Last month, Design Campus Live took over America’s Mart in Atlanta and one of our event highlights was an inspiring panel discussing the trials and tribulations of participating in a show house, moderated by the queen of the show house herself, design industry event producer: Vanessa Kogevinas! Vanessa let us in on this specific part of the design industry that us designers don’t necessarily think about everyday. Read on to learn more about how Vanessa got her start in producing design industry events and from where she draws inspiration to make them a smashing success:
When did you first become interested in Event Production and Management?
Being organized is the number one asset in Event Production. My first job out of college was as Executive Assistant to the Executive Editor of Architectural Digest. Organization was paramount! From there I was hired to start-up a magazine, Western Interiors and Design, and was appointed as the Managing Editor. I oversaw all print production and flow, staff, office logistics … and even worked in writing and editing. I really enjoyed having my hand in so many different aspects of a company and interfacing with so many different people – from my staff to industry leader to sinterior designers and architects to photographers and writers, and so many more! I also loved having such an integral part in growing a product and company from a concept to a seedling to a full-fledged successful magazine and business. After 9 years in publishing I decided to take on the challenge of starting up my own business… and from that Vanessa K. Productions Design Industry Events was born. We produce high-end social events, special events, show houses, conferences and more!
What is something you wish you knew when you first started in the industry?/What piece of advice would you give to your younger self?
View your mistakes as lessons and do not make them again. Do not let them weigh you down by considering them failures.
It’s your time to brag a bit: What past project of yours are you most proud of?
I have produced close to a dozen show houses, multiple conferences and countless social events. I am proud of all of them. However, the most challenging are show houses at Greystone Mansion in Beverly Hills, of which I have produced four. We bring in anywhere between 24-26 designers that each have a room in the 44,000 sq. ft. mansion and there are typically more than two dozen sponsors. I function as the link between the City of Beverly Hills, the publication that is sponsoring the show house, and all of the designers and sponsors. It can take up to six months to produce a show house at Greystone. It is an intense, unique experience, and once it opens so incredibly satisfying!
If you were not an event producer, what would you be?
Are you inspired by other events, venues or businesses? If so, whom and why?
Absolutely! Every event, venue and/or business is an opportunity to see what works and what doesn’t. I’m always taking mental notes. Did I get in and out easily? Was I able to view product fluidly? Did I learn something? Was I able to get a refreshment without waiting endlessly? Did I get to my seat or check-in in a timely manner? How was I treated? Was the staff friendly and helpful? If something wasn’t up to par how was it handled? A few events/venues/businesses that I think have got it right – Dwell on Design, Cirque De Soleil, Southwest Airlines. Try them all and you will see what I mean!
What sets your event production company apart from others?
Vanessa K. Productions prides itself on its personal and personable service. I am regularly in touch with all key players of any production that I am producing. I don’t pass it off to my staff. I don’t phone it in. I hire people that are committed, professional and friendly. I am only as good as my team. As a result, I am proud and honored to say that Vanessa K. Productions regularly secures repeat clients.
It goes without saying that in addition to being a successful event producer you also have to be a smart business person in order to run a successful company. What would you say is the key to achieving that success?
Organization, knowing your market, targeting your strengths and capitalizing on those, anticipating the needs of others/clients, hiring the right staff and Quickbooks!
Is travel important to your work and inspirations? If so, how and why?
Travel is important to me, period. I was born in Paris and have lived in Switzerland, England, Connecticut, and California. I consider myself a citizen of the world. I want to learn as much as I can about other places, their cultures, their people. I have always said that the more steps I take on this planet the happier I am, more dynamic my life will be and the more I am able to live and give as a citizen of the world. Even if it’s as simple as a walk to the beach from my house in Mar Vista, California. If you look, you will see inspiration everywhere.
What is your favorite city?
What is at the top of your bucket list right now?
Visiting as many new cities in the US as I can, traveling to South America, and traveling to Australia.
What is your dream project?
Any project that challenges me and allows me to juggle multiple tasks at once while interacting with interesting and inspirational people. To be tested is my dream project!
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