Event experts weigh in on the emerging trends of 2021

From catering and styling to tech, these are the biggest trends shaping the industry.

In our first print issue of 2021, we asked four event professionals to share their trend predictions for the year ahead.

From bold floral styling to health-conscious catering, these are the biggest trends to watch in the year ahead.


Emma Perry, director of styling at This Space, says stylists will be experimenting with playful, exuberant patterns in 2021.

“As an event stylist, it’s a pleasure to draw trends from different industries, such as interiors, wearable, travel and lifestyle. We explore these industries because we find they are what our clients are most immersed in, and after all, our clients are who we strive to delight and surprise.

The trend I look forward to exploring in 2021 is a play on pattern: florals, patchworks, checks and stripes. Patterns may be mixed or pattern on mass. It will be a fun look that combines curved and straight lines with lots of opportunity to play with colours (which are set to be delicious sorbet pastel tones!).

I look forward to printing an enlarged floral design for a stage backdrop and, equally, shrinking the print down to fit onto a vase, filled with fresh flowers – flowers on flowers! I can’t wait to bring together an entry feature of straight lines standing upright, flanking a plush, curved carpet, paired with centrepieces on patterned tablecloths.

Pattern brings a lot of joy and is so versatile. Most people associate pattern with a ‘busy’ feel but in fact, it can be used to create a sleek, contemporary look, which I am excited to see in 2021.


Here’s how events will look in 2021, according to AV1 managing director Keith Wootton.

Prediction #1

Virtual events will continue to be relevant throughout 2021 because of their global reach. Through the use of all virtual platforms, organisers have seen their reach expand beyond borders. A Sydney-based physical conference for 500 is now reaching a global audience of thousands as an online event. This will lead to live events in 2021 having a hybrid component in order to continue to reach further and also facilitate international presenters who can’t travel to Australia.

Prediction #2

Online event content will get shorter and sharper. Organisers have learned very quickly that you can’t replicate a full two-day event with hour-long keynotes and 45-minute sessions. Content will become shorter and punchier, replacing PowerPoint with lots of interactivity and live(ly) group discussion. Pre-records out; full live engagement in.

Prediction #3

After a year of Zooming from home, the novelty has worn off. Whilst having positive effects on the bottom line, workplace culture is suffering. Would-be teams and delegates are craving physical connection and human engagement. In 2021, masked events can provide the solution – given the safe and orderly  environment in which we as an industry operate.

AV1’s virtual and hybrid event studio


The three types of events every company needs to be running in 2021, according to Jodie McLean, director of JEM events.

We’re all glad to see the back of 2020, but the silver lining of the year from hell was the introduction of a
new type of event – hello HYBRID. A beautiful marriage of the personal connection and intimacy that comes from small, in-person events, with the future-focus and instant connection that technology brings.

For the risk averse and those keen to “get back out there”, you want to be sure that your time out of iso is well worth the gamble – enter, EXPERIENTIAL EVENTS. No longer are we going to risk our lives for just any ol’ event, so if you’re going to hold an event, you better make damn sure it is an experience to remember. Secret locations, blindfolds, surprise guests – providing a full experience will ensure guests keep coming back for more.

And you can kiss standard “strategy days” goodbye. Corporates are no longer bound by nine to five, in four office walls, rather opting for a work-from-home balance with regular overnight TEAM RETREATS in local Aussie destinations. Events are absolutely not dead, but they, like the rest of the world, have pivoted, and now demand a certain elevation and out-of-the-box thinking that our industry will be better for.

JEM Events


In 2021, catering will be healthier, more environmentally conscious and oh so Instagrammable, says Pomelo Catering owner Kaz Derbas.

Trend #1: Stand-out catering

Within the social event space, our customers are organising more intimate events with a slightly higher cost per head. With restrictions on dancing and entertainment now a factor, the food at events has become the showstopper. We’ve moved away from grazing tables for the moment and onto individually packaged
COVID-safe boxes still presented in an ‘Instagrammable’ fashion.

Trend #2: Healthy options

Within the corporate catering space we’ve noticed our customers are often seeking out healthier options; our bento lunch boxes, green power salads and rice paper rolls are becoming some of the most popular choices. In keeping with this theme, events are often styled with native plants and flowers to suit a healthy living aesthetic.

Trend #3: Eco-friendly

Many of our customers are asking for events to be styled in an eco-friendly fashion. This involves minimal wastage and packaging, as well as wooden cutlery and sugarcane plates becoming the norm at many  corporate catering events.

Read the full issue of Spice Magazine Autumn 2021 below:

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