Culture

Event planners in Singapore: Interview with Nick Oxborrow, director of boutique events agency, Fabulation

An eye for design. Fabulation never fails to provide a stunning final product for its customers. We sit down with Director Nick Oxborrow to find out just how he does it

Mar 11, 2017 | By Robbie Wilson

Venue styling takes a specific eye for detail and an abundance of creativity. As Singapore’s leading boutique events agency, Fabulation has provided event management, styling and bespoke floral arrangement services to clients that range from Chanel to Penfolds. We speak with its founder, Nicholas Oxborrow, to gain an insight into this fabulous world.

What was the inspiration behind Fabulation?

Fabulation means to tell a story with fantasy. I wanted to create a business that creates the fabulousness of a party in a magical way. I was working in the events industry in London and started to get involved with the styling aspect of it. I saw a gap in the market for an event specialist that focuses on the look and feel of an event. While there were a lot of service providers offering styling, it is usually delivered either by a specific business like a florist, or as part of an event organisation. The latter is a management company which offers that service first and styling second.

Describe your business philosophy

My business is rooted in my education from a hotel school in Switzerland. The customer is always right and service is a craft. Our job is to assist someone in delivering their fantasy, which is why our logo incorporates the line “fantasy complete”. We are happy when our customers are happy. Another key element and also component of the word Fabulation is “celebration”.

An event should be a party and it should be fun. We don’t say less is more at Fabulation, we say more is more. Of course there are always limitations but with events, the sky is the limit. Have fun!

Favourite event you styled a venue for?

I have found this to be a difficult question to answer as every time we do an event, I’m in love with it, but of course there are always some stands- outs. We once did a room design for Chanel and it had an extravagant floral centrepiece that ran the length of the long table, with hundreds of floating flowers suspended above it like a chandelier that also ran the entire length of the table. The entire space was purpose-built inside a marquee which was totally out of site. To give the room a sense of space, we created a fake wall with French arched windows and planted trees and shrubbery down the other side, to create the feeling of being inside a grand house in Europe.

Suspended Floral for Chanel

When approaching an empty room, what is the process of creating exactly what the client envisions?

Our job as professionals is to interpret what the client wants and mould that into reality. The key process is to figure out how to deliver the brand message of the event. When I stand in an empty room, I figure out how to blend the clients wishes with the room’s reality, whilst having my eye on what needs to be achieved. My rule is that you have to work with a venue and not against it.

What’s your favourite venue in Singapore?

My favourite venues are the really unusual or complicated venues to work in. I love the challenge of changing the dynamics of the space, so that when it’s dressed for an event, it looks and feels gorgeous. In particular, I love the old colonial locations like the Cricket Club and Clifford Pier at the Fullerton Bay Hotel. You can’t make new, “old buildings”.

What’s the most challenging aspect of styling a venue?

Working with the limitations of a venue. Unique venues in Singapore are very limited. Trying to get the perfect balance of good location, interesting architecture, generous space, good parking and suitable infrastructure such as bathrooms, power availability and storage is always a challenge.

Styling though is always fun because no matter what you have to work with, there is always a way to make it work. Generally, it’s more about a style choice. I always say that as long as a venue is big enough for the event required, we can do the rest and make it work.

What are some unique requests clients have asked you for?

To suspend an opera singer above the crowd at an event. We did a banking event, in what was Avalon in Marina Bay Sands, for Chinese New Year. We had to arrange Lo Hei for 500 guests, which meant creating tables for the dishes. By the time we laid out the room with all the tables, we didn’t have any more space for anything else, thus entertainment had to be suspended to make it work. We used a swing for her to sit on throughout the performance.

Name the single aspect you like most about your job. When do you get the most satisfaction?

I love the quiet moment of an event when everything is done and finished, just before the guests arrive. If you
plan things really well, instead of rushing around before the party starts, you can enjoy the beauty of the actual space itself. There is such satisfaction in taking the time to enjoy the fruits of your labour. I always say that we are sandcastle builders; we spend all day creating something exquisite and then the sea washes it all away by morning.

For more information, visit Fabulation.

This interview was first published in Palace 18.