David Merrell, COO and Creative Director of AOO Events, has been taking the event industry by storm since 1989. With a name synonymous with cutting-edge and innovative event design and production concepts, Merrell has transformed the market and captivated audiences worldwide.
He has been named “Designer of the Year” by Event Solutions Magazine, earned nine Gala Awards from Special Event Magazine, taken home seven ISES Esprit Awards, received a Best Design award from BizBash as well as the prestigious Crystal SITE Award from the Society of Incentive and Travel Executives. He has also served in numerous industry positions, including board member for the International Special Event Society (ISES) and as president of the Greater Los Angeles Chapter of ISES. He’s currently on the advisory boards of the industry publications Event Solutions and Bizbash, as well as serving on the board of the Wedding and Event Institute.
As a true visionary, he has led the industry into the age of social media by starting the award-winning blog and forum, www.designdawgs.net. As the lead “Dawg”, his posts regularly feature cutting-edge designs and trends, in addition to cameos from A-list guest bloggers.
Read on for his top picks and see what this industry insider has to say about the City of Angels...
L.A. has the most consistent and predictable weather in the U.S. so you can’t go wrong when choosing it as the destination for your event. Because weather is so predictable, the use of outdoor space and al-fresco dining is something that we can confidently offer most of the year. Not only that, it is the Entertainment Capital of the World, so some of the most unique and interesting spaces that are internationally known can be tapped into to throw events!
I have so many, it’s kind of unfair that I have to pick! L.A. LIVE and Microsoft Square, located in the heart of Downtown L.A., offer a world-class location that is like no other. The other venue that comes to mind is Paramount Studios. There is nothing more special than arriving through that famous Paramount arch entrance and attending an event on New York Street on the lot.
There are so many things that make Southern California’s vibe distinctive to anything else. SoCal events are typically out of the box, feature non-traditional décor and furniture and edgy entertainment, all with the Hollywood flair so the possibilities are truly endless. Incorporating indoor and outdoor elements to your events brings the best of what Southern California is known for.
I like the authentic experiences. There is a GREAT Mexican restaurant in West Hollywood called The Gardens of Taxco that offers one of the most charming culinary experiences in the city. The food is inspired by authentic plates from the heart of Mexico. To this day it is THE place I take friends and family to. . .and oh, by the way, go hungry because there is TONS of food. Make sure you tell them that you are a first timer when you go, they will give you the royal treatment when it comes to the “menu explanation”!
Comfortable shoes (you are going to do a lot of walking!), shorts, sunglasses, sun-block, and a sweater at night (it does get cool at night).
Organize a bike tour with the guys at Bikes and Hikes LA to give visitors a new perspective of the city. Pair it with a stop at the beach or even the Original Farmers Market where they can try the many local flavors in our cultural melting pot.
Runyon Canyon. This old expansive canyon property used to be owned by Errol Flynn and was willed back to city after his death. Today it is the epicenter to some of the best and most challenging hiking trails and sight-seeing in the city. It offers expansive views from the ocean, to the Hollywood sign, to Griffith Observatory to Downtown L.A.
Bel-Air and Beverly Hills. . . there is nothing like driving through the neighborhoods and checking out the homes in that part of the city. But if big homes don’t do it for you, get up to Mulholland Drive, for iconic views of the valley and the entire city of Los Angeles.
Mixed seating is “in” in a big way…square, round and rectangle tables with mixed chairs, benches and banquets for the chairs, family style service instead of sit-down dinners.
On the backlot of Paramount Studios, we re-created a series of stunt scenes that were actually filmed live with an actual director, camera crew and real stunt doubles. The scenario - which had everything from acrobatic fly-through sequences, stunt men jumping off of buildings on fire, to even a fight scene - incorporated five executives of the company into the scene and utilized the attendees as extras, coaching them how to react on camera. The captured video was utilized in the video clips during their general sessions the next day and in internal promotions for the company.
As true destination experts, L.A. Tourism offers award-winning experience, personalized service and seamless convenience. Want to learn more about Los Angeles or ready to plan your next event? Contact the L.A. Tourism Sales team to make your planning and decision-making easy, simple and stress-free. firstname.lastname@example.org