Did that centerpiece just ruin the moment?
It's the BIG MOMENT!! The lights in the room lower and soften into a warm, romantic glow. The music smoothly shifts to a slow, romantic mood. And the DJ charmingly announces over the music, "Laaaaadies and gentlemen, it's time for our couple's first dance". Dozens and dozens of smiling and loving eyes turn to towards the dance floor... well, kinda.
I mean, you'd LOVE to see the adorable couple glide across the dance floor but unfortunately, you can't... see... a... thing. And you're not alone. Thanks to centerpieces that weren't "scaled properly", your guest's view is blocked. This is what's known as "Line of sight" and, I'll be honest, it's one of those things I see in events that drive me nuts.
I mean, as an Artist, I can't tell you how fundamentally important it is to understand composition when creating a design. Oh, what is composition? Well, it's the placement of elements in a piece of art and yes, your wedding ceremony, reception, tablescapes, and even centerpieces are pieces of art. At least, I believe they should they should be. When I first began to explore world of weddings it's seemed like Event Design was the only Design field that wasn't really teaching or using artistic processes and principles. That's one of the reasons I started doing event design... oh, wait, let's get back to centerpieces.
The "composition" of your event designs directly effects how we all see and interact with them. And "Line of sight" is the imaginary line or path your eye travels from one point to another when seeing something in the distance. Or, in this case, when looking across a room, across a stage, across a dance floor, or even a table. And a poorly designed centerpiece (remember, the definition of Design is "Form and function") will never consider this simple principle.
So, how do you consider Line of Sight in your Designs?
Well, over the past 14 years I've developed several methods rooted in art over the years for event designs and there are a few different categories of centerpieces (Tall, long, low, etc.), design elements, and design principles but here, I'm going to just focus on centerpieces and the 2 areas to considering when design for Line of sight. Scale and Form. You see, centerpieces can be made from all types of materials, flowers, candles, and so on and although the types of materials used in creating a centerpiece can be important in design, we'll have to look at the form first. I like to break down the shape of centerpieces into 3 forms.
Form is the shape and this may also include the density, dimensions, and structure of the shape. Since were are talking about blocking someone's vision let's consider the mass of the design and how it takes up space. Let's look at 3 types of structural forms:
Dense or Solid (this will be the part of the centerpiece you can't see through)
Translucent or Loose (there may be elements you can see between or around)
Negative Space, Clear, or Open (Not blocking your view, no problem seeing through or around)
When an artist refers to scale they're usually referring to the "size" of a piece of artwork. Here, let's look specifically at the height. To insure the mass of the centerpiece isn't blocking the line of sight the bulk of the form should be...
Tall Centerpieces: With mass starting at 28" above the table (Ex: at least a 28" tall vase or riser)
Low Centerpieces: The top of the centerpiece should be less than 10 to 12" (approximately the length between your elbow and wrist)
Medium Centerpieces: Consider designs that feature either Negative space or Loose mass. (Ex. candle sticks, clear vessels, branches, narrow vases, etc.)
Do you see the formula? First, look at the "form" (style, type and density of materials) then consider the scale. And when looking at the "scale", consider not only how big the centerpiece will be but also how they'll be created including the type of vases, container being used.
That's it! No more heads awkwardly bobbing up and down and all around the table to see what's going on. No guests standing, or worse, trying to move the centerpiece out of the way during speeches. Yep, these principles are a few of the pro steps that change the look of your table design, room, and even your guest's experience. And believe me, they'll thank you!
So, are there any other design questions you have? Are you interested in more ways to merge pro art and design techniques into your event design? If so just let me know. I'd love to help!
Until then, cheers and... happy planning!!