Inspired Spaces an eventful experience Four programs, seven industry partners showcased!

Inspired

The tabletops were glamorous and the venue decked out. But the recent production of Inspired Spaces — Seneca’s annual tabletop competition — was more than just beautiful tables.

“It has evolved into a huge production that creates a real-life learning experience for all of our students,” said Professor John MacBride, Program Coordinator, Event Management – Event & Exhibit Design.

The event, which saw collaboration from four academic programs and seven industry partners, drew more than 200 industry professionals from across Canada to the new Centre for Innovation, Technology, and Entrepreneurship (CITE) at Newnham Campus on March 27.

“The involvement of the other academic areas elevated the sophistication of the event. It was the best turnout we’ve ever had,” MacBride said. “It takes all of us to pull off an event like this and our industry partners helped put it on the national stage.”

Those partners included Event Rental Group for rentals and Presidential Gourmet for catering. The Butler Did It provided professional service staff and OneWest Events helped sponsor the bar. The International Live Events Association Toronto chapter co-produced the event and  FMAV provided additional equipment and television support. The event was part of CSE Live, a national event conference produced by Canadian Special Events, which provided marketing, promotion, and registration.

Seneca Alumni provided financial support.

 

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From left: Professor John Switzer joins on tambourine with Independent Music Production performers Jon Satov, Erica Knox and Benji Crane at Inspired Spaces.
In addition to showcasing outstanding tabletop designs from 20 of MacBride’s students, Inspired Spaces treated guests to live musical performances by six students from the Independent Music Production and Independent Songwriting & Performance programs.

“We were asked to provide background entertainment, but the event provided incredible potentials for the students,” said Professor John Switzer, Program Co-ordinator, Independent Music Production. “They were excited by how official the event was and by the positive response from professional event planners who approached them for future opportunities.”

Behind the scenes, about 20 students from the Event & Media Production program handled technical production, content development and event planning for Inspired Spaces, everything from lighting to audio and video systems.

“We were there to up the game, so to speak, and to provide a better user experience,” said Professor Tim Abbott, Program Coordinator, Event & Media Production.

In turn, Abbott said the students benefited from cross-disciplinary experiential learning that is crucial to their work.

“Something always goes wrong at events, and the better prepared you are, the more you are able to calmly react,” he said. “It’s not real until the audience is there and people only know we are there if something goes wrong.”

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Brendan Pilgrim of the Event Management – Event & Exhibit Design program shows off his tabletop design at Inspired Spaces.
While this year’s Inspired Spaces handed out top three awards to Sakina Li (gold), Riley Wilson (silver) and Han Vo (bronze), the event was a win for all.

Brendan Pilgrim, who made up his mind to come to Seneca after watching Inspired Spaces on YouTube three years ago, received two jobs from industry professionals who attended the event.

“I met with three décor houses and they all gave me great feedback about my unique taste and storytelling,” he said. “Now I’m booked!”

From setting up and booking catering to inspecting rental delivery and tearing everything down after the event, Pilgrim said the hands-on approach of working with other students and industry partners exposed him to the life of an event designer and planner.

“It’s not just the creative aspect, it’s also business planning,” Pilgrim said. “It’s a true reality of what the event industry is all about.”

 

Congratulations to everyone involved!

Want more? Check out our photo gallery of the 2019 Inspired Spaces.

Event Students Assist the Aga Khan

Alumni Spotlight: Michelle Nicol, CERP

Michelle Nicol

Did you know that Seneca Fashion offers a certificate in Event Management; Event and Exhibit Design? Meet Michelle Nicol, a graduate from the first year the program was offered! We are so proud of what she has been able to accomplish over the past two years and look forward to watching her continued success – enjoy!

Full name: Michelle Nicol, CERP

Program:  Event Management; Event & Exhibit Design

Grad Year: 2006

Current Position: Account Manager, Festival Specialist (Higgins Event Rentals)

What is your favorite Seneca memory?

My favorite Seneca memory has to be working on the Design Exchange Gala with my classmates and professors. It was such a gorgeous venue and great opportunity to work on an event from inception to completion. Another memory, which is perhaps more of a lesson that I still look back at and laugh at to this day. During a group project where we had to design a tabletop, one of my classmates was adamant on using a feather boa as a centerpiece and one of the judges said it looked like roadkill. Needless to say, we didn’t do so well on that project. Lesson learned: follow your design instinct and never put feathers in a centerpiece! If something does not go your way, get back up and try again. We learn from our mistakes.

If you could give one piece of advice to a student completing the same program as you, what would it be?

Don’t be afraid to get out there, introduce yourself and make a name for yourself! The competition is stiff in the Event Industry; you have to stand out, be relatable and friendly. People will remember how you made them feel, not necessarily what you did for them.

How has your career evolved?

I have grown tremendously in my profession and have really made “rental” a lifelong career, which I love! Sitting on multiple committees for local, national and international industry-related associations keeps me busy and involved in the ever-evolving event industry. I have recently been recognized with an award for Rental Person of the Year and have been named a “Top 10 Under 40” for the American Rental Association! I continue to write articles for industry associated publications and am one of few CERP (Certified Event Rental Professionals) in Canada. 

How did your Seneca program help you get to where you are now/your current career?

I was referred to a large local rental company by one of their greatest customers, who was also a professor of mine at Seneca College. Upon graduation, I accepted a position with them and my career has grown since then.

Do you have any other thoughts or memories you would like to share?

Be a fruit loop in a world of Cheerios!