• Meet Lihi Gerstner, The Event Architect

    Lihi Gerstner is bringing Splacer to Chicago, an online marketplace offering a sharing economy for unique, short-term event spaces.

     
    FROM THE Fall 2017 ISSUE
     

When you’re looking for the most unique, beautiful space for your next meeting or event, trust the architects. Lihi Gerstner (and her business partner Adi Biran) are world-renowned building designers that launched a new business called Splacer in 2014. The online marketplace acts like an Airbnb for short-term event rentals and features some of the most unique, surprising options in a major metro area. While the service has gained popularity in New York City, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Miami, the duo decided to make their fifth location Chicago. “We personally love all the great architecture in the city, and it made us inspired to move our latest operation there,” says Gerstner.

ILM+E: How did you and Adi come up with the idea for Splacer?
LG:
Adi and I met while studying architecture in New York, and over the past 15 years, we’ve done many projects together— designing buildings, houses and neighborhoods. But we started to understand how much space is out there that’s not being utilized. Instead of building more, we wanted to figure out a way to reuse the existing and recycle space. And as we did so, the connection between architecture and the event world started to become clear.

ILM+E: What are some of the most original spaces in Chicago that have come online through Splacer?
LG:
Planners know better than us all the designated event and commercial spaces, so we wanted to strive to feature unknown options. We have incredible rooftops, distilleries, museums, galleries, unconventional offices, photo studios, mansions, even co-working spaces. They are all beautifully designed and have capabilities for meetings, corporate events and social parties

ILM+E: How is Splacer a tool that can help planners?
LG:
Our filters and our search tools are very specific, which means whatever you are looking for, you can find it much easier. Maybe it’s a Greek-style wedding venue with a yellow kitchen, for example. With our tags and filters you can find exactly what you need, and the search results may present something you weren’t even thinking of. Like any sharing economy model the planner also gets to talk directly to the owner and can ask questions and book visits with more ease. Our space owners also have a convenient platform for leads, sending quotes, sharing menus, etc. What we’ve seen is a real sense of collaboration and a sense of synergy between owner and event organizer and guest. Guests may go to a gallery and buy a piece of artwork to take home, or a planner might book a distillery and then have the chance to get an automatic liquor sponsor. It’s not just the places but the things happening in the places that makes it so appealing.

Dawn Young first joined Choose Chicago in June 2005 as director of association sales, and in May this year, was promoted to vice president of hotel sales. It’s a perfect example of rising up the ranks for someone who’s so passionate about moving tourism forward. Though her experience in the industry runs deep, she’s got her work cut out for her to keep the numbers growing: Chicago set a tourism record in 2017 with more than 55 million visitors. A major reason for that? “Chicago just rocks accessibility,” says Young.

 

Embrace cool weather and warm colors with this autumnal drink.