Industry Insiders: David Stark, Designing Man

The President and Creative Director of David Stark Design and Production on

What are your establishments of choice? I love to be around the pool at The Standard Hotel in Miami. The location is stunning over the water. I like to go to Frankie’s on Court Street in Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn for a bowl of meatballs. I adore Bemelman’s Bar at the Carlyle Hotel. The murals are so amazing. I happen to be super-addicted to the Le Pain Quotidien. I adore their granola bar. People think I’m out of my mind, but I totally love cereal. I’m also obsessed with the Au Bon Pain in the train station in Washington, D.C.

What do you do? Among other things, I’ve produced and designed the Huffington Post’s pre-inaugural ball in Washington, D.C., the Whitney Museum of American Arts gala for Versace, and The Robin Hood Foundation’s fund raising galas for the past eight years. I’ve worked with various well known personalities to produce events everywhere, from Sundance to MoMA to Target. People and foundations come to us because we turn their event into a living art installation. The most sophisticated people in the world are every night during the week and see everything, so how can it be special for the people who have seen it all? Our objective is to elevate entertaining to an art form.

Who are your Industry Icons? My dear friend and client, Lori Fabiano, formerly the Director of Events for the Robin Hood Foundation. She has really proved to be an inspiration, and she gets the big picture and what can be built into an event. She’s one of the people who made that charity into a powerhouse organization. Carla Rubin from Creative Edge Parties is really fabulous to work with. She’s really chic and gets it about food service, and is truly an out-of-the-box thinker tuned to innovative ideas.

Have you noticed any positive trends in these hard economic times? One of the things that’s nice about the difficult economy is that it’s creating more of the community, more camaraderie. There’s a sharing of ideas, the sharing of knowledge and experience with other event professionals. When times were bubbling over financially, everyone was focused on their own successes, and now there’s a desire for value and service. I always tell our staff that it’s important to make the event incredible, but that the journey along the way needs to be amazing as well.

And negative trends? One of the things that’s lovely in the past several years is that the industry has moved away from a commissioned-based system for referrals. I’m extremely against under the table commissions. We all get paid to do our jobs, and that’s the money we’re all entitled to make. I love to refer people who do a fabulous job, solely because they’re wonderful professionals who provide the quality of service our clients require. I carry the torch of change for a commission-less society.

What is something that people might not know about you? One of the secret things is that I like to make a pot of soup. Come Sunday, all I want to do is make a huge pot of soup from scratch and fall into complete relaxation.

Who’s your favorite recording artist? I’m in love with Beyonce.

What’s on the horizon in ’09? We’re doing a line with West Elm of holiday décor and tabletop items coming out next holiday season, 2009.

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