The Cacique Touch | The 7 Secrets of Event Design


In martial arts, they say it takes a lifetime to become a master - to transcend the art form. It comes from years and years of repetition - practising the same moves again and again until it becomes clockwork. Smooth. Precise. Seemingly effortless. Only then can you take a step back and reflect on the art itself... 

Wax on. Wax off. Am I saying that I am the Mister Miyagi of event-design? Not quite. But there is a connection.  In over twenty years in the industry, I often get asked “what is your secret?” or “how did you pull it off?” Until recently, my answer was always that there was no secret - the “Cacique Touch” was the result of design-flair, passion and a hefty dose of elbow-grease. But as I pause, take a breath and look back at two decades of practise, I am beginning to appreciate the methodology, the subtle moves that make up the dance. 

 The author, Shawn S. Sawyer Creative Director & Partner of Cacique International channeling his Design Chi.

The author, Shawn S. Sawyer Creative Director & Partner of Cacique International channeling his Design Chi.


Design Secret #1 JUST IMAGINE

At Cacique, our favourite response when asked about the what, where and how of a planning an event is to first “Just Imagine” the possibilities.

Listening is a timeless skill, often neglected in favour of prescribing "best-fit" options. As a company that prides itself on being bespoke, we do a lot of listening. We listen to the client’s dreams, encourage them to “Just Imagine” the possibilities and not to concern themselves with logistical limitations. We then use our twenty years experience as The Bahamas’ premier DMC to bring this vision to life and create an experience that would go beyond what the client could ever imagine.

Design Secret #2 SCULPT THE DREAM 

Nobody likes to have their dream chopped down or moulded into a one-size-fits-all solution. 

There is a subtle art to "dream sculpting" - whittling a client's dream into shape - tailoring it towards what can be achieved within timeline and within budget. The key is to always leave room for the magic; the magic touch that will take the event beyond what is expected and into the extraordinary - an event that will live forever in the storybook of the client's memory. 


At Cacique, we believe in magic. The magic that in theatre is called a “happening” - a spontaneous moment in which actors transcend their role, making the audience feel like they have experienced the exceptional.

For us in Event Design, this magic is composed of a myriad extra touches that take the event beyond what was expected and into the realm of the extraordinary. Extraordinary for the client and guests, not only in venue, design, décor and entertainment, food and beverage - but equally-importantly in the ease of flow of the narrative, the invisible strings making magic happen all around them.


Rain happens. Cakes get squashed. Planes, trains, boats and automobiles can all break down. And of course, we humans are subject to what is known as human error. 

As The Bahamas premier Destination Management Company, the sort of logistical challenges that come with putting together world-class events in a young country, are anticipated and dealt with as par of the course. The same might be said for the tropical climate, in particular the deluges that may threaten an outdoor set-up at a moment’s notice. The solution for all such challenges is to expect the unexpected - always have a contingency plan and to be able to put this into effect rapidly without interrupting the flow of the experience.  


There is a danger in event design, as in life itself, of getting caught up in the details and failing to see the wider picture. 

That is why the role of the Creative Director is so important. A great Creative Director has the ability to zoom in and zoom out at a moments notice - zoom in on the subtle details that are so significant and then zoom out to check how they are fitting into the whole picture, the theatre of the event, the invisible yet essential threads that pull the whole act together. 

Watch | The Cacique Touch 

Design Secret #6 IT'S ALL IN THE DETAILS...ISH 

Yes,details do matter. But details don't exist in a vacuum. In the same way that a black tie may demand a crisp white shirt, certain elements are made to go together. 

If an event is to be seen as a play, then the details are the elements which make up a scene - the sweet smell of hydrangeas cascading across pristinely-set banquet tables, the twinkle of wine glasses being filled by starch-white sommeliers, the hypnotic glimmer of a thousand glass candleholders artfully scattered across tablecloths, an empty stage bathed in purple light - elements which come together to create an extraordinary sensory experience. 

Design Secret #7 STUDY THYSELF  

Debriefing after an event is critical. Often, we tend to focus on what was a challenge and what could be done better next time, but be sure not to neglect what went exceptionally well and should be done again.

Let us end on the metaphor of the theatrical production. A great play takes a great team. There are the actors that you see on stage and a whole cast of professionals behind the scenes - from writers to set designers to make-up artists to light technicians to prompters whispering forgotten lines - who come together to make the magic happen and allow us, the audience to suspend our disbelief and enjoy the show. Each role is invaluable to the whole. Each role should be celebrated and nurtured.