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'My mother always told me that every 10 years you should change directions in your career, otherwise you get bored," says events designer Patty Gavish. For Gavish, following her mother's advice opened some unexpected doors.
Born in Uruguay, Gavish made aliya to Israel in 1971 at the age of 10 with her family.
"My parents are big Zionists," says Gavish, who says she never fully grew accustomed to the differences in mentality between Israel and Uruguay. "The Uruguay I grew up in was very European, and Israel was a shock for me."
At 25, after serving her obligatory army duty, Gavish moved to London to study architecture. She spent the next nine years there, finishing her degree at the School of Architecture and working for two firms. In the early 1990s, Gavish returned to Israel and opened her own firm.
"I worked as an architect, and I was teaching architecture classes at Bezalel and a few other places, but I didn't like the architecture part, and I started teaching more and more and taking fewer and fewer clients," Gavish recalls.
Working with Israeli clients usually entailed designing homes that were either just like the neighbors' or lacked originality.
"There was no vision and only a small amount of creativity. I was disillusioned and ready for something else," she says.
One afternoon in Jerusalem she shared her frustrations with a client, who suggested event designing as an alternative to consider.
"I had never heard of it. I always designed my own events, and I thought everyone did," remembers Gavish, who immediately started researching the profession. "About five years ago, I decided to open my own business as an events designer, and I have never looked back."
Today, Gavish designs the space for a variety of occasions - from bar and bat mitzvas and large corporate events to birthday parties and unusual weddings.
"Any event people need help conceptualizing or designing is where I come in. I've done a lot of events, and each one is different," she explains.
Shortly after changing careers, Gavish made several trips to Japan to study Japanese flower arrangement techniques, but says her background in architecture provided all of the necessary foundations to work effectively.
"Event design is exactly like architecture in the arrangement of things within a certain space," she says. "But in this case, it only lasts for one night."
One of the most interesting aspects of the job as an events designer is meeting the challenge of translating people's mental dreams into physical realities.
For one recent occasion, Gavish's client, the bride-to-be, wanted the feeling of the "Mad Hatter's tea party" - like the one in Alice in Wonderland - at her wedding. In order to create an ambiance of delightful madness, Gavish brought in funky vases of all shapes and sizes and filled them with clouds of babies' breath. To highlight the pale flowers, a different shade of pastel-colored water filled the translucent vases - one hue for each table. Soft blue lighting and a mushroom-shaped antique tent gave the space a mysterious aura, while boxes of chocolate and candy beneath each table added an element of festive surprise.
"We also hung delicate strands of flowers and ribbons from the top of the main tent," says Gavish. "It was magical."
Gavish usually rents furniture and brings her own fabric, ribbons, flowers, lighting and accessories from an enormous personal collection in order to create whatever her client wants.
"Each event is different, and everyone wants something unique," she says. "We never repeat ourselves, so we are always coming up with new ideas and new ways of making their dreams come true."
Sometimes Gavish asks clients to make an inspiration book with photos and ideas in order to better pinpoint what they want.
"I have one couple that want a Bali, Indonesian atmosphere of sun and sand at their wedding," continues Gavish. "In order to accomplish that, we're going to use a lot of sheer fabrics and place them so that they will blow in the wind. I'll bring in live trees and use warm, golden fabrics. We'll rent high-quality rattan furniture and use a small number of rare flowers like lobster claws, orchids and birds of paradise."
Gavish prefers to have fewer, more expensive flowers than an abundance of cheap arrangements. More is not always better, she says.
"I named my company 'Rega Ba'haim,' or a moment in life, because that is what I do," says Gavish. "I create memorable moments in life, and the wilder, more fantastic the dreams are, the further I can go towards making them come true."
For more information, contact Patty Gavish by e-mail at email@example.com.