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YPO 'Casino Royale' New Year's Eve party

The three Istanbul chapters of YPO hold an annual New Year's Eve celebration and this year they wanted to host their celebration at one of Istanbul's most historic and yet best-kept secrets - a former 18th century casino housed above what is now a shopping and entertainment centre.  The faded grandeur of the place was the perfect starting point for a Monte Carlo-inspired James Bond theme.  However, due to legal restrictions on gambling in Turkey, we had to decorate the place to feel like a casino while not actually allowing any real gambling or even imitation gambling to take place.  Quite a challenge for a casino themed party! 

Seen here: the rooms before decoration.

Moodboard for the event

My initial design for the room: I wanted to keep the theme elegant and sophisticated so it reminded people more of Monte Carlo rather than Las Vegas.  I kept the ornate stuccoed walls as bare as possible to contrast with the rich velvets and gold tones so that the ambiance was one of simple luxury.

My invitation design was sent via sms to guests and was deliberately designed to create a sense of mystery and glamour. The dresscode was very important so we also sent out an accompanying SMS message detailing acceptable attire options.

The design of the doorway was inspired by a real casino entrance in Monte Carlo.

Guests were served champagne by waiters with silver trays lining this entrance hall of curtains and exotic standing lamps.

The bar was decorated with dramatic arrangements of palm leaves painted platinum.

A corner of the lounge showing wall hangings of black and gold playing cards. In the background, 'Buffet Royal' sign can be seen; because the space was divided up into separate rooms, I was concerned guests wouldn't necessarily see the buffet room.  To solve this, I created a light-up neon sign that was lit when the buffet was ready and then turned off again after service, giving people an elegant visual clue that the buffets were open.

A detail of the main bar showing custom-printed gold-leaf napkins and James bond revolver-style lamps.  The bar surface was covered in poker cloth as a fun detail.

A specialist martini bar in the corner of one of the rooms.