09 Dec Influencer Interview – Philip Carr, Event Architect
As an event architect – indisputably, one of Australia’s finest – Philip Carr not only has an exceptional eye for style and flair, and exceptional creativity, but he also has an incredible eye for detail and head for business. Philip is a true designer – of creative, breathtaking events – and someone I have long admired and respected. I am honoured to feature Philip in my last influencer interview for 2015.
MS | How did you get started in the events industry and what led you to your current role as an event architect?
PC| It started as a family catering business. In those days, catering was the event. Slowly, more and more was asked to be done and the ‘eventing’ aspect that we know today, evolved.
MS | You are widely regarded as one of the best event designers and stylists in Australia. To what do you credit such an amazing reputation?
PC| I am very lucky to have been born with creativity. With this, I see the world in a certain way. I always try to not so much think outside of the box but rather to think that there is no box at all. Added to that is a bit of hedonism, which makes me think what would “I” like if I was a guest at this event.
MS | Deﬁne ‘event architect’. How do you see that it diﬀers from an event planner?
PC| An architect orchestrates the whole spatial and visual environment, from the design of the room, the layout and how it will function, through to planning the order of the day. It is really how the whole place comes together – in what you see, what you hear, what you smell, what you taste, and what you feel – that makes the event work.
MS | When you walk into a room do you immediately have a vision for the event you’re designing?
PC| As part of being creative, I can normally visualise what the space should end up looking like almost immediately. It is then about translating that to the client. When I say things take a few minutes to work out though, it is actually 35 years of experience that is coming into play.
MS | How do you continue to come up with creative ideas to keep each event unique? Where do you get your inspiration?
PC| I get inspiration from all that is around me. Travelling overseas exposes me to new things. Often something will conjure up inspiration that then leads to creativity in another event. It may be as simple as sitting at a pool in a hotel in Santorini – all the whiteness of the buildings around you and the bluest water get the creative juices flowing. Colour has a huge impact on the ﬂow of creativity for me.
MS | What elements are key to making an event special – or even spectacular?
PC| It is really about how all the elements are pulled together. The taste of something goes to a whole new level when the lighting is good, when what you’re hearing is great and when what you’re smelling is wonderful, and so on. It is about a holistic approach to every moment.
MS | Is a decent budget essential to making an event unique or special? Have you achieved amazing things on smaller budgets?
PC| Of course – within reason. It is more about not showing people everything that you have thought of. If you walked into a room with hundreds of beautiful candles that smelt right, it would be far better than just a few candles, a few ﬂowers, etc. – but creativity is far more important than having a large budget.
MS | What advice can you give people designing their own event to take it to the next level?
PC| Again, don’t show people everything you have thought of, but rather carry one idea through properly.
MS | What is your favourite type of event?
PC| Emotionally, a wedding is a beautiful experience in which people are embarking on a whole new phase of life and you are enriching that experience. On the other hand, parties can often come from left ﬁeld and be more creative.
MS | What has been your favourite event to date?
PC| Each event is special in its own way. Those clients who trust me, give me a lot of free reign and make me push my own boundaries, typically end up with the most exciting events.
MS | Can you tell me your worst (funniest?) experience working on an event?
PC| It’s a really long story and hard to write in such a small space, but my worst experience was not my funniest. But, as they say, comedy = tragedy + time!!!!!!
MS | You are name and the face of Philip Carr & Associates, can you tell us about the team behind you?
PC| I work side by side with the best co-pilot anyone could want. I am very lucky to have Deanna who is an extension of me in every way. We work together in often very stressful situations and have to handle it all with aplomb. We then work with a team of people – a team of sub-contractors – depending on the job.
MS | Your events are typically creative, unique and lavish – how much does this reﬂect your personality? How much of you is in each of your events?
PC| I think there is a lot of me in all my events. I always try to think of the guest’s experience in terms of what I would really like if I was there as a guest. I also like to ‘extend’ the event so that it goes beyond where the guest thought it would. We have been known to give out the morning papers, wrap up the ﬂowers, or the croissants and jam from breakfast for departing guests. It is not something they would have expected but are always pleasantly surprised and appreciate that extra thought and effort.
MS | When does your role actually finish? Do you usually stay on through the event?
PC| We are involved with the event from inception to clean up. Clients want the full package, which allows them to enjoy their own event.
MS | What is your advice for handling difficult clients?
PC| To not merge with the madness!!!
Event images courtesy of Philip Carr & Associates
Philip Carr portrait courtesy of Craig Greenhill/Daily Telegraph