There is no opportunity more exciting to the creative organiser than a blank canvas event space. Whether you’re planning a conference, private dinner, summer party or awards ceremony, a blank canvas venue gives you the chance to create the exact setting you’ve imagined – one that will perfectly suit your brand, content or theming. But having to plan any event from scratch in a blank canvas space can be an intimidating prospect, however many times you may have done it before.
Our guide will show you how to make the most of a blank canvas event space, how to maximise every opportunity and how to overcome the challenges you might face.
Layout and flow
There is a huge benefit to an event space which doesn’t have fixed seating. Not only does it allow an event organiser the scope to choose the layout of their chairs, tables and other furniture, it also means that there’s an opportunity to use one space for more than one element of an event.
For example, a conference might well be made up of some morning talks for which a theatre style layout would make sense. There might also be an exhibition in the afternoon which requires displays and stands. And the evening may well comprise a reception for drinks, bowl food and dancing which needs buffet and poseur tables and a dancefloor. Early discussions with any of your short-listed venues are imperative to ensure there will be time to ‘turn the room around’ and that the venue has other spaces of suitable size to hold and entertain your guests while the space is re-dressed for whatever is next up on you schedule.
The Bill Boeing Room here at No.4 Hamilton Place has capacity to seat 250 conference delegates in a theatre style and can comfortably accommodate up to 300 for a drinks reception. There is ample space throughout the rest of our exclusive Mayfair townhouse for your guests to enjoy themselves while our staff transform the space for whatever you require.
Clients tell us that they quite often get ‘the feeling’ when they walk into the venue they book. They simply know it’s the right decision. Although they might not be able to say exactly why they fall in love with a place, it’s clear it’s a lot to do with atmosphere.
Choosing a blank canvas venue is without a doubt a tougher job than picking one which is presented to you dressed and ready to impress. It takes vision and a leap of faith but more than anything, it takes attention to detail. There are lots of different factors involved when trying to create atmosphere at an event, and a lot of it comes down to the venue’s AV facilities.
The look and feel of a space can be utterly transformed, quite literally, by the flick of a switch. Cool, calming, daylight-style lighting might offer your guests the perfect ambience in which to concentrate on your keynote speaker’s talk, but for your evening reception, moody up-lighting followed by some colourful disco lights and glitterball could be more fitting. The Bill Boeing suite at No.4 Hamilton Place has a fully integrated lighting system which can create any atmosphere you require. Always speak to any venue you’re visiting to make sure their AV facilities can accommodate the different aspects of your project.
Sound, screens and projectors
Another big part of creating atmosphere is down to sound, or more specifically, music. And we’re not just talking about the playlist or live band at your evening do. Getting the background music in between talks, during networking sessions and at registration is just as important as it can break the ice and relax the mood.
Screens at a blank canvas venue can play a very important role, too, so it’s worth asking how many, how big and how good the ones are at anywhere you are considering hiring. These can be used for branding, playing video content, creating a social media wall or displaying photos from you event. Some venues will even have the capacity to display images directly onto the walls of the room you’ve hired. The Bill Boeing Room has a 4.9×4.3m screen and a three-chip data projector – our inhouse technicians are always happy to show potential clients the quality and versatility of the facilities.
Creating the layout and flow
Without fixed seating and furniture in place, the layout of the room is much more flexible and you can consider hiring in furniture to work with your theme or corporate style. It also means that there is an opportunity to use the space for more than one element of your event and surprise your guests with a room turnaround halfway through the day.
The Bill Boeing Room can accommodate a variety of set ups including theatre and cabaret for conference events, as well as standing receptions for post-event networking. There is ample space throughout the rest of our exclusive Mayfair townhouse for your guests to enjoy themselves while our team transform the event space for the next part of your event.
Furniture and decor
Most venues will have furniture onsite you can hire, or it may even come as part of the package. It’s important, however, to not feel limited by the first selection you see. Chair and table covers can completely transform the look and feel of a room, but you could go one step further and hire furniture that fits in with the theme of your party or drink reception. For example, floor cushions and low, intricately engraved tables for your Moroccan-themed evening or large, rattan chairs and sofas for your tropical-style summer party.
If you have a very specific, fantastic idea for a themed party, then a blank canvas venue offers the best opportunity for you to realise your vision. Props, entertainers and any decorations you use will take centre stage if there is nothing else in the room to distract your guests’ eyes. If you feel you might need support, you could employ an agency to help you stage your event. Some venues, like No.4, have in-house teams that can take care of as little or as much of the theming as you need.
Many blank canvas venues will give you the opportunity to bring in specialist caterers, should you wish to do so. This is a conversation well worth starting with your venue as soon as you talk about pencilling in your date. It’s always valuable to hire caterers who have experience of the venue as every kitchen has its idiosyncrasies and your venue might well have a list of preferred suppliers. Or, like at No.4 Hamilton Place, they may have an in-house catering team used to turning their hand to bespoke menus. Catering company Blue Strawberry has a team of world-class chefs and kitchen staff at our venue. Our head chef has created a portfolio of fabulous menus but is always happy to work with clients who want a hand in creating something just for them.
If you’re planning on bringing in outside suppliers to your blank canvas event, you will need to discuss the logistics of drop-offs and set-ups with your venue team. Find out what access you can have on the days either side of your event, where items can be loaded and unloaded and how much help can the venue offer with setting everything up and taking it down again.
Your next blank canvas event at No.4 Hamilton Place
The Bill Boeing Room is a unique offering as a blank canvas event space. It provides organisers free reign to create their perfect event, with all the modern facilities you’d expect from a contemporary conference venue in London. But on top of this, it’s located within a beautiful, period townhouse in the exclusive neighbourhood of Mayfair. The venue and catering team can offer organisers as much help and guidance as they need and are never happier than when they are asked to contribute to creative ideas. If you have any questions about our spaces or facilities, give us a call on 020 7670 4314.