Orbs glowed atop white draped tables, robots rolled by in human-sized wheels and guests overlooked a Grand Canyon-esque landscape as they took in the futuristic-meets-Old-West fun world before them.
Inspired by HBO’s hit show “Westworld,” members of Chicago’s National Association for Catering and Events (NACE) and International Live Events Association (ILEA) chapters teamed up to create their own scifi theme park for the 18th Annual N.I.C.E Awards, held on April 9 at Morgan Manufacturing. Nearly 300 event planners, DMCs, caterers, florists, A/V companies and their teams gathered to connect and celebrate members of both associations for their accomplishments in the special events industry at the joint awards, cleverly titled “NICEworld.”
“To create the kind of themed destination park brought to life in the show, we designed each space to reflect the Western or robotic, high-tech elements of ‘Westworld,’” says Martin Lawrence, who works in business development for AV Chicago and was the Awards, Entertainment & Production Committee chair for the 2019 awards. “Each section of the venue was designed to create a clean, sterile, futuristic space or a clear Old West saloon vibe.”
Guests were greeted with a white and metallic paper installation at registration, bellied up to metallic bars and nibbled neon-lit wisps of cot - ton candy. An abundance of white drapery, pops of color and performers dressed and behaving as robots perfectly complemented futuristic spaces, while plenty of warm wood and brick accents, farmhouse tables, small bites served on nail-studded trays, wagon wheels, barrels, cacti and antler décor made up the Old West aesthetic.
After cocktails and passed hors d’oeuvres, awards were presented against a canyon backdrop with the help of an ultra-wide LED video wall and a rustic cabin scene was created for the event’s 360-degree pho - tobooth. BeatMix Music provided Westworld-style music for the event with a blend of unique riffs on modern music and old-timey saloon player piano tunes, and afterparty guests indulged in a round of blackjack led by dealers clad in cowboy hats and leather vests.