HBO Emmy Awards Party: Behind the Design

Photo by: Gabor Ekecs HBO's Emmy Awards after party 2013, designed by Billy Butchkavitz.

Now that the hoopla for the weeklong myriad of Emmy award parties has died down, we at FrontDoor bring you a little of what goes on behind the scenes to put these elaborate events on. Every detail is taken under consideration – everything from the lighting to the furniture!

HBO’s elaborate post party was exquisitely designed by Billy Butchkavitz. “We make the guests feel special – at any HBO party, everybody is a star. We have been at the Pacific Design Center for 11 years now and each time I try to ‘surprise’ the guests with a with a totally different environment/experience."

“It takes lots and lots of pre-planning,” said Butchkavitz, who is already busy working on the HBO Golden Globes Party. “We start brainstorming at least seven months prior to an event. All of this is custom – from the carpet to the perimeter decor. I have to place my orders early, especially since I am dealing with overseas manufacturers.”

Butchkavitz believes that being uber organized is the key to keeping everything running smoothly.

“Nowadays most people rely on electronic information, but I carry hard copies of all my orders, timelines, permits, etc. And while it is a little annoying to carry around two rolling briefcases full of orders, fabric swatches, diagrams, etc., it enables me to have the answer or solve the problem at meetings or on the construction site!”

Photo by: Gabor Ekecs Lounge area at HBO's Emmy Awards after party 2013, designed by Billy Butchkavitz.

HBO has an overall decor theme for each party which Butchkavitz creates. “Sometimes it starts with a color palette or I am inspired by architecture or something from nature. Usually my initial ideas come to me while I am swimming,” he said.

Butchkavitz begins construction eight days prior to the event and the tear down takes three days. The entire Pacific Design Center plaza is covered with a sub floor ranging in height from 12 inches to 36 feet high. The back portion of the event is enclosed by a 25-foot high wall that is 250 feet in length.

“We use 50,000 square feet of custom carpeting. All signage and press walls are designed to coordinate with the decor – everything from the colors to the patterns. We also work with the sponsors for their mini lounges, showing them renderings and swatches,” he noted.

Billy Butchkavitz (left), designer of HBO's Emmy Awards after party 2013, poses with his sister and brother, who helped pull the event together.

Of course, one man cannot run everything, which is why Butchkavitz works alongside his brother and sister. And he has an army of other helpers, too! “In addition to the standard catering waitstaff, we brought in 20 VIP waitstaff from Spago Beverly Hills as well as a maitre d’.”

As any patron of the party realizes, the waitstaff are all extremely well dressed. “For most of the events I design, I provide some sort of waitstaff uniform that works with the decor. This year, I did turquoise bistro aprons with an embroidered HBO logo in silver, with a silver vest and silver tie.”

For this Emmy reception, Wolfgang Puck did the catering. “We have a tasting a few months prior, where we give direction as to the type of menu that we are looking for. We go back and forth with likes and dislikes. This year, Wolfgang Puck catering had a very strong influence in the direction of the menu.”

Butchkavitz has some great tips for doing a big party in your own home. Most importantly: “Make sure your house is clean – remove the clutter!” he quipped.

Some nice background music would create a nice mood too, Butchkavitz said. “I am a big fan of 1960s cocktail music lighting; I like old fashioned light bulbs that can be dimmed. I love candles but you need to put them in safe places! Also loose flowers in vases or potted orchids are lovely and an assortment of food. Make sure you have something for everyone, including vegetarians and anyone with dietary restrictions.” Butchkavitz also recommends an assortment of drinks including non-alcoholic options.

Last but not least: “At smaller at home parties, if you can avoid using disposable plates and silverware, please do. I really like using ‘real’ dishes, glassware and flatware."

Los Angeles Confidential Magazine’s annual Emmy Kickoff party.

Celebrities were out in full force at many of the other Emmy-related parties.

“My favorite room in my house is the kitchen. The family is in there all the time and we all cook,” said Scott Bakula at The British Academy of Film and Television Arts Los Angeles (BAFTA Los Angeles) annual tea party. “We have an organic garden outside the back door that my wife put in a few years ago. And there’s an outdoor fireplace that we love.” Bakula was recently seen in HBO’s Behind the Candelabra, which won several awards at the Emmys.

BAFTA’s outdoor garden party, held at the SLS Hotel in Beverly Hills, celebrated excellence in television by honoring this year's nominees from the UK, Commonwealth and America. Leading television executives, celebrities, BAFTA members, as well enjoyed cucumber and cream cheese sandwiches and scones, as they bid on unique items in the silent auction to raise funds for BAFTA Los Angeles Community Outreach and Education programs.

MTA Events producer Michael Teta brought in slicks on the mirrors to give their presenting sponsors, BBC America and Audi, some good signage. "Los Angeles is hard to convert into an English tea garden party so we just tried to do very clean, sophisticated things. We took little teapots and made them into vases, I picked out white sofas from the SLS that would match the decor, which had a Soho House feel. BAFTA being a non profit, we watch our budgets on this. We also framed out the TV plasma monitors to match the look of the room so they would blend in. And we served the ultimate British daytime cocktail: the gin and tonic."

Next up for Teta is BAFTA's Britannica Awards at The Beverly Hilton next month. George Clooney, Katherine Bigelow, Benedict Cumberbatch and Sir Ben Kingsley are being honored. "That one will have an English pub feel! It's very exciting!" he said.

At Los Angeles Confidential Magazine’s annual Emmy Kickoff party, Allison Holker, a dancer on So You Think You Can Dance, talked about her favorite room to get ready for a red carpet. “I like to be in my bedroom and have the television playing. I sometimes love to just lie in bed, and sit in front of the very big wall mirror, just to make myself feel very comfortable. It’s definitely not a stressful environment!” The party, which was held at Mr. C Beverly Hills, was packed with Hollywood elite who enjoyed a musical performance by The Earth Harp Collective while sipping on specialty cocktails by KETEL ONE® Vodka. This annual event helped benefit St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.


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