Free Press Summer Fest

Fancier Fancy Pants

The FPSF's Dutch Small goes all out to create the swankiest, most decadent Fancy Pants tents in festival history

By Darla Guillen May 30, 2013

Artist's rendering of the Blaffer Museum Fancy Pants Tent

For a publication that celebrates anniversaries with cakes reading “F**k Corporate Media” and stages the wildest music event of the year, Free Press Houston has managed to assemble a rather prestigious interior design and architectural team for this year’s Summer Fest.

Even before the show sold out, FPSF interior design director Dutch Small was intent on topping last year’s Fancy Pants tents—those exclusive shelters from the oppressive Houston heat where high-rolling hippies go to escape their free-spirit personae in favor of craft cocktails and air conditioning. This year, Small brought in veteran architects to implement the design team’s whimsical concepts for the 48,000 square feet of tented space FPSF is currently in the process of erecting at Eleanor Tinsley Park. That much real estate requires a small army of installers: 750 workers will spend 12 days setting up and then breaking down this year’s festival.  The tents won’t just be bigger, better, and fancy-pantsier, but will also double as an art-meets-food set of exhibits. (Read On the Town tomorrow for a sneak peek of the FPSF’s Uchi/Bun B food and music pairing.) 

The Blaffer Museum Fancy Pants tent under construction

Each Fancy Pants tent will have its own theme and sponsor. Using furniture donated by Ikea, Gensler architects designed the Phoenicia Specialty Food tent, which will feature 1,600 green Frisbees and a wheel of fortune game. The prize? Instructions on how to get into the official FPSF after-party at MKT Bar, featuring indie rock band Passion Pit. Gensler is also designing the Blaffer Art Museum tent, where guests will choose from 5,000 Uchi-created desserts and be taped eating them in slow motion. Fair warning: this chopped-and-screwed video will be used in an art piece after the festival.

Another tent, designed by Jonathan Andrew Sage, Inc. will feature chandeliers and a hanging garden of 200 flowers and plants. Hundreds of lanterns and Kinderbox accessories will illuminate the tent. Proceeds from the tent will go to support the Rise School for developmentally disabled children. The FPSF’s Dutch Small has even recruited mayor Annise Parker to promote the R-Word campaign, which combats derogatory language. Sage, Inc. is also outfitting the Absolut Texas tent, which will feature a blue interior punctuated by white crystal chandeliers, and white drapes. A bas-relief forest carved into floor-to-ceiling panels will be illuminated by blue lights, a reference to Konstantin Dimopoulos’s Blue Trees installation along Memorial Drive.  

“Our attendees are going to have a lot of fun,” an uncharacteristically modest Small tells On the Town. But on his Facebook page, the mad genius behind this extravagant playground comes out.

“I’m going to have Fancy Pants tattooed onto my heart!"

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