Prince Albert was the driving force behind a great display of the Victorian belief in progress, the Great Exhibition of 1851. The idea of international exhibitions was then quite new, and Albert had to overcome quite a lot of opposition, some of it extremely silly. The exhibition building was an enormous glass hall – the Crystal Palace – in Hyde Park. Inside were machinery and manufacturers from Britain, the Empire and other countries.
Among all the useful and productive exhibits, there were some odd ones too – a garden seat made of coal, rhubarb ‘champagne’, and a stuffed frog holding an umbrella. The exhibition was a tremendous success, truly a ‘great conception’, as the queen said. The novelist Thackery called the genuinely revolutionary building ‘a blazing arch of lucid glass’. Not only was Crystal Palace the first glass building of its kind, it was also the first prefabricated building, made in pieces which were then put together on the site.
Selecting the right venue to house an event is fundamental. It creates a backdrop and an atmosphere which can enhance the delegate experience and amplify the story being told. As an architecturally adventurous building, Crystal Palace was perfectly themed for the celebration of modern industrial technology and design displayed inside.
When it comes to London venues, the Broadsword Team are a bit like experienced black cab drivers. We know where they are, how to get to them, around the inside of them and where to park the van outside them (even the desert island type ones on roundabouts).
But we also like to think that we know how to enhance them, without overpowering them. We treat our work, and the spaces that we work in, with high levels of care and respect and also understand the trust that is invested in us as we unpack and set up our “useful and productive exhibits.” As part of the storytelling process, we thrive when tasked to bring a building to life and marry it to the project’s theme and purpose. Creative event production that celebrates the architectural features of a historic venue, is a key part of our contribution. We like solutions that look like they should be there.
The best ideas for events don't always come from previous events. Neither do they magically appear by scrolling through dozens of photographs. There is a world out there and so many interesting spaces - colourful, vivid backdrops bursting with inspiration and energy - that can inspire and be made a part of the delegate experience.
Modern Londoners owe some of the best the city has to offer to the Victorian age, from world-class museums to iconic landmarks. How fantastic that "great" events and exhibitions are still taking place within these historic walls and we get to play a part.