A Corporate World

Thinking of our company and its capabilities as a family, weddings are the obvious golden child. No one can stop talking about how beautiful they are. Our website and social media channels offer up photographs of them like a boastful parent would their firstborn.

And while our weddings surely deserve this high praise, our family has several other pretty impressive “children,” so to speak.

Chihuly party HMR Designs
Glamour and glass: a Chihuly-inspired soiree in Orlando.
Clinton Global Initiative Gala at Field. HMR Designs
Luxe lounge groupings span the length of the Field Museum at a gala for the Clinton Global Initiative. Photo by Kent Drake

Corporate Events (the slightly more modest but equally celebratory brother) actually account for nearly half of all of the events we design each year. And while there is seldom a weekend without an array of weddings, corporate events go off without a hitch nearly every single day, through every single season. The volume alone is worth noting.

David Epstein, Corporate Event Director, HMR Designs, Chicago
Photo by Kent Drake

In order to learn a little more about the anatomy of a corporate shindig, we caught up with our Corporate Event Director, David Epstein, who’s been designing and orchestrating first-rate affairs for two decades.

Stacking up the Stakes

Industry professionals know that the emotional stakes at a wedding can indeed be off the charts: it’s personal, right down to the dollars being spent. And while companies and organizations’ events might not hold quite the personal significance, they look to us to launch their brand, to showcase their skills, to celebrate their milestones, and to convene with their partners or clients: things that matter as much to business as love does to a marriage. Perhaps that’s why we take their reputations as seriously as we do our own; we know what it’s like to be a company, after all.

GE signage HMR Designs Adler Planetarium
Custom signage and focals made by HMR help GE promote their railroad division at the Adler Planetarium.
Moonlight Studios HMR Designs buffet table
Lit up: A posh buffet table awaits guests at Moonlight Studios’ launch party. Photo by Kent Drake

Knowing that his clients entrust their image in his hands, David’s stakes are high for innovation. “You cannot follow a formula, however often you get the same requests,” he notes. Just as with a wedding, he must constantly and consistently create new ways of executing similar concepts. “There are endless ways to accomplish similar goals.” And even though themes can be similar, the spaces, the people, the objectives, and challenges are never alike. Perhaps it’s this lack of monotony that explains why David’s car is often the first in HMR’s parking lot each morning.

HMR Designs Corporate Signage
Top: A re-creation of CEC’s lobby focal for an awards ceremony for the company
Bottom: A custom-built entryway welcomes attendees to the Miami Superbowl.
Park West HMR Designs
Above: Mind-bending entryway design, and (below)  David’s take on Wonderland at the Park West for an Alice-themed event. Photos by Phil Farber.

Park West HMR Designs

corporate signage, HMR Designs
Clockwise from left: Unique seating on a tradeshow floor at McCormick Place; The Auto Show celebrates the Chinese New Year; A Chicago (the musical) inspired evening.

Executive Decisions
David’s design style is impacted by knowing just how key it is for an event to make an impression. His clients look to him to decide how to best work within the parameters of a budget, and luckily, he’s very adept at doing so. He often creates large-scale, signature pieces to capture guests’ attention, especially with high volume events where there might be as many as 2,000 attendees to wow.

El Tracks, HMR Designs, corporate events
Elevated design: A local company invited guests to dine beneath a custom wood replica of the El tracks.
HMR Designs corporate Wheels
A local fleet company celebrates a milestone with authentic props and inspiring signage.
HMR Designs corporate, Navy Pier
Logistically sound design: Unique woven fabric was chosen to adhere to fire code in the creation of this focal tower at Navy Pier.

While the intricate details of a cocktail table arrangement might not be at the forefront of his design, this is not to say details are lost on David. Logistic, thematic, and spatial twists and turns abound with corporate affairs, and the balance between these considerations and his own creativity are what keep him interested.

This continued interest, in turn, has bought him a sense of calm that is invaluable to his work.
“I don’t really get rattled anymore,” he notes. “Even when the sky is falling, I know there’s always a solution.”

HMR Designs corporate, stage design, Havana
Setting the stage: an amber-toned, Havana-inspired evening.

In the end, some of the more difficult parts of David’s job are indeed what he loves most. For David, he knows that the care and effort devoted to his events not only puts his clients’ minds at ease, but also is the very thing that allows all of the many pieces to fall so systematically into place.

Special thanks to David for his contributions. It’s a treat to talk to someone who genuinely loves what they do.