In October, we were thrilled to have the opportunity to print materials for The Knot‘s annual Gala for wedding industry professionals at the end of New York Bridal Fashion Week. Xochitl Gonzalez and her amazing event design company AaB Creates created the concept that transformed the New York Public Library into a bohemian dream. Calling in the best in the biz to make her dream a reality, Xochitl worked with artist and invitation designer Ceci Johnson of Ceci New York to develop prints to incorporate into curtains, cushions, cakes, and more. We were so excited to catch up with Ceci to learn more about her design process and how she worked with AaB Creates to turn their vision into the sophisticated and flawless decor designs on display at The Knot Gala.

Bohemian Backdrop at The Knot GalaPhoto Panels printed on Spoonflower’s Eco Canvas served as the stage backdrop. Photo Credit: Dave Robbins Photography

We were thrilled when Xochitl Gonzalez, event designer and co-founder of Aab Creates, contacted us about printing fabric and wallpaper to help transform the New York Public Library into a high-tech bohemian dream. It’s not everyday we get to print 8-yard kaleidoscope floral panel curtains, after all! When we attended The Knot Gala and got to see the curtains in person, the overall effect of the space wowed us even more! In true design-geek fashion, we had to reach out to Ceci Johnson, the Founder + Creative Director of Ceci New York, the designer behind the incredible watercolor prints, to learn more about her process. In between meeting with clients, preparing content for her online magazine Ceci Style, and preparing for a new baby(!!), Ceci was kind enough to jump on a call and tell us how she makes the magic happen.

A lounge featuring custom panels and pillows with Ceci's design

Floral pillows for this plush lounge area printed on Spoonflower’s Silky Faille. Photo Credit: Dave Robbins Photography

This collaboration was born when Xochitl passed along her boho-vibed inspiration board to Ceci with a singular request, to incorporate Ceci’s signature watercolor paintings. With Xochitl’s overall vision captured in the mood board and her desire for Ceci to “do what you do best,” the rest of the creative process was open for Ceci’s artistic interpretation, and ultimately her expertise. “It’s important to have an event designer who appreciates artistry,” says Ceci.

Ceci creating design elements for the Gala

With the “wow factor” set as the target, Ceci began creating the elements that would come together and bring to life the ultimate boho-chic experience. Working from her original watercolor floral illustrations, Ceci welcomed the challenge of carrying her artwork through to the event, applying the designs to a variety of canvases, from the envelope liner of her incredible laser-cut invitations to the 8 yard panels that would back the stage. This part of the process requires intense organization and visual styling as Ceci works to create elements that will enhance the Gala’s design direction with a cohesive feel without repeating everything over and over.

Spoonflower-printed fabrics featuring Ceci's designs
For this project, the Save the Date card was designed first with a simple background of blue and purple watercolor flowers. Then came the invitation with which Ceci hand painted a new, custom watercolor for the envelope liner, featuring gold foil stamped elements atop of it, and then revealed a beautifully intricate laser-cut invitation. When you’re inviting the top professionals in the wedding and event industry, you must make a bold statement from that very first impression!

  Ceci's intricate invitations for The Knot Gala

To adapt the original illustrations to these different canvases, Ceci stresses the importance of organizing the elements specifically for each piece. “It’s a challenge because patterns can be too busy or too small… flowers might seem too fluffy or intense when repeated, so you really have to reimagine how the design will translate to a larger scale,” Ceci explains. “Thinking on a 3D level is a mind game.”

Xochitl and Ceci celebrate their vision coming to life!

From the invitations, it was onto executing for the big night with panels, bar fronts, pillows and more that would create the atmosphere of the event itself, transforming the marble and grand scale of the New York Public Library into the plush bohemian dreamscape. To keep the look cohesive and ensure each piece supports the vision as a whole, Ceci cross references each piece in her studio: “it helps me make better decisions, keeping it all together to cross reference… I’m always mindful of the whole experience.”

Ceci's design process centers around collaboration

And it’s the whole experience that reflects Ceci’s belief in what she calls “the Art of the Possible”–she and her creative team explore all of the possibilities as they design together to create a one-of-a-kind ‘wow’ moment.  It’s the collaborative aspect of this work that Ceci loves, “designing in the dark would just be boring! I’m always using my clients to draw ideas, and we’ll present at least 3-4 different rounds and proofs of concept when we’re working on a project. It’s a very collaborative process.”

Ceci and Xochitl soak in the festivities at The Knot Gala

For The Knot Gala, Xochitl and Ceci’s collaboration certainly paid off. The results, as you can see, were magical! We can’t wait to see what is in store next!

Craving more of Ceci’s creative work and want to get a peek at her design life? Keep up with Ceci and #TeamCeci by following @CeciNewYork on Instagram, or subscribe to her online lifestyle magazine Ceci Style.