With my time as a board member for the International Interior Design Association (IIDA) local chapter of Illinois as VP of Membership, I created an event called PHOTOBASH. I created this event as a membership “value” for members. The idea started simply as attendees getting their headshot photos taken in front of hanging artwork to use for social media and professional profiles.
Trying to source the artwork that would be fitting for the event became difficult; size, style, etc. The other challenge in the infant stages of this event was how to “frame” and install the backdrops in the event space. A quick solution to the background was to source the backgrounds from wallcovering manufactures. This doubled as both a background solution and an opportunity for Chapter sponsors who had wallcoverings, to highlight whichever product they choose. For the framing/installation challenge, I partnered with local carpenters and construction companies to provide professional framing which attendees can take the backgrounds home. Every year since the inception in 2014, we have hosted the event at a different venue every year to highlight different areas of the city.
Within the Architecture & Design industry the different disciplines have very silo’d events. They are often attended by the same people, which makes attendance drop and events become stagnant. In my last year as a board member, I attempted to change that in 2016-17 by partnering with The Society of Typographic Artists by having their membership create the backgrounds which people take their picture in front of.
While I am no longer head of the event, I am still very much involved and many of the current aspects of the event I am really proud of. We now have 2 professional photographers taking beautiful headshots of the guests. DJ Charles protege spinning the tunes. The backgrounds are concept consistent; font & Pantone color of the year 2019: 16-1546 Living Coral. The backgrounds are large enough for people to take home as artwork, which is a sight to see at the end of the night. The artwork is won by raffle with proceeds going to (re)group. (re)group is organized for charitable and educational purposes to promote networking and career development among young students through the architecture/interior design community by means of social and educational events.
I truly believe that if you build it, they will come. Since the first year with attendees of 50-60 people, this April 2019 we had about 160 attendees with 240 tickets sold (the event was rescheduled from the original date). I have seen and been made aware similar events that have been created since the beginning in this market and varying markets through other organizations. I hope we continue to evolve the event and cross pollinate with other organizations. I look forward to the years to come.