Written by: Zein Al-Nemri & Carlene McDavid
“First impressions matter.” It’s a saying that we’ve all heard time and time again. When it comes to hosting an event, there are many factors to consider for it to become a success. When you walk into a space, the first judgements you will cast are based upon what you see. The visuals that meet your eye have a tremendous affect on your psychology. Thus, the role of the Creative Director is a powerful and influential role that should not be overlooked. See what we did there… 😉
Meet Pao Lopez. Pao’s event decorations have been taking the electronic music world by storm, and her influence has been stacking up at an impressive rate. Holding the title as Creative Director for prestigious events including Guy Gerber’s Sunday Rumors party in Ibiza, Output in New York, SXMusic Festival, All Day I Dream in Europe and Toronto’s Electric Island summer concert + picnic series, Pao is quickly making a name for herself. Just one day before Electric Island’s Canada Day show, and caught in the thick of the chaos and construction, we sat down with Pao to discuss life, passion and creative direction.
Walk us through your journey, where did it all begin?
I was born in New York, but I’m originally Colombian and I spent most of my life there with my family. I came back to New York eight years ago to study fashion design and at the time that was all I wanted to do. I created a fashion brand called Room 305; it was really minimalistic, mostly unisex clothes. I created stuff that I wanted to wear that I couldn’t seem to find anywhere, and clothes that I know the people around me would have enjoyed wearing.
I think that’s when I felt the music world and my fashion brand truly intersect.
How did you make the transition from fashion all the way to the music world?
Well, all of my clothes were already very related to music because I was always into house and techno music, so the inspiration seeped its way in from the beginning. I even used to sell clothes to save money to go to festivals. I just followed the music I loved, and eventually made enough to go to Europe, which was huge. I then started selling my clothes at different parties, like tINI and the gang’s. I also made clothes that DJs like to wear and I remember at one point, so many DJs were wearing my clothes, and I wasn’t even paying them to! I think that’s when I felt the music world and my fashion brand truly intersect.
That’s amazing! What happened next?
It was really cool because I’m also passionate about photography and began to work as a photographer here and there. I went to Ibiza and one of my first jobs was as a photographer for Guy Gerber’s Wisdom of the Glove. I was making and selling clothes, while taking pictures for the event, and then slowly began helping out with the decorations for fun. I just wanted to get my hands in anything creative. It started by just placing some flowers in DJ booths and making flyers, then, the whole decorating job started to grow. As I started to design more and more parties, I was offered to be the Creative Director for Guy Gerber’s Rumors in Ibiza and it just blew up from there. Before I knew it, it became my full time job and it was the best thing that could have happened to me. Despite everything I work on, I like to think of Rumors as my version of a residency.
When creating a specific event, what’s your creative process like?
My style in decorating is very connected to nature; I always try to include something specific from the area the event is happening in. Then, I add something completely surrealistic, I want to take people to a different dimension. I want them to have an entire experience within the party, and I found that it becomes a collaboration where the decorations and music are completely intertwined. When it works, it’s magical to me. I remember once during a harsh winter in New York, we did an amazing party where we placed LED palm trees in the club and tropical animals. I wanted to transport people to forget the fact that they were in the middle of a storm.
Despite everything I work on, I like to think of Rumors as my version of a residency.
What’s something you think people don’t realize when they look at the decorations that go into these events?
How much physical work goes into everything! Designing the entire layout, finding and travelling with the materials, getting onto the ladder and hanging up everything. It all takes an insane amount of effort. I have trees and bird decorations coming out of my purse at security in the airport sometimes, it’s hilarious!
What is the most unique part of this line of work?
Since it allows for so much creative freedom, my work is so special to me. I get to work with extremely talented people, and it’s always a blast. In January we did a Blond:ish event in Tulum, they sent me their album and told me to create whatever I wanted based on the music, so we did this really cool thing with mushrooms. Everything was hands-on — we literally handmade every decoration. I put my entire heart into it and that’s why I make sure each gig I get is because I genuinely love to do that specific work, for those specific artists, and hope to always keep it this way. Bring some friends to work, bring some tequila, bring a smile on your face and let’s just do this together. I want to have fun; I call this the Pao Way.
Yes! I learned not to take any gigs I am not passionate about, and to not spread myself too thin. Once, I took five gigs in one weekend and I just wanted to cry the entire time, I couldn’t do what I usually do and it was an utter disaster.
Bring some friends to work, bring some tequila, bring a smile on your face and let’s just do this together. I want to have fun; I call this the Pao Way.
Lastly, what was your inspiration behind this year’s Electric Island series?
For Electric Island, I was completely motivated by the location; the Island is so beautiful, and completely surrounded by nature and unreal views of the skyline. I wanted to play with the reflections of the trees and people dancing, so incorporating mirrors worked out really well. Tomorrow is Canada Day, so we custom ordered red and white flowers. The team here is so friendly and helpful, and without people like Matt and Thomas it wouldn’t have been such an incredible experience!
We’d like to extend a very special thank-you to Pao Lopez for taking the time to share her passion and words with us!