Warner Music Grammys Pre-Show Party 2018



Feb 15, 2018

Two of Maestra London’s event production team – Head of Projects Aisha Tarayan and Senior Production Designer Jenny Woollard – took on key creative and technical consulting roles for innovative event designer Jason Morais, who artistically directed Warner Music’s 2018 Grammys pre-show party.

Prior to the actual Grammy Awards Show at Madison Square Gardens, the ideal place to kick off the celebrations was at Manhattan’s Seagram Building – specifically, the site of the former Four Seasons restaurant, which was transformed for the occasion into a unique environment.

The original space, designed by iconic American modernist architect Philip Johnson, has recently been reimagined as two complementary restaurants by the Major Food Group. The Grill is a retro-styled haven for meat lovers, and The Pool is a contemporary eatery catering for seafood aficionados.

The Warner party took over and transformed both of these spaces for their 800 guests, as they prepared for the glamour, glitz and excitement of the Grammys – which returned to New York to celebrate its 60th anniversary, after 15 years of being staged in Los Angeles.

Justin Hammond and his team have worked with Jason for four years, producing and providing full technical production for the Warner Music Brit Awards afterparty at Freemasons Hall in London’s Covent Garden. This successful collaboration has helped make the event one of the highlights of the music industry calendar…and so Jason was asked to reproduce the magic in New York.

The whole event design was based on an ‘unlocking the party’ concept, with keys, locks and associated elements featuring throughout the décor. Together, they evolved the basic aesthetics, look and feel for each of the two rooms, which are connected by a corridor. This included designing set, props and lighting, together with audio, all décor – along with bespoke carpeting, furniture, drapage and soft goods.

They worked closely with Jason’s team in New York, including a production manager who helped co-ordinate the raft of local technical suppliers and deal with the host of administrative requirement areas, such as logistical knowledge.

Jenny and Aisha specified the materials and fine-tuned the finished details of the set pieces, built by fabricators 11th Street Workshop NYC. They also worked on managing all the overall logistics involved in delivering the full technical and scenic infrastructure – together with the crucial supplier scheduling on site. As with all Maestra and Warner events, no time was wasted and the event setup came together like a perfectly built jigsaw puzzle.

The venue entrance featured a cool version of the famous Warner ‘lozenge’ logo, with subtle up-lighting courtesy of metal-clad core battery powered LED fixtures. The lozenge was finished in brushed brass with silver mirrored detailing, and brass rod ‘rays’ around the edge.

Moving upstairs and into The Grill, the space was decked out throughout in striking leopard print carpet, with golden gramophones scattered around: essential details for a Grammys party. A massive 4.5 metre high brass padlock set piece provided a neat solution for the DJ booth.

In the middle of the wall, behind a row of custom green velour banquette seating and other luxurious furniture installed for the event, was another Warner lozenge – this time constructed as a light-box with a pale pink marbled vinyl front, trimmed in polished brass and lit with internal LED sources.

New carpet with key detailing was laid in the connecting corridor, and the multi-level plants that are along one wall were highlighted with a concealed ‘pixel-string’ lighting product fed with video sources.

Moving into The Pool, guests were greeted with a small central stage topped with marble laminate, with gold key patterned cladding around the sides, with gold and brass poles defining each corner.

A rich blue carpet covered the entire floor, with a neat box truss for lighting and audio kit flown above. Dozens of colourful gobos were projected around the floor and walls of the room. A surprise guest appearance by New York rapper, Cardi B, delighted everyone and really got the party started!

Special banquette seating was fitted around the room’s perimeter. Brass and mirror detailing was added to the huge back bar together with a similar style Warner lozenge to that in the entranceway.

Jenny and Aisha started work on the project in November for the event at the end of January, so the pace was intense. A short site visit six weeks ahead of the show allowed them to meet all US-based suppliers and ensure that everything was on course to meet Jason’s expectations.

They returned three days ahead of the Grammys to help oversee the operation, which started at 4am on the day, to be ready for a 6pm kick off.  With over 100 crew on site during this time, it was essential that the scheduling was workable and stayed on time as the transformation progressed rapidly.

After the party, The Pool had to be clear and retuned back to its day-to-day functionality by 4am the following morning.

Aisha commented, “Jason always sets the bar high – and we love rising to those challenges! The level of finishing, detail and general excellence required to deliver event environments to his expectations was galvanising, as was working with a completely new set of suppliers and contacts via the local production team! But everyone was very, very good, highly skilled, professional and – obviously – used to working under pressure.

“We engaged in some incredible teamwork, have established some great new contacts and built relationships. All importantly, the results were extremely well-received and the Warner pre-show delivered the highly anticipated buzz, vibe and production values which was the talk of the industry!”

The 2018 Grammys themselves were presented by James Corden and broadcast live on the CBS network. The date was brought forward this year to avoid clashing with the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, and Bruno Mars was the big winner on the night, taking away awards in all six categories for which he was nominated.

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