Life of the Party

Elle Cashin | November 26, 2018 | Feature Features National

Tom Kehoe has been designing spectacular events for more than two decades, and every year they get grander. This holiday season, he's rolling out a tech division of his event production company, Kehoe Designs, solidifying his status as the go-to for all things over-the-top.

The age Tom Kehoe started delivering flowers for an Arlington Heights floral shop. After college, he bought the shop, which he ran for seven years before launching Kehoe Designs in 1996. Now a behemoth when it comes to Chicago bashes, Kehoe produces more than 500 events each year.

Percentage of Kehoe’s business made up of charity events—think Gateway Green’s always over-the-top Green Tie Ball or the AIDS Foundation’s World of Chocolate event. This month, you can also see his work on display at the 900 North Michigan Shops, which Kehoe has decked out with whimsical decor for the holidays.

Number of exclusive collections Kehoe has created for luxury-linens vendor BBJ Linen. Also in the designer’s portfolio: a 25,000-square-foot West Side event space dubbed The Geraghty and a plant division, Floral Exhibits. Next year, he’ll open a second venue space on the North Shore.

Number of full-time employees on staff at Kehoe Designs—including those from the newly launched BlackOak Technical Productions, which will encompass lighting, sound, staging and video. “What separates us is that we take an artistic approach,” Kehoe says. “We have a core understanding of the production side, but we look at it from a designer’s viewpoint.”

Number of blush-toned roses in one installation Kehoe did for a recent wedding at The Ritz-Carlton. “I get a lot of inspiration from nature,” Kehoe says. “And I love architecture. I see a beautiful building and think, ‘Oh my god, I could turn that into a buffet table design.’”


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