Event designer Bronson Van Wyck is a known quantity to the fashion crowd—over the years, he’s masterminded memorable events for the likes of Bergdorf Goodman (remember its 111th anniversary party?), Burberry, MaxMara, and many more. Now, he’s launching Workshop Worldwide, a new branch of his 15-year-old company, Van Wyck & Van Wyck, that focuses on creating engaging platforms for brand communication.
Bronson, how has the end goal of a luxury brand event evolved over the course of your career?
The goal has always been the same: Sophisticated brands have always used events to connect and engage with customers. How we get there has changed, because we’re operating in a different world. For brand events, the potential ROI has never been higher. In the past, events were about celebration, and they still are of course; but now they are about telling your story and creating content that reaches far beyond the event itself.
How has the scope of your responsibilities evolved?
We turn guests into advocates. We create opportunities for our clients to engage and interact with consumers, build meaningful relationships with individuals that extend beyond an event, and inspire and motivate them to become better customers and better ambassadors for the brand. I started my event business because I wanted to create the coolest, most fun celebrations for the absolute best clients in the world, and we’ve been doing that for 15 years. Workshop is doing something different. Hospitality is one tool in our toolbox, but it is only a tool. It’s not the goal in itself.
Why did you sense an opportunity for this new venture?
Social and digital media has altered the social landscape at the same time that it has exponentially expanded the potential reach of events. This presents massive opportunities. It also means the brands are leaving money on the table if they don’t adapt their strategies and effectively leverage their investment in event programs to create compelling content. This is where we come in. Workshop works with clients to build an event strategy that delivers in measurable, quantifiable ways. Workshop turns events into conversations, into storytelling opportunities, into platforms for the generation of interesting, relevant, compelling content.
What kind of team have you assembled for Workshop?
Workshop has brought together the best of the best of creative talents who also understand business needs. We have expertise in product launches, runway shows and fashion presentations, red carpets, and exhibitions, as well as multi-market tours, concerts, and social media-driven stunts. I looked around the workshop the other day, and I realized that we are a team with well over 100 years of collective experience building and defining brands, and yet the average age of our employees is under 30. That represents an insanely capable combination of wisdom and experience; cutting edge, youthful, of-the-moment energy and insight; and an innate understanding of the consumer of today and tomorrow.
What are Workshop’s first few initiatives?
Workshop has had this incredible outflowing of support from our long-standing clients: Chanel, Tiffany, Jimmy Choo, which is celebrating its 20thanniversary this year, Architectural Digest, Vacheron, and Hearst Corporation. Next up is developing a series of digital influencer diaries for Trisha Gregory and Alex Rose’s new venture, Armarium. Our California workshop is putting together a thought leadership summit bringing together the very top players in Silicon Valley and Hollywood. We are building a proprietary content aggregation capability in the cloud that will enable our clients to assemble and manage their content in real time, and we are working to create an influencer network that will eventually allow our clients to have access to more than a billion consumers.
Is there any space in New York where you haven’t yet thrown an event that you’d like to tackle?
Well, I’m an art director and set designer, so of course I like raw spaces. You can take a vision and build it from the ground up. New York still has lots of run-down warehouses and architectural relics way up in Harlem and The Bronx, remnants of a time when we actually built things here.
Where is the farthest-flung place your job has taken you?
Wow. On this planet? We just started working with a client who is planning to send people into space. That really is the final frontier. I haven’t made it there yet, but we’ve worked in Europe, the Americas, and soon, Asia.
What does it take to be successful in the Workshop squad?
We get there early and we stay there late. We embrace change and we learn constantly. We like eaters and drinkers—people who know how to appeal to guests’ emotions, who understand how to create sensory overload. What is the stunning visual that will rivet everyone’s attention? What is the stunt that everyone will talk about? Will the lighting look good both to those in the room and when photographed? How do you create energy in the room—how will that electricity translate when filmed? We are going beyond just impressing guests. We want to inspire them to such a degree that they are motivated to share their experience with everyone they know. The most successful brands put the power of a party in their guests’ hands. We look for people who help us make that happen.