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Translating art into event ideas13.02.20

There’s a lot that event organisers and designers can learn from the art world. Here at Timebased, we’re constantly drawing inspiration from the creative worlds around us, here’s a roundup of how we translate art concepts into event ideas…


Colours can really affect the ambiance and mood of an event take Rothko’s works, for example. His expansive canvases of bold, block colours are said to evoke a range of moods and feelings of tranquility. As such, we try to consider the colour tones that suit an event or play with contrasting colours to separate different areas of the venue.

In an experiential clothing and homeware preview for River Island, Timebased designed a pop-up house to showcase the various new collections. Each room was painted and styled to fit a collection accordingly, ranging from baby doll pink and dusky greys to electric blue. This allowed the visitors to explore the items whilst they physically explored the space, helping to bring the collections to life.

Textures and materials are also key in communicating the atmosphere of an event. Wood can add warmth, stone and metallics tend to give a sophisticated vibe, whilst carpeted materials can produce a more intimate or playful setting. 

High ceilings with suspended props, draped fabric or balloon canopies, guests can be encouraged to look up and all around


The venue is the blank canvas, and we’re always looking at how we can make the best use of the space. There are various ways that the space can be made to look larger, such as light colours and mirrored walls. By taking advantage of high ceilings with suspended props, draped fabric or balloon canopies, the guests can be encouraged to look up and all around. 

Just like a painting, we’re attentive to what we want the customer’s eye to be drawn to and why. We always aim to position branding in key areas, and feature design installations near the entrance or centre so there’s no chance they’ll be missed by the attendees.



Throughout the 19th century, British landscape painter J.M.W. Turner was known as a master of atmosphere due to his consideration of the light in his paintings. The importance of lighting transfers to events as well. 

Bright, white lighting will give more of a fresh, gallery feel, while low-level lights will create a mood that will probably get your guests mingling and relaxing more. 

Spotlights can be used to emphasize features of the event that should stand out in particular, such as the model displays at the GQ Car Awards or the mannequins at the M&S Press Shows.

Like an artwork, we find it’s generally best to have a mix of well-lit and more shadowy areas at an event, it means that the right mood is there but there’s also enough light for press and guest photos.

When Timebased  were commissioned by Belstaff to launch the new collection with McLaren, the brief was ‘to Bring the collection / collaboration to life through lighting treatment and design of the store.’ We created an atmosphere using neon orange lighting, orange uplighters, moving heads and spotlights to the McLaren cars along with haze machines for smoky car effect.

At the Princes Trust ‘Invest in Futures’ Dinner at Old Billingsgate we worked with Squid Soup to create a wow moment above the dining space. They work with purely with lighting to create engaging and immersive, often digitally enhanced, experiences for audiences.

These finer details won’t go unnoticed — in fact, sometimes it’s what attendees will remember the most vividly


Not everyone understands abstract or conceptual art, but a majority of people can always appreciate the hard work and level of thought that goes into classical works, thanks in part to their precise attention to detail and symbolism.

When we put together an event, we think about how every element ties in together and how we can cleverly make small items a part of the event theme, such as the food and drinks. These finer details won’t go unnoticed — in fact, sometimes it’s what attendees will remember the most vividly.

The food offering was a hugely integral part of the theme for the Knight Frank Summer Party that Timebased organised at the Greenwich Peninsula. The brief was ‘Hong Kong Knights’ and the food formed a huge part of the memory takeaway for the guests.


Fluorescent colours and neon lights have been trending in galleries and on the catwalk lately. Several artists have had us obsessing over neon, including James Turrell, Dan Flavin, Bruce Nauman and Tracey Emin. 

Neons are always visually powerful at an event they’re a great way to add both a pop of colour and an electric atmosphere. For example, for a Hackett x Aston Martin event we produced in 2019, we flooded The Vinyl Factory’s industrial space with striking moving and static lights to capture the energy of iconic racing circuits. The clothing collection was hung from neon green and orange tube rails, illuminating the items and drawing people in.

One of the hottest trends in art at the moment are exhibitions that engage multiple senses


Another one of the hottest trends in art at the moment are exhibitions that engage multiple senses. 180 The Strand has proven to be a fantastic venue for immersive light and sound installations, and interesting, unexpected spaces. Their Other Spaces and Transformer: A Rebirth of Wonder exhibitions were a lesson in how to deliver truly unique experiences. The 360-degree walls of giant LED screens at the latter were a simple yet effective way to transport viewers to another realm.

A guest’s experience of a space could be heightened by removing or strengthening their ability to see, smell or hear. We were inspired by Olafur Eliasson’s sell-out exhibition at the Tate, In Real Life, where visitors were able to walk through a corridor filled with thick fog and nothing but a vague yellow light and the touch of their surroundings to guide them. It was an unforgettable, almost out-of-body experience.

Smell is a sense that is often overlooked at events, but filling a room with the right aromas can really do wonders in improving a guest’s impression of an event. We’ve occasionally pumped fragrant scents into venue spaces to lure visitors in, encouraging their emotional connections and helping to lift the mood.



We like to get artists and performers to produce art live in front of the guests’ eyes — or even enable guests to take part themselves! It’s a fun way to get guests to interact with each other, the products and/or the space.

At the 2019 GQ Car Awards in partnership with Maddox Gallery, Bradley Theodore created a canvas painting of Michelin’s Bibendum on-site at the event. At an M&S press show, we added a DIY bag-customising station to the agenda so the attendees could mingle whilst they designed their M&S accessory. In a place making event for the Design District at Greenwich Peninsula, there were walls that artists or guests could graffiti on, allowing them to unleash their creative side whilst simultaneously adding a decorative element to the event space. 

2016's spectacular GQ MOTY show featured an art installation designed by George Lewin as an Instagram booth backdrop, nicknamed the 'GQ Freezus Curve'. The guests were captured inside the art piece, expressing themselves among the modelled shapes in a unique slow-motion video. Guests got quite playful with this one, with vlogger Casey Neistat even risking his suit to do a handstand in the booth.






The exhibitions that gain the most coverage tend to be very imaginative, bordering on the totally absurd. The Timebased team went on an inspiration-gathering trip to the V&A’s Tim Walker: Wonderful Things exhibition — the artist’s creative processes are a must-see! 

Similarly, the Zabludowicz Collection’s showcase of artworks by Shauna Moulton was an invitation to escape a mundane, anxiety-filled world. Her trippy, wacky works filled three gallery spaces which encompassed a surreal VR simulation, glowing crystals, a digital waterfall and a giant pink tower with LED screens.

For a Sunglass Hut press event, Timebased’s designers came up with a ball pit made to look like a swimming pool, inspired by Leandro Erlich’s swimming pool illusion. So, if you’re ever stuck for ideas that challenge the norm, we recommend heading out to an exhibition and taking notes!


“My favourite art movement is Surrealism  Dali for example. I think it is because I like how random and free it is. I am interested in putting a lot of ideas into one piece of work and not having to remove any thought process. I feel a lot of genuineness and subconsciousness comes out that way and it helps me to understand myself. Also, the visual effects speak for themselves, I believe in letting the work speak for itself.”
ngela Yip, Events Designer at Timebased


Looking to create an event that’s a work of art? Get in touch with the Timebased team and we will be happy to produce original design ideas or bring your existing brief to life.


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Event Trends for 202003.02.20