Starlite Productions of Cherry Hill, New Jersey helped ignite the spark at the 52nd annual Promax/BDA Conference held at the Hilton New York earlier this summer.

Starlite’s lighting designer/production coordinator, John Andraka, and video coordinator, Ryan Altschul, assisted in creating a distinct mood for designer Larry Abel’s “Networking Village,” which put an innovative spin on the traditional trade show floor setting.

The three-day event brought marketers, promoters, and designers together to discuss the future of branding concepts within a growing industry. Guest speakers—former President William J. Clinton, filmmaker John Waters, and fashion icon Kenneth Cole—all emphasized the importance of capturing and sustaining the attention of an audience through novel marketing strategies in today’s society. “In a conference where the theme is standing out and being heard, and where the majority of attendees are comprised of artists and designers, Larry Abel sought to deliver an experiential environment like none other, where vendors and guests alike could congregate, relax, and share their thoughts,” Andraka says.

One of the biggest obstacles Abel desired to overcome was having exhibitors and guests walking through the trade show floor only once without returning. “We had a lot of exhibitors that wanted to interact with the guests and a lot of conferences coming in from all over the country,” Abel explains. While the room’s perimeter was draped in white juxtaposed with abstract three dimensional spandex scenery, Abel’s design separated the large space into several smaller, yet more intimate lounge areas where guests or exhibitors could check their emails with the addition of an Internet café or just simply congregate. Vendor booths were created using a combination of drape and spandex walls. And attempting to pique attendee interest, a bar and DJ booth were also implemented into the design. “We made a lot of reasons for people to come back and it became almost like a little town,” notes Abel.

Eliminating harsh overhead lighting, which usually accompanies traditional trade show floors, was also something both Starlite and Abel kept in mind. They aspired to create a certain sense of character for the room through subdued ambiance. To achieve this effect, eight Six Bars adept with ETC Source Four Pars were mounted onto 15’ truss towers all ground supported around the room’s perimeter. Thirty-eight ETC Source Four ERS fixtures of varying degrees were used for specials and to splash pointed/line break-ups onto the surrounding drapes and scenery. Sixty Color Kinetics ColorBlast 12 LED units served a dual purpose—they illuminated the spandex scenery while also acting as truss toners. A single High End Systems Hog IPC controlled the overall lighting management. “They [both] offered great flexibility and made it especially easy to change the mood and look of the entire room,” Andraka says.

Since the event spanned three days, relatively simple modifications were a must in order to alter the general atmosphere when needed. According to Andraka, eight High End Systems Studio Spot 250s mounted to vertical truss towers helped easily transition the room from day to night. “They created slow moving pattern effects on the ceiling during the day when the space was in “networking” mode and provided club-like lighting for events held in the same space in the evening,” he explains.

Although Starlite’s main focus consisted of lighting design, the company also implemented additional video and stage elements. Fifty-inch NEC Plasma Monitors created a three-by-three video wall displaying media content. At the “Networking Village” entrance, Starlite assembled a truss arch with Tomcat 12”x12” box truss to support four 42” promotional plasma screens. The company also provided twenty-four Staging Concepts 4’x 8’ Stage Decks with H-frames to be used in conjunction with the main ballroom’s existing platform.