The Lavish Lab Experience

Photos by Randy Stern
Photos by Randy Stern

According to its creators, Lavish Lab may be a “new baby” in décor, design and event planning, but really it is the fruition of more than 20 years’ experience. The studio is located in Northeast Minneapolis and run by Scott Beck and Marshall Kudi Ngwa, who you might also know as the winner of Ru Paul’s Drag Show season one, superstar BeBe Zahara Benet.

Kudi Ngwa, considers Minneapolis his second home. When he returned here after performing and working New York, he noticed there was something missing in terms of “extravagancy” in event planning. That’s where Lavish comes in. “What do they get to touch, what do they get to feel, what’s the fantasy?” says Kudi Ngwa, as he delves into the details of curating someone’s dream event. “More is more,” he adds with emphasis. “Making you feel like you’re transported into a different kind of world, whatever that is, and really bringing your imagination to life as close as we can get that to be.”

Beck and Kudi Ngwa,’s worlds collided in the early 2000s when an emerging Minneapolis drag circuit queen BeBefound out that Beck was a professional ballroom dancer and enlisted him to help choreograph part of a performance. They’ve been best friends and frankly, like family, ever since. Their careers have taken them all over the United States and around the world; more than 20 years later they’re ready to be reintroduced to Minneapolis in a big way.

They had planned to launch the brick-and-mortar space of Lavish Lab in 2019 before COVID-19 effectively deflated all ideas of extravagant gatherings. However, they considered the time in-between one for creativity and growth. They built and curated their ideal space in the meantime. It would be impossible to easily summarize the scope of their combined experience but Kudi Ngwa’s background in fashion and design, meld with Scott’s theater, dance and design skills to craft a beautifully lavish partnership.

Kudi Ngwa says that curating an amazing event begins with making clients feel comfortable. “Let’s have a glass of wine and let’s just talk. I think if you really want to help someone, you really want to know them, then what are the things that they love?” As I begin to melt into a furry, snow-white couch with Kudi Ngwa and Scott sitting adjacent on either side of me, my “interview” has devolved into a casual chat, my notebook questions ignored. Although there’s no wine and I’m not a client, this must be exactly the way they put people at ease.

Beck adds that there are job titles at Lavish, but depending on the project, either of them can take the reins. “Sometimes, Marshall will be what we’ll call the ‘head’ person and have the overall vision and everyone else rallies around that person to create that fantasy,” he says. Or, if Beck has an idea everyone may rally around him in the same way. That can involve anything from vision boards, meetings and phone calls, or using their studio to showcase their painstakingly crafted themes and décor. In various rooms around the space there are bouquets of flowers showcasing dozens of spectrums of color: a lounge space lit in lilac low lights and royal purple pillows arranged on a purple couch behind a fluffy, cotton-candy pink throw rug.

After they chat with clients, they begin to craft a very individualized experience. “You learn things that they maybe never would’ve shared before like ‘you like mermaids and like the color turquoise because of that,” Beck says. Uncovering someone’s unique individualities is one of their favorite parts of the job. “We want you to feel like you have an event that you designed; it’s like you walk into a room and say ‘this is more than I could’ve ever imagined.”

Kudi Ngwa insists that no one must leave Minnesota to bring their dream event to life. “I think that’s what we’re trying to do with Lavish is take all of our experiences of being well traveled, to bring those here and say we can fill that void.” While Kudi Ngwa is still currently performing as BeBe (he has been very, very busy), recently he has been more engrossed in creating the Lavish Lab experience.

“Marshall will tell you that BeBe is a part of who he is, it’s not necessarily two separate people,” Beck says. “When we’re doing Lavish stuff you’re getting a bit of BeBe, when he’s performing, you’re getting a little bit of Lavish. For him creativity is creativity and it lives inside of him.” Their friendship is part of what makes Lavish Lab magical and their designs so compelling.

One project they were particularly proud of was designing a holiday window display for a BIPOC pop up shop in downtown Minneapolis. They absolutely loved the experience, but wish that there were more opportunities to do so. “For me personally, there are not a lot of People of Color in this space in Minneapolis and I think that just being able to bring a little bit of that diversity here in the city and creating a different kind of energy is very important,” Kudi Ngwa says. “How can I contribute my gift into the space that I’m living in?”

Beck, touches on the “biracial-ness” of their company. “Marshall being from Cameroon and being able to represent other cultures, it affords us and Marshall to go into a [different] space.” He adds that BIPOC creatives are not taking up nearly enough space in these artistic domains. “So for him to be a voice for those people and those cultures brings a whole new perspective to this game. That is also something that this company represents.”

Beck and Kudi Ngwa have begun to carve out their own space here where everyone’s ideas are welcome, and dreams can become realities. “I always say I am who I am because of the village behind me and having someone like Scott, and Diego (their marketing manager who works from Arizona), is something that I don’t take lightly,” Marshall adds. “We love Minnesota and we love the fact that we can bring that kind of energy. I would just encourage our leaders and our people to take chances: to be able to not only live out loud but be able to dream.”

The Lavish Lab
Northrup King Building, Minneapolis, MN
(612) 232-5546

Lavender Magazine Logo White

5100 Eden Ave, Suite 107 • Edina, MN 55436
©2024 Lavender Media, Inc.

Accessibility & Website Disclaimer