Photographs by Angela Carlyle Photography
WHEN IT COMES TO INTERIORS, DESIGNERS ARE ALWAYS SEARCHING FOR WAYS TO MAKE A ROOM THAT’S TIMELESS. Of course, there are always occasions to be of-the-moment—events that fill in the cracks around the quotidian and mark time spent with loved ones. In many ways, event design is not so different from interior design—it still involves attention to aesthetics, flow, and mood. And it is interior design that gave Jamie Taylor, founder of Confëte Party Box, the foundation to go on to create memorable event design.
After studying interior design, and a decade working in high-end furniture showrooms and with a company that develops custom homes, Taylor turned her focus to marketing and branding. She earned a degree in marketing and graphic design, all the while teaching herself how to use photoshop and build websites. When a chance opportunity to co-host her niece’s graduation party with her sister came up in the spring of 2017, Taylor noticed how difficult it was for her sister, a busy mom, to drive to party stores to pick up all the supplies. She realized that her sister probably wasn’t the only person struggling with this problem and that a service that brought decorations to your door could fix it. “I had always dreamt of owning my own business, I just didn’t know what it was going to be because I wanted it to be something that nobody else was doing,” Taylor says.
By fall 2017, she had launched Confëte Party Box, offering ready-to-go themed kits for parties including bachelorettes, baby showers, and even unicorn-themed celebrations. The components are not your average Party City fare, but editorial-worthy décor. “I took my design background and thought about how to put great colors together for themes, and I knew I wanted to have beautifully designed, quality items to make an occasion feel really special.” A balloon garland she created for her niece’s graduation party prompted inquiries from the party-goers, and after including some DIY options in party boxes, Taylor began doing custom installs for larger clients in the Seattle area. On Instagram, these installations get hundreds of likes. “I’ve learned you can’t manufacture momentum,” she says. “You have to go where the momentum is, and I’m excited to see where the balloon garlands go.”
This past summer Confëte’s Instagram caught the eye of the GRAY editors, and (lucky for us) we were able to work with Taylor as she created a custom balloon installation for the 2018 GRAY Awards. We sat down with her to find out more about what it takes to make these spherical works of art, how to create the best party atmosphere with décor, and where she finds inspiration.
What is Confëte Party box?
JT: We put together themed, prepackaged party boxes that are mailed to your door. They all include a style guide that gives tips and tricks for how to set up the party box. You can also build your own boxes on our website, and for larger events, we will design them specifically for you, like a virtual event planner. On top of that, we do balloon garlands and installations—we offer DIY versions or we can do a custom install, which are great for weddings or corporate events. We make celebrating life’s most important moments easier!
What’s your best tip for creating the perfect party?
JT: I always say don’t get too literal with the theme. Pick a theme and incorporate small nods and accents, not everything should be all-over theme. Even a kid’s party doesn’t have to be pattern-on-pattern Mickey Mouse or unicorn. I suggest starting with a color scheme and then peppering in the theme, which will give your event a much more mature and beautiful look. And a bonus tip: try to pick one general area to decorate and focus on making that area the focal point instead of trying to drape everything throughout the room. It could be a simple as a centerpiece, dessert table, or bar—or as dramatic as a balloon installation. Deck that out and have other smaller décor pieces throughout the space. One focal point draws your attention and creates the impact.
What aspect from your interior design training have you brought over to parties?
JT: With the themed boxes, something that has carried over is putting together a harmonious color palette. I want to create a modern, beautiful feel, starting with a color concept. For this holiday season, I wanted something that was traditional but also fresh, so the palette is green and red, with accents of pale pink and teal to punch it up. With balloons, scale is a big factor. For the Gray Awards, I drew a floorplan and a concept design of what the garland was going to look like—with the grand size of that room, the scale has to match and varying the sizes of the balloons creates interest. The difference I try to bring with my installations is a focus on color scheme and scale—to me the ones I love are almost all the same color with varying shades, or all solid colors but different finishes. This approach creates depth and sophistication.
Tell us more about your process making the garland for the GRAY Awards.
JT: First, I love being able to go and see a space in person to understand scale and layout, which we did. And that was a good thing because the whole concept started as an installation around the stage. Once I got to see the amazing interior of the Sanctuary, I could tell that we had more room to experiment with space. It’s important to consider what’s actually going to be happening in the room and how the balloons can enhance that. For the GRAY Awards, we wanted to create something that wasn’t your typical balloon arch, so that’s how we ended up doing something that went overhead—to be unexpected. You shared that there was going to be a disco theme threaded through the night, so we mixed shades and textures of silver balloons, with some actual disco ball designs. Finally, we added silver tinsel hanging down to keep the momentum of fun and glitz, overlapping the strings of garlands to make an interesting pattern. I personally love designs that are a little more asymmetrical, and we had to work with attaching the garlands to the balconies, but a lot of times your restrictions influence your designs, and it ended up making it almost even better than attaching them to a wall.
What trends are you picking up on in event design, and where do you find inspiration?
JT: I get a lot of inspiration from other balloon artists, especially Geronimo and Poppies for Grace on Instagram. Something that hasn’t really hit Washington yet, but there are these girls out of Australia creating huge garlands made out of flagging tape that they put in a lattice pattern across ceilings. Lots of garlands are thin, but these have so much depth and texture. These things are all about having a big impact. For party themes, I’m interested in thinking about how to make them less predictable. We had gotten tons of requests for a jungle theme party box, and we did a glam jungle in gold, white, and green. I’m always thinking in terms of variations on theme.
What’s something people always want to know about the balloon installations?
JT: A ton of people ask about the environmental impact. The balloons we use are 100% natural and biodegradable and filled with air, not helium. We also practice responsible cleanup, taking down the balloons and disposing of them properly if we can’t re-use them—which we try to do with the mylar balloons. In everything we offer, we try to focus on being as green as possible by using sustainable, recyclable, or biodegradable supplies. Let’s face it, a lot of what we sell is disposable and I think it’s important to know that we’re doing our very best to do it responsibly.
What’s on the horizon for 2019?
JT: Next year we’re launching office party boxes for things like birthdays, work anniversaries, baby showers, or just for celebrating something great at work. These will be more décor driven, and include a gift and a card. We all spend so much time at work, and it’s inconvenient to have to run out to pick up party supplies during the week, but I think it’s important to take time to celebrate the people you spend most of your day with.