Washington Life Magazine
Washington Life Magazine
Entertaining In Style: Q & A with David Tutera
David Tutera

The “Tutera Touch” is sought by some of the most prestigious namesand organizations in the world. David Tutera’s signature style is the culmination ofsimultaneous creative vision, artistic conceptualization, and an intrinsic understandingof effective utilization of space. He has planned events for such celebrities as formerVice President Gore at the White House, Kenneth Cole, Elton John, Tommy Hilfiger and theRolling Stones as well as events at Lincoln Center and The Kennedy Center. He is currentlydesigning two spring D.C. events: the Cancer Research and Prevention Foundation Eventin March and The Kennedy Center’s Spring Gala in April. He is also a book author, whose latest offering is “America Entertains at Home.” We asked Davidto share some of his expertise with WL readers.

Washington Life:You’ve designed parties for the White House, the Rolling Stones, Elton John, and the BritishRoyal Family, among others. Can you tell us about some over-the-top partiesyou’ve been to or created?

David Tutera:I produced and designed a five consecutive day event in the Dominican Republic. There weredaytime parties on private beaches and yachts, as well as a final blow out partyin an all-white tent on the beach with a private concert by Latin Grammy winner Elvis Crespowith a spectacular fireworks show on the beach.

I also produced and designed a very special wedding for a client inConnecticut. Just after cocktails, a full fireworks show went off over thecoast in all white lights as guests moved from the cocktail tent to the dinnertent. I used strong colors of chartreuse, orange, and red to transform a tent onthe beach into an exotic paradise.

I’m designing the 45th Annual Post-Grammy Party in New York City inJanuary. Six ballrooms will be completely transformed into chic, sexy andfunky lounges. There will be an all-red lounge, as well as a hot Latin roomalong with an all-white room complete with a forty foot long by twenty foothigh wall of water that will have video images of past Grammy show projectedonto the wall of water.

WL:What trends in home entertaining have you witnessed recently? Whatchanges do you predict will mark home entertaining this coming year?

DT:Create one-of-a-kind martinis drinks when entertaining at home.Guests love to try and see something new and interesting. You can also create self-service barsby placing recipes in frames along with all ingredients/tools so that guests can make themthemselves. Also, when entertaining at home, try a progressive party. Start by servingthe first course outside, main entrée in your dining room, and then dessert inyour kitchen. If you’re friendly with your neighbors, have each course in a different home.

As far as design is concerned, sophisticated styles instead of themes are beingcreated. Think like an interior designer.

WL:Who are the best lighting designers you’ve worked with in D.C. and N.Y.?

DT:Atmospere and Frost are both wonderful.

WL:When you use music at one of your parties, who do you use for sound in D.C.and N.Y.?

DT:All Stage and Sound is great.

WL:You’ve been described as possessing “simultaneous creative vision,” Can youexplain this? And, can you describe some of the unique challenges you’ve faced intransforming your creative visions to reality?

DT:Since I always create design ideas that are unique and special, each andevery event creates an obstacle. I don’t like to do what is typical or easy. I havedesigned The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts Gala for fouryears. One season I actually hung more than 90 crystal chandeliers over theguest tables. I achieved this by installing a grid of aircraft cable in the ceilingto allow for each chandelier to float over each guest table.

This past December I designed the National Symphony Ball at The Building Museum, where Ialso designed the Cancer Research Foundation Ball. In this very cavernous space I drapedthe entire room with fabric, as well as flew moving scarves of fabric across the ceiling.The trick was creating a more intimate dining environment for 1000 guests.

Creating a variety of table designs helps to break up a typical cookie cutterdesign that I find most designers tend to do.

WL:What are three tips for a successful private party?

DT:Be original, be organized, and most importantly, be a guest at yourown party. To be a great host, you have responsibilities to uphold, so enjoy theprocess, but most of all be unique.


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