Headed by New York-born Diana Sorensen, Sugokuii Luxury Events specializes in destination weddings in Capri & the Amalfi Coast including exclusive private parties, luxury product launches, intimate fashion shows, boutique openings and yacht services, with entrance to normally unavailable homes, luxury hotels, off the path restaurants and the most beautiful & unique places Capri and the Amalfi Coast have to offer for the most discerning brides & clients.
Sugokuii Luxury Events has planned celebrations for some of the most well-known characters in cinema, music, art & business and is known as one of the Caribbean’s & Italy’s leading event and wedding planners, producing extremely personalized luxury events and results based on each clients’ perception & expectations.
South of Italy, an Island in the sun, a wedding ceremony and Sugokuii Events … How did this all start? How did you come up with this beautiful super romantic idea?
Diana, our Creative Director, has spent all her summers as a child in Capri. One evening as a teenager, she was walking through the Piazzetta with her parents and the electricity went on the entire island. All restaurants and cafes brought out candles and the atmosphere, energy, and lighting remained a strong memory for her and solidified the sensation that Capri would always have a special meaning to her, not knowing then how true that would be. When we (Diana and I) in 2007 had a chance to do something new, we decided to move to Capri from London, not knowing exactly why or what to make of it but to see where it would take us. Diana had before that worked as event manager for some of the most well-known luxury brands in the world for 15 years at that point, in New York, Los Angeles, London, and Copenhagen, and was very familiar with luxury event production. Living in Capri, by coincidence, we received a request in 2008 to do a wedding for an American couple, which we accepted, more as a fun challenge than anything else. After that, we started receiving numerous requests, and have since then been kept busy with this amazing opportunity.
Your decorations and design events remind of Neverland and Fairytales, where do you get the inspiration from?
Our inspiration comes from a vast palette of sources; Visiting hotels, restaurants, always traveling, magazines, books, designers, architects, our own back grounds (Diana having a lifelong background in the restaurant and hotels business, fashion, arts and my back ground as an engineer and entrepreneur. The constant curiosity, eye for details, being perfectionists but also understanding the operational aspect of an event and a business are all elements that come into play. Designing a luxury event with all the hundreds of details that go into creating something homogenous and balanced, yet surprising and unseen requires a strong design aesthetic and discipline, or you lose the cohesiveness. For us it is paramount to always stay true to a venue – we don’t like to construct venues, but want to enhance and dramatize the natural beauty of a given venue, keeping a delicate balance between the dramatic and the real.
Do you think that wedding ceremony has changed a lot over the years? How?
Not really – I think 99% of all ceremonies stay very true to traditions in all cultures – which they should – the ceremony is a ritual; for some a religious, for others a spiritual, and for others a cultural formalization of the unity between couples – We, as event designers, must stay true to this principle and only add layers to that (design, floral, music, timing of day, choice of celebrant, etc.).
How do you mix materials, patterns, textures, colors, client expectations and desires…and the final result is a well-design and balanced project?
It starts with the client. Always. Understanding them, their vision, their likings, their dislikings, temperament, humor, family dynamics, energy, language, back ground, and then from there, it is about the venue. A venue has to reflect as much as possible, all that fits into what represents the client.
Once the venue is determined, the hard work starts. We work in all of Italy, but our heart lies in Southern Italy. But even within that region, there are great differences when it comes to food, culture, wine, customs, architecture, nature, colors, traditions, materials they use or might even be famous for, designs, patterns, etc. So we start from scratch each time, sourcing ideas that match region, the venue a couple’s preferences.
This phase is a very time-consuming research phase which builds on our own past, knowledge, experience, aesthetics, trips we make, hotels and restaurants we visit, artisans until we have a good feeling of how to design wise execute a luxury event at a given place. At this stage we will prepare mood boards which we then work on until we are happy with them and at some stage prepared to present to client – then based on clients feed back, we make final adjustments and then starts the phase where we source the artisans for each element. And slowly, slowly, an event is born, taking on its own life, until it almost takes control of us and guides us and our team forward.
If you weren’t an event planner you would be …
We would surely both be entrepreneurs in some capacity – we both have too strong personalities to conform to any occupation where we would not be heading the creating of something. Our entire professional life before events were characterized by doing what had not been done before – always going out on a limb and force life into ideas.
One moment, one person or project that marked your career?
For this carrier it was moving to Capri – we had no idea what it would lead to, how we would spend the next phase of our lives, but just made the move and worked with what life gave us. Had we not moved to Capri, Sugokuii Events would not have been.
What advice would you give to young event planners that are starting their career?
When you produce events, you are taking responsibility for a project, with client’s money, which has a very well-defined end date and time – you cannot tell the client that you are delayed and that we need to move an event to next week. There are so many moving parts to create an event, so one of the most important recommendations to aspiring event planners would be to; take notes of everything during meetings (the devil is in the detail, and you don’t want to tell your boss or your client that you forgot important details – and you will not be able to remember it all if you don’t take notes), don’t procrastinate anything (you feel you are busy now, just wait, new levels of busy will open up closer to the event, which you want to have time to manage), up to and during events, managing perfection requires laser focus and when your boss tells you to do something, you do it, regardless. No time to discuss fairness or alternatives – trust your boss knows best – after the event, you can evaluate. Finally, you need to have a natural interest in what goes into producing an event, so you are able to advise your clients – these interests include areas such as food, wine, travel, hotels, restaurants, art, architecture, interior design, culture, language, following trends.
What are some of the most unique, exciting, or even strange requests that a client has asked you to incorporate in the decor of an event?
A client asked us to serve champagne to all women, and to put a big diamond in one of the glasses, to encourage the women to drink – we kindly refused to do this. A client asked us to transform a mountain top into a party venue. The only way to get to the mountain top is by chairlift. We had to build a floor on the top of the mountain, bring up an entire kitchen, fly in chefs from India, and transport all items to the mountain top to setup by helicopters – it took 147 helicopter trips up and down, to load all, and to do this, we needed to first build a helicopter refueling station on mountain top, so helicopters could get fuel to fly up and down – we had 8 weeks to produce this – we usually have 8 months.
Complete the phrase:
I can’t work without my …Color printer, Mac computer, digital measuring stick and HP 42S pocket calculator (I found the last two available online 10 years ago and I have one in my safe and one I use – it is the best pocket calculator in the world and always work)
I’m currently obsessing over… the colors pink, green, materials brass, and copper, antique tiles, finding the best BBQ in the world for our terrace and the 400kg sub zero fridge we had delivered by the crane 1 months ago
My favorite designer is … That would probably be Lorenzo Mongiardino