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Creative and Concept Briefs

ISES Conference Opening Night Reception

Creative and Concept Briefs: Designing an Event… for Event Planners!

As event designers, The Workshop lives and breathes high-pressure situations, but when asked to plan the Opening Night Reception for the International Special Event Society Conference (“ISES Live”), we knew the pressure would be higher than usual – an event for event planners.

How do you impress 300 of the world’s top event planners, people who have seen and done it all?

To answer this question, we channeled our company philosophy: produce customized experiences that help clients achieve their goals.

Meaningful, personalized and creative concepts for our clients – in this case many world-renowned event planners – are crafted through a two-step process: developing a creative brief followed by a concept brief.

Step 1: Get Creative

The foundation of all design projects begins with a creative brief: a document in which a strategy is developed and that serves as a tool to clarify and focus our creative work. We utilize the creative brief to help us to better understand a client’s vision, brand, objectives, audience and messaging, leading the creative in a strategic direction that enables the live experience to be meaningful to both our clients and audience.

For ISES Live, we identified three major goals:

· Create a high-end and high-quality spectacle

· Create a new experience that has not been seen before

· Bring an unexpected surprise to the conference

We also needed to establish an unusually strong first impression of Seattle for attendees by highlighting the professionalism of the event planning community and spotlight Seattle as a top-notch destination – and make sure that everybody had a great time! Not only that, but we aimed to wow our guests with an inspirational experience that would serve as a platform to build the reputation of ISES as the major association for creative event professionals globally. There was no doubt in our minds that we needed to draft a knockout concept in order to bring the creative brief to life.

Step 2: Get Conceptual

Let’s start by defining what we mean by “concept.” In our work, a concept is a specific design-story that drives a project and gives it purpose, direction, meaning and impact.

The concept brief is a creative document that describes and ties unique concept designs and stories to the client’s purpose. It explains the framework around concepts and defines concepts developed by the creative team.

So, what were the concepts developed through this process for ISES Live?

Venue as Art

The venue choice was critical in order to meet the strategic needs of ISES and to deliver an impactful first impression of Seattle. In the end, we selected the modern, artful and cool Olympic Sculpture Park for its unbeatable atmosphere and because it has one of the Seattle’s most commanding views of the Elliott Bay and the Olympic Mountains. The space was a little small for our guest count, but we accommodated by building out the exterior spaces, turning the event into a beautiful outdoor lawn party, heavy on furniture, food and music.

A Customized Musical Experience

Inspired by a European street fair and an elegant cocktail party, the evening’s entertainment began with five stages set with a mix of local musicians playing a revolving set list with a unique combination of instruments. As the evening progressed, a vocalist stepped onto the main stage to begin the “Call of the Siren” musical experience, bringing the street musicians together into a large house band that transitioned the event into a cool outdoor dance party.


A unique culinary concept tied to Seattle’s molecular gastronomy roots, each guest was invited to sample an mBerry tablet and “flip” their taste buds at a unique specialty “Flavor-Tripping Bar.” Testing an unusual menu of flavors ranging from lemons and limes to sea salt and vinegar potato chips, our curators encouraged guests to experience sour everyday foods as sweet.

Décor as art

With the Seattle Art Museum’s Olympic Sculpture Park as the event’s venue, we designed the décor to work in sync with extensive art collection and musical programming scattered throughout the experience. Designed to draw guests deep into the event, the decor spread guests throughout the space, and led them into every nook and cranny of the experience.

So tell me, did The Workshop bring the party to life?

Yes! Guest feedback was extremely positive and attendees went home pleased with their high-quality experience – they enjoyed the food, drink, décor, entertainment and service. Not only were the high-end elements appreciated, but so were the unexpected surprises: the “Flavor-Tripping Bar”, musical entertainment, décor and more! The ISES Live Opening Reception was a rousing success and a unique event for event planners that won’t soon be forgotten.

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