David Merrell, AOO Events’ CEO and creative director, let us in on some of the top trends in the event industry. Food and beverage still reigns supreme, but now it’s all about the display.

In 1989, Merrell started AOO Events in Los Angeles and for over 25 years has put his philosophy— “all special events truly demand a customized approach in order to fully achieve the client’s vision and purpose”—to use worldwide. AOO Events specializes in event design and show production with home base in Los Angeles. Merrell himself has also spoken at national and international conferences on business, design and event branding and marketing as well as served on numerous industry boards, giving him bragging rights as a spokesperson for trends in the industry. www.aooevents.com   

Meetings Today: What are the top trends you’re seeing this year?
David Merrell: Paying more attention to food and beverage experiences, such as using interactive buffets and creative ways food is prepared, like being plated or finished in front of the “audience.”

Both mobile and non-mobile vertical buffets are popular, especially in smaller spaces. Some examples are carousel buffets and doughnut walls. These are cool and different ways to serve food and can be branded as well.

MT: What about other design and decor trends?  
DM: Geometric patterns are big right now, such as using large Lego blocks to build tables, walls and even seating. Mixed patterns are also on trend now. Plaid is coming back as are floral patterns. Also, using mixed metals to create a glitz and glam feel is big. And not just with linens, but with furniture, and we’re even seeing this in the food, like cakes with metallic frosting.

MT: Any changes you’re seeing in the industry that are reflected in event design?
DM: Corporations are booking and doing smaller events and understand the value of people connecting. We are seeing smaller, breakout group seating versus a sea of tables. There are also more requests for a Royal Table, which is one long table ideal for serving family-style.

MT: As the weather warms up, what tips or ideas do you have to execute events in outdoor spaces?
DM: Anything that combines indoor elegance with the outdoor venue space. Hanging vintage glass chandeliers from trees is one example.