Event designers Amit Lata and Karan Singh Parmar, the duo behind the company Twelve Tomatoes, have successfully transformed many clients’ fantasies into reality with their imaginative floral decor. A curious Zaral Shah gets some answers about how their profession has been altered by the ever-present influence, pressure even, of social media
The event industry has evolved to a point where the emphasis appears to be on personalisation, by both clients and businesses. How has this affected your approach?
We definitely have seen clients asking for more bespoke options that cater to their specific tastes. We think a lot of it is due to wider exposure owing to travel and the internet. Moreover, there is always a drive to do something authentic. We, however, encourage our clients to personalise only where it will lead to a tangible improvement in their guests’ experience. Otherwise, it is very easy to get carried away and, say, slap your wedding logo or initials on everything, which makes it feel more like a corporate event and, at times, can even come across as a bit distasteful. For us, it’s the little details that matter the most.
What role do social media platforms, Instagram in particular, play in the planning stages?
Instagram is a major influence in design. The art of sharing has allowed people to virtually experience someone else’s reality almost in real time. But, we do covet the true experience of what we see on the screen – be it a pair of shoes someone owns, a restaurant where our favourite actor dined, or the flowers that someone’s loved one sent them. And we save these references on a secret page on Pinterest, or in a folder on Instagram until we have the opportunity to turn them into our realities. It’s good, in a way, that we are able to see what the clients respond to and understand their sensibilities. The only disadvantage is that this can sometimes lead to unreasonable requests.
In addition to what they see on the pages of celebrities and influencers, what do you think guides or affects the choices that people make?
Apart from celebrity weddings, movies and popular travel destinations play a huge part in influencing people. There were a plethora of Great Gatsby themed parties a few years ago, and brides who requested their wedding to be similar to the wedding scene in Twilight. Crazy Rich Asians is the current favourite. We try to discourage clients from going down this route — it is one thing to be inspired by an element, but what’s the fun in recreating an entire movie set, or a certain city? These parties end up making you feel like you’re in a theme park, and there is nothing memorable about them.
What is the most unusual or bizarre thing that you have been asked to create?
The most unusual request has been to design a sangeet based on the movie Avatar. Since almost everything in that movie was computer generated and far from reality, it was rather audacious to try to imagine recreating even an essence of that film. But we got into it, saw the movie over and over again and identified elements which could be physically created without looking gimmicky and within a certain budget and time frame. It was loads of fun!
In the conceptualisation process, how big a role do the surroundings play? Do the colour scheme of the venue, season and time of the event, local produce etc. influence your designs?
All these elements play an important part in the final design. Flowers are seasonal, and you have to work with what’s available. We’ve been encouraging farmers to grow different varieties of flowers and introduce them into a market that offers only a few varieties. One can either design events and floral arrangements which are in complete harmony with the surroundings — where the colour palette is harmonious and complementary — or do the complete opposite! For example, a party in the middle of winter could use cool colours, pretty European flowers, or you could design it like a tropical jungle, with reds and oranges. Both approaches are valid, and depend on the client’s taste.
How do you manage the waste that is generated from large-scale events, the flowers in particular?
Sadly there isn’t a system in place to take care of the vast amount of waste which is generated each day, whether from events or from our daily lives. One good thing about events is that other than products prone to rapid decay, most of the raw materials have a long shelf life and can be reused. With flowers, there are many options. For instance, the Philippine Embassy in Delhi didn’t want to waste the flowers we had used for one of their events, so they later asked us to send them all to the local church — a lot of people do that. Some clients also donate the flowers to NGOs, so that kids can use them to make potpourri and organic Holi colours.
Also, not everybody can afford one-of-a-kind flowers. So, if we’ve done custom designs for someone, and the host or the guests do not want to keep the flowers afterwards, our florist (who does different events on his own) might use these pre-made arrangements for people whose functions may not be too high-end and who would be happy to have them.