• Meet Lihi Gerstner, The Event Architect

     
    POSTED October 17, 2017
     

    Lihi Gerstner is bringing Splacer to Chicago, an online marketplace offering a sharing economy for unique, short-term event spaces.

When you’re looking for the most unique, beautiful space for your next meeting or event, trust the architects. Lihi Gerstner (and her business partner Adi Biran) are world-renowned building designers that launched a new business called Splacer in 2014. The online marketplace acts like an Airbnb for short-term event rentals and features some of the most unique, surprising options in a major metro area. While the service has gained popularity in New York City, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Miami, the duo decided to make their fifth location Chicago. “We personally love all the great architecture in the city, and it made us inspired to move our latest operation there,” says Gerstner.

ILM+E: How did you and Adi come up with the idea for Splacer?
LG:
Adi and I met while studying architecture in New York, and over the past 15 years, we’ve done many projects together— designing buildings, houses and neighborhoods. But we started to understand how much space is out there that’s not being utilized. Instead of building more, we wanted to figure out a way to reuse the existing and recycle space. And as we did so, the connection between architecture and the event world started to become clear.

ILM+E: What are some of the most original spaces in Chicago that have come online through Splacer?
LG:
Planners know better than us all the designated event and commercial spaces, so we wanted to strive to feature unknown options. We have incredible rooftops, distilleries, museums, galleries, unconventional offices, photo studios, mansions, even co-working spaces. They are all beautifully designed and have capabilities for meetings, corporate events and social parties

ILM+E: How is Splacer a tool that can help planners?
LG:
Our filters and our search tools are very specific, which means whatever you are looking for, you can find it much easier. Maybe it’s a Greek-style wedding venue with a yellow kitchen, for example. With our tags and filters you can find exactly what you need, and the search results may present something you weren’t even thinking of. Like any sharing economy model the planner also gets to talk directly to the owner and can ask questions and book visits with more ease. Our space owners also have a convenient platform for leads, sending quotes, sharing menus, etc. What we’ve seen is a real sense of collaboration and a sense of synergy between owner and event organizer and guest. Guests may go to a gallery and buy a piece of artwork to take home, or a planner might book a distillery and then have the chance to get an automatic liquor sponsor. It’s not just the places but the things happening in the places that makes it so appealing.

For Andrea Mokros, Minneapolis-based public relations executive and independent event consultant, the last decade has been a whirlwind. From serving as special assistant to President Obama and director of strategic planning for then-first lady Michelle Obama, to welcoming newcomers to the Bold North as the vice president of communications and events for the Minnesota Super Bowl Host Committee, Mokros shares the key takeaways that inspire her work today. 

 

Tony Michaels is no stranger to navigating choppy waters. The CEO and executive director of The Parade Company, which puts on traditions like America’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and the Ford Fireworks, took the helm of the Detroit nonprofit during tough times, at the height of the financial crisis. “2008, 2009, are you kidding me?” says Michaels.

 

Originally from Ontario, Heather Odendaal got her start in event planning early, serving as her high school’s head of social events. She ended up on the West Coast, courtesy of her studies at the University of British Columbia, and launched her career in Whistler, working for the resort in marketing and events. Today, she’s CEO of Bluebird Strategy, a boutique event planning firm, and CEO and founder of WNORTH, a global community of women who have their sights set on the C-suite.