtesy of Kent Drake Photography.

A highly detail-oriented crew, each of them not only brings a wide-ranging set of mechanical skills, they also have a keen eye for design. “It’s not just about setting up materials,” explained Glenn, “it’s duplicating an entire atmosphere that someone has in their mind.”

Few are better suited to the task, after all: they build an average of 3 samples daily. “It’s nice to know our opinion is valued,” added Carlos. “ 9 times out of 10, when we make a suggestion, the sales team goes with it. That makes us know we’re doing something right.”

A custom bar lights up the studio, complete with fabricated latticework and an organically designed tree.
An impressive precursor to a truly luxe affair at the Hotel Intercontinental (below).


Photo courtesy of Kent Drake Photography
Cool, icy elegance in the studio (above) and The Four Seasons (below).
Photo courtesy of Kent Drake Photography.

Around the world in a day
The studio may build anywhere from 1-5 samples a day. What is perhaps equally as remarkable as the care and attention to detail that is paid to each sample is how suddenly a new, equally elaborate one replaces the last. “Sometimes I don’t even realize how much we really are doing in here,” noted Gustavo. “It really is something.”

Celebration chameleon: the many faces of the Sample Studios.

This is where the experience of the crew really counts. “In the studio, its all about timing,” explained Gustavo. “Of course you need to understand how to build things, but also the vision of the design. There’s no time to mess around.”

It’s no easy feat, either, depending on the scope of the final product. “We’re taking BIG visions and downsizing them,” said Carlos. “We have to adapt to make it work in the space and time that we have.”

A stunning and colossal affair at Navy Pier (below) was first brought to life on a much smaller scale.
Photo courtesy of Jai Girard.
Glenn makes final adjustments to preview of the striking room seen below (Photo courtesy of Tim Walters Photography).

ConstructED sets and ConstructIVE criticism
In addition to their keen eye for design, the sample team is also highly adaptable. “Design is subjective,” said Glenn. “It’s all in the eye of the beholder. So we all need to be skilled at constructive criticism–giving and receiving.”

They are also determined to please–both the design team and clients alike. They must pay attention to everyone’s responses, and think on their feet. Years of experience has allowed them to sharpen an array of skills, as well. Gustavo, for example, mentioned a new affinity for branching, greenery, and canopy design.

Branching out: the Studio team hones their floral, branching and canopy-design skills.
All in a day’s work. A sampling of the mock up teams’ varied skills: A custom floral tie back and a miniature fabricated dancefloor.

When asked if it bothered him if his efforts are immediately taken apart, Glenn answered simply, “Oh no. Never that. The only thing that bothers me is if it’s not perfect. So I never let that happen.”

In closing, what is perhaps most noticeable about this particular team is their ability to accommodate and work beside almost every other team in the house. And perhaps they do so because they are just as aware as everyone else of their essentiality. All 3 mentioned the sense of accomplishment they feel bringing designers’ ideas to life and bringing smiles to clients’ faces.

The finished product is a configuration of every team in the house,” noted Glenn (of samples). “It’s pretty impressive how it all comes together.”

Indeed it is.

Thanks to Glenn, Gustavo and Carlos for their contributions, and for being awesome.