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Design Trends: 5 Questions with Heidi Brown

Posted: 10.25.16
Category: Special Events

The DC Metro area has never been hotter as a location in the U.S. All eyes are on it as the nation looks towards a historic election year. For this reason, the city is a cross-cultural standard bearer for event trends. We asked Heidi Brown, an AFR account executive in this area, for an insight into event trends stemming from the beltway.



1. What’s hot right now?

I call it “eclectic residential.” Texture and fabrics are key. Think plush, soft textures in velvet that have a homey comfortable feel paired with dimensional and unique accents. Think wool shag, marble patterns or stylish knit pillows with tables made of both metal and organic material. We have strayed away from overtly themed design ideas for more atmospheric environments. For instance, I love the environment pictured above. Together the cow hide rug, gold-leaf tables and Madison sofa create the perfect artsy, downtown loft-living vibe.




2. What suggestions do you have or would you give a client who is truly looking to impress and put on a spectacular event?

Don't be afraid of bold color and patterns. Of course, white furniture is a blank template that you can always turn into something; it will never go away. However, picking big, bold statement pieces have an immediate visual impact and quickly define the design aesthetic. For example, we brought into our collections velour, canary yellow, mid-century modern lines and it is thrilling to see how clients use it for their events. I love the image above as an illustration of that -- our Oliver chairs and Reagan tables paired with a geometric stage backdrop. But don’t stop there … consider our golden mirror table with a grass bench for an enchanted forest look or, well you get the picture – there are no limits to what imagination can do!



3. How can a client get the most out of AFR’s collections to really wow their guests?

Don't forget about height. Complete the grouping with a shelving unit or sofa table paired with floral or themed accents that tie it all together such as the wood screens in the photo above. These pieces also help with my second tip: Think outside the normal layout. Furniture and other rentals are the primary way to define your space and flow. Try creating banquet seating in clover-shaped pods or use risers to add tiers and levels for your lounge areas. I love both the photos above for this. Both the pairing of collections and the space they are in help tell a new design story each time.



4. What is one of the most important tips you can give someone on collaboration with AFR?

Just because we as a rental company decide to label a product a certain way, doesn't mean it’s their only use. Our “Hayden bench” can also be used as a coffee table, a stacking piece on top of a buffet table to give it height, or even a dining table for a tea ceremony. Try to re-imagine the items and ask us how we've seen them used.  For instance, in the photo above, our Blox bar backs have been assembled together to create a unique stage backdrop.




5. Final words of wisdom you can pass along?

Have an in-depth talk with your account executive about your objectives and needs. We know our collections and have probably put many of them together in ways you never imagined, such as the photo above. Let us work together to help create your vision and re-imagine your event design.




Heidi Brown has been a Design Specialist /Account Executive for the AFR DC Metro area since 2008. Contact her at

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