Behind the Scenes: Designing ADCHELLA

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Behind the Scenes: Designing ADCHELLA "April 6, 2017

An inside look at designing the event space for ADCHELLA — The American Advertising Awards in Washington, D.C.

How do you transform a museum into a trippy Wonderland-like dreamspace? It starts with a vibe. And a palette of sunset hues. And maybe an inflatable palm tree or two. Or Three. Or, ok, twelve. And you take it from there.

So went the design process for ADCHELLA — the 57th annual American Advertising Awards held on March 24, 2017 at Newseum. As we mentioned in an earlier blog post, PCI was excited to play an integral part in ADCHELLA’s concept, creative and event design. Now that it’s a wrap, we wanted to give our readers a behind-the-scenes look at how we designed the event space.


The overall look of ADCHELLA was inspired by the whimsical style of the Coachella music festival. We wanted to create a sense of fun and excitement, and the color palette we chose (shades of pink, violet, orange and white, reminiscent of a desert sunset) helped set that mood for the evening. The color branding also played close to the official ADCHELLA logo, designed by PCI’s Linda Lam:

Linda’s design evokes a bohemian-chic feel that is trendsetting, irreverent, and free, with a distinct nod to D.C. agency life: a geometric, modern and crisp lettering of 'AD' for 'advertising'; a bold silhouette of the Washington Monument; the hand-drawn letters of 'chella’; a subtle hint of a music note in the letter 'e’; and bright, bold colors that evoke energy, warmth, and celebration. In the gallery below, you’ll see how the logo played an important role in the overall event design.


So what’s the first step to transforming a classic D.C. institution like Newseum into a bohemian-chic party venue? As with any design project, you look first at budget and timeline to see what’s possible. From there, you consider the audience. Because our attendees were a creative crowd, we thought it would be fun to capture a bit of an Alice in Wonderland, hallucinogenic atmosphere. Here’s a rendering I created in Photoshop to visualize decor and lighting around this concept:

The transformation was an easy task after the rendering was approved. We used it as our guide, which made setup quick and easy on the day of the event. To bring a bit of the desert into the space, we brought in inflatable set pieces (12 large white cactuses) that I had previously used for a few Rodeo Drive events when I worked in Los Angeles. We only had two hours to execute the entire design, so installing inflatable props helped us set up the event space relatively fast.

Overall, the process was seamless with the exception of one slight hitch: at Newseum, there is a major concern about anything inflatable. The venue apparently has a high-tech laser security system and if anything broke the beam, the entire building would go on lockdown. It took some convincing that all would be safe with our design concept.

So that’s the scoop! We had a blast designing the event and give huge shout-outs to the American Advertising Federation of D.C. for all of their help, and to the Newseum for trusting our creative vision. Check out our gallery below to see the transformed space!

Ready for more?

Want another behind-the-scenes look at PCI’s creative process? Check out our recent collaboration with Neo-Victorian illustrator Otto Von Beach.

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