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Smells Like Team Spirit

“A woman who doesn’t wear perfume has no future.” At least that’s what Coco Chanel, arbiter of all things chic, says. The bustling perfume industry would agree—it’s always formulating fresh, new scents in pursuit of a more fragrant future for women and men alike. The hard work has its rewards—and awards. The Fragrance Foun­dation of Germany, an association of manufacturers, suppliers, ­retailers and media, has been honoring exceptional olfactory achievements since 1993 with the coveted DUFTSTARS awards. Every year a jury and 250 experts select the winners; the audience also gets to pick its favorite. The DUFTSTARS are a big deal in the booming beauty and lifestyle business: In his opening speech, Federal Minister of Economic Affairs Sigmar Gabriel hailed perfume as a precious ­cultural asset and a significant economic factor. 

This year’s awards ceremony took place at the same location as last year, Berlin’s Kraftwerk. This defunct 7,000+ m2 power plant in the heart of the capital was an inspired choice of venue, its coarse ­industrial charms providing a piquantly beastly counterpoint to the bottled fragrances’ delicate beauty. Erected around the same time as the Berlin Wall, the Kraftwerk furnished heat to the city until 1997. These days it’s hotter than ever. Refurbished in 2010, it’s become an iconic events venue. The extraordinary location set the tone for a memorable evening hosted by German TV presenter Barbara Schoneberg and masterminded by Vaterblut. This agency knew exactly who to turn to put their ideas into action, and we were delighted to be on board for the second time to provide lighting, rigging, audio and stage support.

Big awards extravaganzas generally involve a ceremony, dinner and after-show party, which in this case all took place on different levels of the same building. The shared location was a logistical advantage, but the crew had to set up all three simultaneously. Gearing up for one while another was underway was a no-go as the noise in this huge open space would have been prohibitive. The fleet-footed crew unloaded nine trailers worth of gear, hauled it into the ­Kraftwerk, which had been renamed Duftwerk [Scent Works] for the evening, and set it all up with remarkable celerity. They hoisted sixty metric tons of steel to the top floor to build the centerpiece, a temporary stage made of layered components, and rolled out 1,000 m2 of purple carpet, the lavender look being a better match for the CI than the usual red. The team also put up the obligatory press wall, a 120 m2 backdrop for all those popping flashbulbs, and installed a sea of 74 floodlights for the catwalk and stage alone, including recently acquired Platinum FLX energy-efficient footlights. Zoom Profilers conjured a dinner ambience as sparkling as the bubbly in the clinking glasses. The right lighting can lend the scarred features of dilapidated industrial facilities an eerie beauty, and the challenge of capturing that haunting quality is what makes gigs like this so much fun for lighting techs. The sound reinforcement was no less impressive with cult band Culcha Candela playing over a rig that rocked the house and sent the 800 invited guests to the dance floor to shake something other than the award-winning flagons.

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