pipe and drape
July 14, 2015

Six Ways to Dress Up Your Drape Line: Pipe and Drape Transformed

Since the inception of live stage performances there has been one consistent element that hasn’t changed much: the use of drapery.

Beginning with the ever-present curtain, the main purpose of drapery has been to conceal what the producers of the show do not want you to see.
Today, corporate live events have adopted drapery for the same reasons.

There are a variety of aspects of a live show that should always remain hidden from attendees. Most commonly, these are the piles of technical equipment and computers required to run the audiovisuals, crew members racing around, and sometimes just an ugly back wall in the ballroom.

Kick Your Boring Pipe and Drape to the Curb

You’ve most likely spent a lot of time and money in designing a general session stage and now you’re about to build it in front of the same old black pipe and drape. It doesn’t have to be that way.

Flat Panels Look Modern and Minimal

In Europe, surprisingly, they use very little pipe and drape in ballrooms. Often times you will see more rigid flat walls covered in fabric, panels that set up and break down modularly or hard walls that extend from behind the decking all the way to the far left and right corners of the room. One thing you quickly notice is that these panels look far more elegant than drape.

Never Look at Pipe and Drape the Same Way

But we understand that cost is a major driving force in many corporate events and in the U.S., flat wall backdrops can be budget busters due to the increased labor needed to set them up. So, what can we do to our old friend The Drape Line to make it more interesting?

Create Color and Movement with Drape Projection

Projection is one answer. Consider your drape to be an extension of your screens. Go ahead and project on it.

You can create movement, color, and depth on that black surface easily with either lighting patterns or DL fixtures (lighting fixtures that can also project images).

Layered Drape Lines Create Depth

You can create layers. Add a low drape line about five feet tall in front of your back drape and put some lighting fixtures in the space between the two drapes.This will give you some depth to the backdrop and allow a unique glow to emerge behind the front five-footer.

You can create layers. Add a low drape line about five feet tall in front of your back drape and put some lighting fixtures in the space between the two drapes.This will give you some depth to the backdrop and allow a unique glow to emerge behind the front five-footer.

Floor or Moving Lights Add Splashes of Color

Lighting is another great way to take the “ho hum” out of a long wall of drape. Simple floor lights can add splashes of color and more advanced moving lights can give you both patterns and gentle movement.

Spice it Up With Gobo Light Projections

Take your lighting a step further with Gobo projections. Gobos are essentially stencils placed in front of your light source to project a simple image on your drape.They’re another great way to spice up the black hole that is pipe and drape, but you must remember those pleats. Make your projected image BIG and with as little detail as possible so you don’t obscure your image inside the waves of the drape.

Put Something in Front of It!

Let’s not forget, your drape line is a backdrop. So put something in front of it! Hanging signs work very well and can often times be lashed directly to the top bar of the drapery.Transparent fabric sheers can add both color and depth, along with additional branding to jazz up your pipe and drape.

Ask your event staging partner if they have any alternative colors. Mix and match grey and black to add some dimension.

Play With Shapes and Angles

Create shapes. Who says your drape line has to be in a straight line? Put a curve to it or add some angles. Have fun. There are no rules. That pipe and drape material is modular and quite flexible.

Arguably, your pipe and drape (in most cases) is the largest standing structure in your ballroom and often times is a missed opportunity to create an immersive environment in the general session.

Have some fun with your drape line. Dress it up. Don’t let your drapery be drudgery.

Live Event Production CTA White

  • SHARE

One Response

  1. Ben Allen says:

    I appreciate the tips on how to make your pipe and drape better. I really like the idea of possibly putting a projector on your drapes and allow them to be an extension of your projection, this could really create a cool look on the drapes. My mom is looking into renting some equipment, I will be sure to share these tips with her.

Leave a Reply