LED cubes being used at a J.W. Marriott space for outdoor events

Elevate Outdoor Events With This Year’s 4 Hottest Design Trends

Hosting outdoor events is a fun way to gather and celebrate the new season. After all, as warm weather approaches, we all look to spend more time outdoors. But just because an event is outside, that doesn’t mean the need for a theme or decor goes away. So as you look to plan spaces for outdoor events this summer, consider playing up a selection of the season’s hottest decor trends to design the perfect event experience.

Outdoor Events Are On the Rise

Outdoor spaces aren’t just sought out for strictly outdoor events. In fact, a recent study from the IACC shows that meeting and event planners are incorporating outdoor breakout spaces and elements more than ever — all in an effort to get attendees outside of the four walls of the ballroom. And whether the event is completely outdoors or just using the outdoors for adjacent spaces, capitalizing on timely trends is a key part of setting the tone that will help you meet your objective.

elements of meeting venues that are most important to event planners

This Season’s Hottest Outdoor Design Trends

Transitional Furniture

During your summer soiree, incorporate furniture suitable for lounging, networking, and socializing. Mix up seating with dining areas and plenty of bar tables for drinks and food plates while guests mingle. Utilize modular and functional furniture to fit any patio, lawn or pool deck. A sectional in a warm gray tone is the perfect gray neutral to serve the canvas for any summer color pallet. Be sure to have more than enough bar tables for guests to casually network while they eat and drink. Guests should never have to wander, wanting for a place to settle.

Mediterranean-inspired throw pillows and wire tables for outdoor use

Throw pillow and wire tables from CORT.

Pro tip: Technology can lend a hand in bringing in versatile furniture and creating a concept that works for the flow and function of the event. Social Tables helps event planners do just that during the event planning process through easy-to-create 2D or 3D diagramming that lets you visualize the venue and layout. Planners can choose what will work best for the space, while maximizing the comfort and ease with which  guests can move around, make connections and engage with each other.

Bold Yet Classic Color Palettes and Patterns

Color is everywhere this summer and blue is dominating palettes and patterns. With the versatility to play up any theme or mood you’re looking to create for your event, blue is both bold and classic. Sultry and seductive hues of deep blue paired with green jungle patterns and palm accent pieces make for a festive and funky feel. Antiqued whites and blues play nicely with clean lines and crisp summer linens for a completely different aesthetic.

Ottoman and throw pillow for use in outdoor events.

Vibe Cube Ottoman from CORT furniture.

Use accent pieces to bring in the colors. Go beyond throw pillows and play up the seasonal colors with outdoor wire tables in green, blue and white. Vibe Cube Ottomans provide versatile vibrant outdoor seating in summer hues and can be easily moved around for casual networking.

Go Palm Beach Chic for a cool, casual vibe at outdoor soirees this season. Tropical pillows channel the easy essence of the 70’s and cool prints from that era allow you to casually incorporate a playful, luxurious feel to your seating arrangements.

Pro tip: To add visual interest and light up your party after dark, use lighted plastic orbs, cubes, tables and columns. These LED pieces help set the mood and add additional color when the sun goes down. Battery operated options are available to allow for lighting away from electrical outlets.

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Mediterranean Influences

For international inspiration, think Mediterranean. Tuscan-style gardens make ornate foliage a centerpiece of any outdoor gathering. Black and white with punches of color provide balance and fun against a backdrop of extravagant greenery. Go north to the French Riviera for an easy, chic feel. Mix furnishings with wood tables and benches and don’t forget to finish with marble table tops.

Pro tip: Define the space with faux boxwood hedges to create more intimate outdoor areas that are luxurious. Add florals to the hedges to bring in a hanging garden look that makes your space feel romantic.

Indoor Comforts Outdoors

The guest experience is always the most important factor of an event. The summer months are a beautiful time to be outdoors but can leave guests hot and dehydrated. Provide water stations throughout the venue, offering guests water infused with citrus or fruits so they can stay hydrated. Guests can help themselves without lining up for the bar and the stations look gorgeous when paired with linens. Be sure to place bug spray around the tables and have plenty of citronella candles flickering, adding to the ambiance and protecting your guests from mosquitoes.

Transitional furniture for outdoor events

The Dune Sectional from CORT furniture.

Pro tip: Provide more shade than you think your guests will need. The weather can be unpredictable, and a sweltering afternoon can ruin the upbeat vibe of even the most extravagant event. If you don’t have lots of covered patio space, be sure to place large umbrellas over seating groupings, dining and bar tables to keep your guests cool and comfortable.

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Loving a trend we left off of this list? Let us know in the comments or share the flair on Twitter.

Kevin Dana

Drawing expertise from more than 20 years in trade show and events, Kevin Dana, executive director of marketing and product development at CORT Events, is responsible for national marketing strategy across all channels and developed CORT’s proprietary event furniture brands. To learn more about CORT’s exhibit and event rental collections or its Social Tables integration, visit www.cortevents.com.