Tips of the Icebergs: Exploring our Capabilities

the depARTment

While our designs may be the center of attention, each member of our team takes focus in their own department behind the scenes. As a team, we truly value the talent and skill that each department brings. Seeing the photos of our events is really only the tip of the iceberg, after all, so let this be the first of many glimpses under the surface as we showcase our capabilities, and the artistic talent standing proudly behind our decor.



Behind our (super stylish) sales offices is a (super extensive) 150,000 square foot production facility–a well-oiled machine, indeed. So let’s journey into our Art Department this week, where concepts become sculpturally and visually essential elements to our parties.

Carmelo Samano, Mike Sorrentino and their team specialize in the design and creation of made-to-order props and stage backgrounds, custom painting, signage and large scale printing. Armed with x-acto knives, pencils, rulers, and steady hands, some pretty amazing visual displays are brought to life at their work tables.

sampleofprops col
a custom cellophane ceiling, a stage backdrop of handmade paper floral, an orange facade: all creations out of our Art Department.


You won’t find pre-manufactured props on the shelves of the Art Department, but rather materials to make custom creations. This is part of the reason we can take so much pride in our events: each party is its own entity, so there are endless opportunities for innovation.

The Art Department, along with our graphic designers, works closely with the Event Design Team to create and adjust the concepts that are the basis for their work, and from there they must use their expertise for the building process. Custom signage such as this one, created by Mike, is the first in a series of templates he’ll make before the design is finalized.

From concept to creation: custom signage

a MATERIAL world.

The materials chosen for a project are dictated by the style, aesthetic, and scope of each event. One of the most common types of materials employed by the Art Department is, perhaps surprisingly, foam core, in various forms. You might not know just what foam can do, so have a look at some spectacular props utilizing foam:

 ferris hanging

Because of its light weight, foam core aided in the construction of these custom ferris wheel cars, and their ability to rock, effortlessly, within their spinning steel frames above Stanley Field Hall at the Field Museum

ferris COL construc

 Click here to see a short clip of the wheels spinning.


Styro-carving by skilled and careful hands can yield the perfect shape, and the perfect environment and texture for attaching floral. This gorgeous wedding and exclusive mitzvah, both designed by Rishi Patel feature avian-floral at its finest.

An aisle apart. Nathan Edmunds Photography
Birds of a man-made paradise. Kent Drake Photography

For this gala designed by Bill Heffernan, the design inspiration was the work of artist Roy Lichtenstein. Carmelo created the original prototype for this design using foam core shards. This design was then replicated using plexiglass, mirrors, and an interior lighting system. The design was so striking, it became a template used at subsequent parties, truly a testament to Carmelo’s artistic talent.

Pop Art-inspired design at the Art Institute Chicago. Cindy Fandl Photography

The idea behind this mind-bending bash designed by David Epstein was to turn the Park West upside down with our own take on Wonderland. The Art Department created these psychedelic props using a variety of materials–such as pipe insulation, welded in-house and covered in hand-painted fabric to create structures giant enough (some up to 12 feet!) to make guests feel like they’d fallen into the rabbit hole.


In addition, they used a large scale printing appliqué for background and floor scenery.

Constructed fantasies at the Park West. Phil Farber Photo Images

Cardboard and other paper-based materials have also been used–quite innovatively–by the Art Department for eye-catching design elements.

mca focal entry
Photography by Tay

 Custom cardboard cutouts were used to make entrance focals, chandeliers, table tops, centerpieces, and even the dance floor at this edgy benefit at the MCA. also by Bill Heffernan.

Thinking outside the box. Photography by Tay


The walls were also made of paper: folded in Venetian slats and then unraveled.

Photography by Tay

As you can see, the Art Department is such a unique and vital part of our operation. For Carmelo and Mike, it’s all about the processes: the process of seeing two-dimensional images emerge as three-dimensional objects, the process of adaptation and, of course, the learning process of how to best tackle each new project they take on.

So, next time you’re ogling a photograph of a super fabulous celebration, remember that artistic, careful hands at HMR help bring every client vision to life.

Thanks to Mike and Carmelo for their contributions.