Friday, July 8, 2011

Microsoft Preview and Party

After months of work and planning, I can't believe that the the Microsoft Preview event is over.  Big thanks to everyone who came out yesterday and made it a huge success!  For those of you who missed the story, Microsoft decided to try something new for this year's Preview event to introduce their new products to a select group of editors during the day and a larger group at an evening party. Instead of displaying everything in a white modern space they brought me in to style them into real life situations.  The Xbox 360 would be styled into a living room setting, the Windows Mobile Phones in an outdoor cafe to represent being on the go, and the Windows desktop and laptop computers would be styled on the desks of a fictional family of five.  This entire event was completely out of the comfort zone for both Microsoft and me.  Challenging yourself to try something new can be scary but it is also great way to grow personally and professionally. 

I really want to thank Microsoft for giving me this amazing opportunity and for everyone who was involved in the planning and design.  I want to especially thank my intern Sarah Beth Powers and friend Lori Reich for all their assistance installing and packing up, especially in the Windows area.  I also want to thank the companies that allowed me to borrow products including Smythson, Mrs. John L. Strong, and Diptyque.  One company who went above and beyond is the new office accessories company poppin.  They not only gave me a ton of colorful accessories to style the Windows desks but generously donated notebooks and pens to the gift bags.  You will definitely be hearing more about them in the future and not just from me!

During the day editors were scheduled to appointments that started in this reception area.  For the evening event, the benches were removed and the sofa and chairs from the Xbox 360 area were brought in for lounging.

The Xbox area was opening up to allow for guests to experience Xbox Kinect which was the most popular area for the evening event.  They danced, played golf and other fun games. 

A look at one of the realistic car driving games.

Here I am in the Windows area sitting at the pre-teen girl's desk that I styled.  As I mentioned, the Windows team previewed products around a fictional family of five that included a mom and dad, college daughter, teen son and pre-teen daughter. 

I worked with Microsoft's event company Envy Create to design each space.  We used some pieces from their inventory, rented others and purchased pieces from West Elm and CB2 that were appropriate for the kid's desks. 

Each family member was given a persona which helped define them and which Microsoft products they would use and how.  The pre-teen uses her laptop in her room and occasionally at her friend's house.  She is into style and fashion and loves bright colors.  She also video chats with her friends.
I spent much of my weekend cutting out fashion pictures for her bulletin board and compiling as many pink accessories as possible. I also might have bought a few issues of Tiger Beat for inspiration!

I was very excited to find a drink with packaging that perfectly coordinated with the space.  

Everyone said this was their favorite desk and we all wished we could be a pre-teen again.

I don't have kids but it was interesting to learn about the parental controls that can be installed on their computers from Microsoft.

Another look at the space and shelves separating the pre-teen girl from her teen brother.

The pre-teen girl had a laptop from Dell with different colored shells that can be swapped out as shown by a guest at the evening party. 

The team from poppin stopped by to check out their products in the space.

Meredith Zenkel, the Director of Public Relations for poppin, right, and co-worker enjoying the party.

More guests checking out teen boy desk.

The teen boy loves gaming and music and is concerned with power and style over portability.

His space was designed to be a little more masculine and dark with pops of yellow.

His Vitamin Water and SAT prep book share space on the desk with his headphones and games.

It was really fun filling in the details of each character and finding the right accessories to help represent their age.  I thought about throwing dirty clothes on the floor as all teen boys are wont to do but thought that might be too realistic.

The Beatles poster was a fun and colorful find for the space.

A guest at the party enjoying the teen boy desk laptop and head phones.

More guests enjoying the event.

Big thanks to my intern Sarah Beth Powers and Twitter friend Adam Dadson who are both in college and had great suggestions for the college girl scenario.

The college girl had a desk top computer for tv, movies, games and work and a laptop for class notes and working outside her room.  She is very into social media and stays connected to her family via video chat.

I was very happy that Sarah Beth didn't mind printing out photos of her and her friends at college for this space.

The artist series mouse is colorful and cool.

My friend Jessica Gold Newman and her sister Nina check out the college girl desk during the party. 

The mom was originally supposed to work in real estate but I asked if we could make her an interior designer instead since I would have more accessory options for that story. There was a lot going on all day and people were actually using the laptops for demonstrations so that's why you can see cords in some of the photos. 

For the evening event, the desk was just styled with just two computers as opposed to the three from the day and was neatened up a little bit.  Styling for an event is much different than styling for a photo shoot.

During the evening event, guests could try out all the Microsoft products including mobile phones.

Lindsey Kociela of  Waggener Edstrom shows Donte Chappell, center, and his brother some Windows phone features.

The Microsoft Wireless Mobile Mouse 3500 Studio Series Artist Edition collection of mice with designs by Kirra Jamison, Matt Moore, Linn Olofsdotter, Mike Perry and Jonny Wan were a big hit with guests.

More guests having fun at the evening party.

A look at the Microsoft Mobile Phone area that was designed to look like an outdoor cafe.

The calm before the storm.   

The party was packed from the minute the doors opened which was fun!

Laney Crowell and behind her Tara Eisenberg of Estee Lauder enjoying the candy bar. I want to thank all my blog and twitter friends who came out last night.  I really appreciate all your support and encouragement! 

Me and my new glasses with Donte Chappell, the chicest personal shopper for the J.Crew Men's Store on Madison Avenue.

Dance Central for XBox 360 Kinect was the big hit of the party. The Kinect has a sensor that recognizes all your movements without the need for a controler.   

Families who can't afford a yearly trip to Disneyland can tour the park virtually through Disneyland Adventures for XBox 360 Kinect.  It recreates every detail of the park and looks amazing.  I was really impressed by a lot of the products geared toward children and learned a lot while working on this event for Microsoft.

But again, the highlight of the night was watching everyone have a dance off with Dance Central for Xbox 360 Kinect. 

Everyone got really into it and so many people told me stories of the dance parties they have at home with their friends.  Of course, you have to have a big enough living room which doesn't always happen in New York.

Even I couldn't resist and had dance off with my friend Jessica's husband Joshua Newman to Venus by Bananarama.

Somehow I won but I only think that's because Josh likes to freestyle and you don't get bonus points for doing the worm.  I think the next event should be a Dance Central only event where we give out a mirror ball trophy at the end to the best dancer!

In the end, a good time was had by all as seen by Donte Chappell, right, and his brother and cousin smiling with their gift bags at the end of the night.  I want to thank everyone who came out last night especially Newell Turner, the editor in chief of House Beautiful!  I wish I could have invited you all!  I also want to thank Microsoft again for the opportunity to style their Preview event.  It was an amazing experience and I look forward to working with them again in the future.

Photos by Gary He from Insider Images