Temporary spaces for sponsors at New York’s big Fashion Week event are common; the challenge is bringing them to life in new and exciting ways. Global jewelry buyer Cicra turned to Fashion Week veterans at Mark Stephen Design and Production to turn its tent outside of Lincoln Center into a flexible and memorable event space.
Mark Stephen Design has handled projects at Fashion Week for the past 15 years for a variety of clients, but Circa was a new client for the team. Event manager IMG hired Mark Stephen Design to handle the project, which focused on Circa’s jewelry and accessories.
“Circa wanted to create an exhibit that was very high-end within the tent, and create more of a boutique feel. Throughout the week they featured their jewelry to fashion editors and other guests, and then changed out designers over the course of the week while hosting cocktail receptions in the space,” says Mark Stephen Design and Production ceo Mark Testa.
Every other day over the course of the week, the team changed out the signage and the jewelry so each designer had chance to redo the vestibule that were designed and custom-made for the space. These sleek vestibules were essentially very clean, black floor-to-ceiling Plexiglas boxes lit with LED lighting.
“Circa has their own collection and resells jewelry as well, so at times jewelry with price tags up to $100,000 was displayed in the cases, so it had to be secure,” Testa says.
Each of Circa’s jewelry designers was given the dimensions of the vestibule before the show, so they could do what they wanted within in the display space. One created an orchid-themed display, another used felt as a primary material, others used natural materials such as rocks, and the vestibules reverted back to the Circa theme when they weren’t in use by outside designers.
The Mark Stephen team looked to high-end New York boutiques for design inspiration, such as the Chanel store, and looked at the materials they were using.
“We saw a lot of reflectiveness in the materials, which can be a challenge even from a dust point of view. We also knew the space was only going to be in use for a week, so we went and used mirrored plexi surfaces which resulted in more of a smoky feel,” Testa says. The team had staffers on duty every morning and night dusting every piece in the tent, and keeping an eye on any changes that might be happening.
Large graphics were key for the client, so high-resolution superscale images were an important part of the design. Graphics were arranged for maximum impact. Regardless of which entrance guests entered the tent from, the graphics messaging changed thanks to an accordion-style presentation, with the image changing depending on the viewer’s angle.
Because the event was held inside a tent in February, outside temperature played a huge role in the project. Since the project leveraged higher-end materials that were not typical architectural materials, some properties would react to the temperature change once the heaters were switched on. Elements such as the graphic panels and glues all reacted differently to the cold and heat.
“We had to take some of the heating units that were blowing heat and pull them out of some spaces because they were causing too much reaction from hour to hour, causing things to bubble. Even our vestibules were expanding so we had to actually shave things down over the days just because of the temperature changes,” Testa says.
The 12-by-24 foot space had a 12-foot high hung ceiling, which was suspended from the roof of the tent.
“At some areas the ceiling was 20 feet tall, so we had to hang cable and bring things lower to make it look like a real ceiling. We had electric coming from the ceiling and the floor to power the vestibules depending on where they were located,” Testa says.
The most rewarding part of the Fashion Week grind?
“It’s exciting in the city during Fashion Week. You know it’s one of the biggest things happening in New York. No matter what you’re doing, it’s fun to be a part of it and seeing people react to what you’ve worked on,” Testa says.