Date: 7 October 2018
Location: Villa Aldobrandini, Frascati – Rome (Italy)
Organizer: AIM Group International
Client: International Bar Association
Event type: Welcome Dinner and Party
Basic Event Information
EVENT CATEGORY: CATEGORY B2B – Best ceremony
Event description and key objectives
The International Bar Association is the world’s leading international organisation of legal practitioners and law societies. For IBA AIM Group designed an incredible experience in the Eternal City for the Annual Conference Welcome Dinner. This event is the first moment of several days of intense work where international colleagues meet and establish a climate of collaboration. This event should surprise participants and be memorable, not an easy task as IBA is used to prestigious events and is not easily impressed. Moreover, +4.000 people were expected, which limits the location choice.
We chose the historical Villa Aldobrandini in Frascati, well-known as a belvedere in the hills overlooking Rome. It is an architectural and artistic masterpiece, rarely opened to events. The wow factor was guaranteed by a creative project developed by AIM Group that made it unique. Taking inspiration from the sumptuous baroque feasts held at ancient Italian courts, the party recreated a sumptuous world full of surprises. Guests were free to walk around the villa, from the terrace to the gardens and the solemn nymphaeum, and everywhere they went, they came across scenes and performances nestled in the environment.
To make this execution as smooth as possible, the event space was enlarged, in addition to the luxurious interior rooms of the Villa we equipped the terrace and the beautiful garden, transforming the areas into a stage for live performances and a large pavilion of 2,500sqm.
“IBA is an Association that brings together members from all over the globe. Some of them become friends over the years: what they look forward to each year is to meet together in a new city for a new experience. This usually means beginning the Conference with a special party”, explains the client. The dinner is seen as a special event to mark the beginning of several days of intense work and to create the special atmosphere of ì collaboration. As a networking event it has to surprise participants and be memorable, not an easy task as attendees are used to prestigious IBA events. Furthermore, with more than 4.000 expected attendees, the options available for venues is somewhat limited and brings its own special logistic challenges. Moreover, it should not be just a large location, but a very special one that would allow to display a unique experience. Finally, Villa Aldobrandini was chosen as the perfect location, but since it is located on a hill bringing all guests up to the Villa and passing through steep narrow cobblestone paths, was not an easy task. We overcame the logistic limit by using bigger coaches to bring guests from Rome downtown to Frascati. Here they would be accompanied by smaller vans up on the hill, with a total of +130 shuttle buses. In the meantime, Frascati’s Mayor welcomed the guests with a typical Italian aperitivo with pizza and wine, which is one of the best wines in the Region with a registered designation of origin.
As the dinner’s leitmotif, we interpreted the client’s request to offer the extraordinary atmosphere of Italy and its iconic culture, art, food, history, music. In fact, Villa Aldobrandini is one of the best examples of early Baroque. Built in the 16th century, it is sumptuously decorated and hosts a valuable collection of artworks including works by Leonardo da Vinci and sculptor Gianlorenzo Bernini, from which we took inspiration to interpret the sumptuous baroque feasts held at ancient Italian courts and recreated a world full of real surprises. Guests were free to walk around the villa, from the terrace to the Villa’s rooms, to the gardens and the famous, notable nymphaeum, with niches, fountains and statues. Everywhere they went, guests would came across scenes and artistic performances inspired by baroque grandeur. The outstanding feature of IBA Party it is the high level of personalisation of the artistic project. In fact, we built coherent storytelling strongly linked both to the Italian culture, and Rome in particular, and to the location. The art collection of the Villa gave the inspiration to realise an astonishing baroque feast, while the Nymphaeum was used as the natural backdrop for the main stage where display an ancient show and the Italian-style garden was chosen as the ideal place to host the living Signs of the Zodiac garden. Finally, every detail of the feast was conceived to design a unique experience, with a truly local taste, inimitable and memorable.
One of the actual trends in event organisation is the participants’ expectation to be directly involved and emotionally engaged with all the five senses. At IBA Party there were multiple areas where different performances and shows were simultaneously offered to the guests and repeated several times, as to allow all the 4,000 participants to have the chance to enjoy them. And apart from the show at main stage, most of them were really plunged among guests, with dancers and performers staying along the path and near to the public. Being free to walk within the different areas of the location (the terrace, the garden, the nymphaeum theatre, the interior of the Villa, the Pavilions) the Guests were able to have each a different experience depending on the way they chose and time that they decided to spend. Personalised experiences are the key!
As we wrote at the beginning of this piece, in order to offer a true personalized experience, it is crucial to address the event to all five senses. In fact, the IBA Welcome Party was a triumph of bright colours, majestic music, fancy textiles and gourmet tastes. This enabled guests to really feel as a part of the show, to enjoy their time and consider their experience as new, innovative and unforgettable!
Guests were welcomed at the front terrace by dancers in sparkling crinolines three-metres-tall, accompanied by a jazz band. Living installations dedicated to the Four Seasons were performed as a tribute to sculptor G. Bernini, as his masterpieces just representing the Four Seasons are housed in the Villa. Spring Awakening and Summer Tarantella were performed by dancers with flowering costumes under a suspended ceiling with 15,000 fresh spikes and flowers. Autumn Leaves and Winter Reflections were showcased in a column of fluttering leaves and sparkling snowflakes with dancing figures. The fairy Signs of the Zodiac Garden were stage to accompany guests along a path with discoveries of fascinating elements at every step. Each Zodiac Sign was represented by a flower, anthropomorphized by ladies with decorated garments who resembled Botticelli’s Venus. A dedicated show called “Il Fin, la Meraviglia”, was performed at the nymphaeum and provided an exclusive opportunity to enjoy a breathtaking masterpiece based on the piece staged in 1589 for the wedding of Ferdinando de’ Medici. The performance featured aerial acrobats, pyrotechnics and an ever-changing scenography that unified video projections with mythological figures. The night was crowned by spectacular firework displays with giant balloons and flying acrobats, Guests watched from the privileged location of the terrace overlooking the valley: the icing on the cake to this event with an outstanding WOW factor!
The dinner was carried out at a well-engineered pace and was a perfect mix of remarkable moments containing the opportunity to move freely through different areas, enjoy the shows, chat and eat. Surprise and delight were shared
emotions throughout the invitees. “To have the setting of Frascati, this enchanting Villa and these fantastic performances insured a warm and welcoming experience for all of us,” commented the client. “You can judge the wow effect by the number of people holding up their smartphones and filming what they were watching and recording the music!” These comments from the client confirm that we were able to offer that atmosphere of grandeur, surprise and a sense of awe. We provided an opportunity to experience Rome and Italian culture in an astonishing, original way, usually inaccessible and unique even for those who have already been to the city several times. Spirits were high during the evening and most of them not only filmed what they were watching but also spontaneously shared it on social media and posted their impressions all through the night: Twitter was the most used social platform by the attendees in real time and the hashtag #IBARome exploded with hundreds of engagements.
The gala dinner in numbers:
- 4,000 guests
- 2,500 square metres of pavilion
- 15,000 fresh flowers and spikes
- 130 buses + 45 minivan
- 75 dancers and artists involved overall
- 3 fireworks displays
- 234 tweets & retweets within few hours
As the Welcome Party should become a unique night for the guests, communication followed an ascending climax of curiosity. At first, a simple presentation of the event was provided on the event website. This page showed some practical info related to date and place and a description regarding the history of the location on a white background with no particular hint to the grandeur of performances. A second step was handing out some small leaflets during the congress registration. This leaflet contained a more detailed description of the location and its history, the reproduction of the villa in an ancient painting, the buffet menu, but also a rendering of the Villa and its areas where guests could walk through. Moreover, this map displayed the tag with the name of the performance that was going to be executed in that particular area. A further step into the night, but still not many details about how sumptuous it all would be! The night before, both the IBA social media accounts and ours at AIM Group International, started to post some sneak peaks of what was going to happen. In fact, artists and performers were doing rehearsals and part of the scenography was still being set up. The morning of the day a 20-seconds video was posted on social media to anticipate the mood of the night. As hours went by, more and more details were published online, but making sure guests were left open-mouthed as soon as they saw the first performance in action!
The use of sustainable practices
For the IBA Welcome Party no badges were printed especially for the night, as the guests were coming directly from the Congress Centre were they collected their conference materials. For what regards the catering service, biodegradable paper dishes, cups and recyclable cutlery were used for the typical Italian Aperitivo that was being served on Frascati’s square. Moreover, the food and wine that was served during the cocktail was locally sourced to actively involve the local enogastronomic community. Especially the wine came from canteens located among the vineyards of Castelli Romani (Roman Castles) and the province Lazio, where some of the best Italian wines are being produced. All of these wines have a registered designation of origin, so they are somehow protected from imitations.