Bronson van Wyck is one of the world’s leading authorities on hospitality, celebrated for a style of entertaining that combines wit and sophistication with the gracious warmth of his Southern upbringing. An event planner of international renown, Bronson has organized some of the most memorable and imaginative parties of the past decade in locations all over the world.
In 1999, Bronson founded private event firm Van Wyck & Van Wyck with his mother Mary Lynn. Since then, Bronson has planned events around the world, from weddings to fashion shows, a presidential inauguration, the Democratic National Convention, the openings of New York’s High Line and Hearst Tower, a series of eight opening events celebrating the new location of the Whitney Museum of Art, and seasonal parties and product launches for luxury brands including Chanel, Hermes, Ferragamo, and Coach. He has worked with George Lucas, Sean Combs, Beyoncé, Alicia Keys, Hugh Jackman, for the Fords, Rockefeller and Mellon families, and for Presidents Clinton, Bush and Obama. Bronson is a founding partner of Workshop, a newly launched company focused on brand content, engagement and storytelling through experiences. Workshop creates engaging, authentic and disruptive platforms for brand communication and currently works with clients such as Tiffany, Jimmy Choo, Jaguar and Patek Philippe.
In 2012, Bronson introduced his own line of cocktail mixes under the Arrowhead Farms label, making his personal recipes, once available to only close friends and family, available to the public at gourmet grocery stores and fine gift shops nationwide. He worked for 15 years to save, design and build the High Line, volunteers at the East Harlem School at Exodus House, and is a trustee of the world famous Apollo Theater.
What do you do best?
We are good at making something beautiful and making someone feel beautiful but we are even better at listening. We listen to our clients – listen to what they say and listen to what they don’t say. Sometimes they can’t articulate what they want and it’s our job to help them define the objective and the vision. We make sure that those two things are in line; that the vision for the event and the experience of that event achieves the objective but also represents the vision.
What makes you the best?
It goes back to the vision and the objective. With Workshop, we really bring the event experience back to the objectives of the brand or corporation and then use the event platform as an opportunity for communication and persuasion. We always strive to build an experience that creates love for the brand, or love for the brand’s products, or maybe it creates a need that you have to have the product. I’ll take need but I prefer love because need makes you want to go buy something or use something but love makes you go buy it and tell all your friends about it. So we are using events to change people’s behavior.
My greatest success is that I get to do the thing that I love most. And with Van Wyck & Van Wyck, I get to do with two of the people that I love most in the world, my mother Mary Lynn and my sister Mimi. I get to see people that I love do what they love, do what they are sublimely good at – and I get to do this every day. I am going down to Florida to see them produce a roaring 20’s themed 90th birthday party and we get to do these things together and that’s wonderful. Work doesn’t feel like work with them.
What are your aspirations?
Personal: Reading more - I'm currently in the middle of Exit Through the Wound by North Morgan, which is making me lose sleep because I can't put it down at night, as well as a pair of biographies of the two female pharaohs Hatshepsut and Cleopatra, one of whom ruled Egypt as strongly as any man, the other by becoming the ultimate woman.
Business: I am most excited about my latest project, the launch of Workshop. It’s a full service experiential agency that creates engaging, authentic and compelling platforms for event and brand communication. Over the years, we’ve worked with some of the most established renowned luxury brands in the world and I can’t wait to watch the team grow this business and help brands tell their story with more than a traditional event.
Most challenging moment?
Managing a team – it’s by far the hardest part of my job but always the most fulfilling. Since 2001, the team has grown dramatically and now we are traveling the world building a new team with Workshop.
There is this great Winston Churchill quote when he is being introduced and somebody said, “You are the lion of England” and he said, “No, I am not the lion. The British people are the lion, I just got asked to give the roar”.
Just behind the curtain of an event we are producing - I like to slip into the shadows and watch people’s faces. There is nothing more fulfilling that to see an expression of unadulterated joy and to know that you were a part of it.
The High Line in New York – what was once a dilapidated, derelict, patchwork rail line has become a beauty – a floating magical ribbon through the west side of the city.
Books – especially European history. In my work life I get to create so many fantasies for people and bring to life so many of my own fantasies, that relaxation for me is reading about things that are real.
I have been traveling a lot for Workshop, especially to the west coast. I never leave home without consulting with the gurus at Marchay, a concierge service for business travel. No matter where I go, their team curates the best experience for me so it can get my work done with access to the best of everything local.