Event Design: Ed Libby: The King of Design. His journey from flower shop driver to event designer extraordinaire.
> Written by Kim Knox Beckius
“You need air, water and someone to love you; everything else is an option,” concedes designer Ed Libby. Yet, this master of combining diverse and complex elements to create stunning installations is quick to insist that celebrations should be fully loaded. “Life is such a struggle on every level for everyone,” Libby says. Times of intense emotion, of togetherness, of rapturous joy “are far too brief” and infrequent. Celebrating these moments “on a grand and spectacular level is incredibly important,” he contends. So, when his event designs leave guests agog and asking, “Why?” he invariably responds: “Why not?”
It’s the answer family members might have heard had they asked Libby why, as a child, he’d “make something out of the box,” and ignore the amazing present inside. “I was creating things from a young age. I was definitely born to do this,” Libby says. He wasn’t introduced to the events industry, however, until he took a job as a flower shop driver, while studying art and business. Now, 27 years after establishing his own floral design firm, Libby credits clients with catapulting his career. “Each client entrusted me with a little bit more responsibility until I developed who I am as an artist,” he says.
Now, Libby and his “incredible team” at Ed Libby & Company in New York and Los Angeles bring unfailing originality to lavish, high-profile affairs. “I’m a regular guy who wants to make beautiful parties. That’s why I’m so easy to work with,” says the self described shy designer. “I’m a little bit of a dreamer,” says Libby, who connects with clients who similarly strive to be “the best at what they do. I’ve never been intimidated by a client—from the Vatican to celebrities. They’re amazing people who want to have amazing parties.”
“My career is such a huge part of my life,” says Libby, who spends rare free time with industry colleagues who inspire him and can relate when “the roses get stuck in customs.” And he’s never without “a huge stack of sketch paper”—drawing helps him concentrate and communicate. “My team studies these sketches like it is their religion,” he notes. A quick sketch can also engender trust and comfort, says Libby, who is three parts artist, one part therapist when he meets with emotion-filled brides who “can have anything in the world” and sometimes get “options paralysis.”
Like a Polaroid, Libby’s vision for an event progresses from fuzzy to focused to perfectly executed. Nuances are as critical as the big brush strokes. “It’s the things people are not expecting that really grab their emotions,” Libby says. “Immersing the guest in the environment is one of the most important things I do,” says the designer, who prefers a single saturated hue.
“I never think anything’s impossible,” Libby asserts. But he’s cognizant that for an event to be endearing, “You don’t need to have anything. I’m really creating art for art’s sake,” he says. “This is all a fantasy at the end of the day.”
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