When planning a corporate event, it’s important to consider a lot of different aspects and to make sure they work together in perfect harmony. On one hand, there are a number of strictly professional requirements that should be met, so that both the organisers and the attendees can achieve their respective goals. On the other hand, there is a human aspect that needs to be considered: each event has moments that are not strictly devoted to work and that should be turned into opportunities for pleasure, entertainment, relaxation, and sharing. This is the aspect we focused on with our latest event for our long-term client Smashbox – a branch of the Estee Lauder Group. For a two-day meeting in Venice, we were asked to provide the entertainment for the evening of the main event and to make it unique, special and unforgettable.
Stepping back in time for a fancy-dress party!
When we think of a “typical Venetian dinner” our imagination can go two ways. Most people would rightly think of a formal dinner, featuring a selection of local delicacies, with the exotic and complex flavours that are typical of an international port. We, on the other hand, like to think big and to let our imagination run wild. That’s why we took our guest to a dinner party in a whole other Venice, a timeless idea of a city, that might have been gone for centuries, but can come back to life for one night – just like it does during the city’s famous Carnival. Our corporate dinner was to take place not just in Venice, but in XVIII Century Venice. We conjured up the magic of a long-gone time of richly-dressed ladies and gallant knights, of outrageous wigs and mysterious masks, of brocades and jewels, in the most romantic and enigmatic city in the world.
The venue: Palazzo Contarini della Porta di Ferro
When planning a corporate event, it is essential to pick the right venue. In this instance, we were particularly happy with the facility we chose. In the heart of the old town, that slice of Venice that, during the day, is usually teeming with tourists from all over the world, lives a secret and intricate universe that few get to experience at night. A maze of alleys and canals spreads like a web, weaving the complex architecture of Venice’s sestrieri – the city’s neighbourhoods – almost constantly flooded with a volume of human traffic that few other cities can match. Palazzo Contarini della Porta di Ferro, however, is located in a secluded corner of the city centre, that most tourists rarely reach and that has kept much of its original magic and authentic flavour. In this XV Century building, it’s still possible to experience the full splendour of the Republic of Venice. Completely refurbished, the mansion has been converted into a corporate event venue.
One of the best things about Venice is that no matter how unusual, bizarre and outlandish your idea is, you will always find someone willing to help you with it. In this case, we found our natural allies in a fashion atelier specialising in XVII Century period costumes, and in an army of stylists and make-up artists, that met our guests at 6 pm in their hotel. After a colourful dress rehearsal, we set out on our journey back in time. With our unique and eclectic caravan of wigged ladies and elegant (and equally wigged) dandies, we went for a walk along the beautiful Venetian calli – which are far less crowded in the evening – stopping every now and then for a group photo on a romantic bridge or to wave at a curious passer-by. Upon arriving at Palazzo Contarini, our guests were welcomed with a cocktail in the garden and then moved to the main hall, where an imperial table was laid for a spectacular dinner. The whole venue was decorated to look exactly like it would have during the golden age of the Serenissima. After dinner, the evening’s only concession to modernity became apparent, in the form of a DJ-set with an open bar that would have puzzled any XVIII Century Venetian, but delighted our guests. It goes without saying that, at the end of the night, our guest were taken back to their hotel by a fleet of gondolas.