We love it when our clients and their customers love our designs, but we also love it when our work is recognized by our peers! Jean B (General Manager) and Aaron G (Operations Manager) accepted the Platinum Award for the Special Event & Holiday category on behalf of Designer Sue Z and rest of the Phillip’s Interior Plants team at the AmericanHort International Plantscape Awards in Columbus, Ohio July 2019. Holiday entries are judged on a criteria that includes enhancing the space, executing the client’s vision, degree of difficulty, quality of materials, timing and time restrictions (a relevant criterion considering this massive and labor-intensive installation takes place in downtown Chicago, overnight, and is completed in just 14 hours!). You can learn all about this award-winning Chicago commercial holiday decorating project and see more photos in our awards submission below.


International Plantscape Awards Submission

Category:  Special Event and Holiday

Entrant:  Phillip’s Interior Plants & Displays – Oak Brook, Illinois                         

Key Team Members: Sue Z (Designer, Lead Decorator, Installation Manager); Ron R (Lead Installer); Krystn S (Crew Leader)

Client: Palmer House – Chicago, Illinois

Project Name:  Bertha Palmer’s Story

Installation Date: November 12, 2018

Project Description:

The Palmer House, is the oldest hotel in Chicago, and is considered the oldest continuously running hotel in the USA. The hotel was built by Potter Palmer as a wedding present for his young bride, Bertha. It was originally opened on September 26, 1871. Shockingly, The Palmer House burned a couple of weeks later in the Great Chicago Fire. The hotel was rebuilt and reopened in 1873. The guideline we were given for the new design of their holiday decor was:  Tell the story of Bertha Palmer.  After a few weeks of research, my story of Bertha was born. According to my research, Bertha was the queen of Chicago’s high society. She loved opulence. Reportedly, she would tell women that they need to take off accessories, as she added three more to herself. In addition to her love of opulence she enjoyed a love of art; Bertha was the curator of The Hall of Women’s Art for the World’s Fair, and her favorite animal was the white peacock. As a philanthropist she worked with Jane Addams at the Hull House and fought for better working conditions for women. The color scheme chosen for The Palmer House’s holiday decor was: The entrances were red and gold. The pedways, elevator lobbies, restaurant, bar, offices, hospitality suite, and one of the ballrooms were red, gold, and lime green. The penthouse was aqua and brown to match the existing decor. Two of the ballrooms had burgundy, gold and lime green. Another ballroom was gold, white, and black. The final ballroom was gold, black, and burgundy.  The grand lobby and surrounding areas were gold, white, baby blue, burgundy, champagne, and rose gold. The color scheme was inspired by the ornately decorated ceiling of the grand lobby. The installation included decor for five ballrooms, four pedways, two entrances, the grand lobby, reservation area, a bar, a restaurant, five offices, the penthouse, the hospitality suites, and five elevator lobbies. The various spaces required 711′ of decorated garland, one sleigh scene, 23 trees, two 14′ frame trees, one 18′ frame tree on a 3′ high round riser (upholstered in gold damask to look like a hat box), nine drums in various sizes (upholstered in luxurious fabric to look like hat boxes), vintage artifacts (Porcelain doll, rocking horse, large Minkie Bear, tin ride-on train, six nutcrackers, set of antique child skis and a vintage mink stole), one 6′ white peacock, and six 3′ white peacocks. In addition, we installed toppers for four Tiffany torchieres, 12 cone trees, 19 wreaths. In total, 600 ostrich plumes, 250 electric candles, 3000′ of strung pearls and crystals, 10,000 ornaments, and over a mile of ribbon were used in this project.  We spent 52 labor hours decorating the items at our facility, but it was installed (overnight) by a crew of 12 people in just 14 hours. Our staff is amazing!

Welcome to The Palmer House! The Tale of Bertha Palmer Begins The main entrance features the famous beautiful Brass Peacock Doors flanked by two 7.5 foot full, LED trees decorated in red and gold.

Inside the main entrance there is a seating area which features a 12 foot gingerbread fireplace baked by The Palmer House’s pastry chef. The decorations we added are two 36 inch LED lit wreaths. 36 feet of LED lit garland, and six 24 inch swags arranged on the mantle. The color scheme matches that of the main entrance: red and gold. We also installed an electric fireplace insert.

Walking through this building transports you in time. The architectural details in the elevator lobby are of the gilded age. The street level elevator lobby features a sleigh scene on a 4 foot by 8 foot raised platform with locking wheels. The scene includes: a wood sleigh decorated in red, gold, and lime green and features a red velvet bag overflowing with toys. Behind the sleigh is a grouping of three woodland trees with red cardinals (the state bird of Illinois) for a pop of color.  

The Grand Ballroom features a balcony that spans the entire room.  270 feet of decorated LED garland was installed on the balcony railing.  The decor included 1080 ornaments, gold sprays and 32 red and gold foam filled bows. On each end of the balcony stood a 14 foot LED frame tree flanked by 48 inch LED wreaths hung on mirrors. The color scheme of the decor is red, gold, and lime green.

The reservation area was flanked by two 9.5 foot LED cone trees. The cone trees are decorated with over 100 ornaments, floral and lace nosegays, and crystal and pearl beaded swags.The tree tops each feature a white 3 foot peacock nesting on white glitter manzanita branches, gold feather sprays, white ostrich plumes, crystal drops, pearl berries, and a rose gold embroidered foam filled bow. The trees stand opposite the 18 foot tree in the Main Lobby. The color scheme matches the grand lobby: gold, burgundy, white, baby blue, champagne, and rose gold.

The grand lobby is, indeed, quite grand. The color scheme was chosen to compliment the beautiful, ornate painted ceiling. The lobby features four Tiffany Torchieres (each topped with an arrangement), a 9.5 foot LED cone tree (which matches the two in front of the reservation area) that overlooks the grand lobby from the balcony, and an 18 foot LED frame tree on a 3 foot riser.

Close up of the grand lobby tree decor. The color scheme for the tree is gold, burgundy, white, baby blue, champagne, and rose gold. The colors were chosen to compliment the ceiling of the grand lobby. The decor consists of ornaments, floral and lace nosegays, small decorative hat boxes, swags of crystal and pearl bead, rose gold ribbon, crystal drops, pearl tassels, and LED taper candles. I believe Bertha would be proud.

At the base of the Main Tree (pictured top left) you would find a riser and nine drums of various sizes upholstered in luxurious fabrics and ribbon to look like hat boxes, six nutcrackers, a porcelain doll, tin truck, a tin ride on train, a large Minkie Bear, antique child skis, and a golden rocking horse. The tree toppers for the cone trees and main tree (pictured bottom left) each consisted of a white peacock (3 foot peacock on cone trees and a 6 foot peacock on the main tree) nesting on white glittered manzanita branches, gold glitter branches, crystal dangles, gold feather sprays, pearl berries, pearl and crystal swags, ostrich plumes and rose gold ribbon. The arrangements that top the 4 Tiffany Torchieres (pictured right) consisted of LED greens, gold glitter branches, ostrich plumes, crystal dangles, pearl and crystal bead swags, LED taper candles and rose gold ribbon.

This is the view of the Main Tree during the day.  During the day, the lighting in the grand lobby is conducive for people to conduct business at the tables. The Main Tree is an 18 foot frame tree on a 3 foot riser surrounded vintage artifacts.  Colors:  gold, burgundy, baby blue, white, champagne, and rose gold. The topper features a 6 foot white peacock.



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