Sunday, March 29, 2009

Dining by Design 2009

Someone recently left a nasty comment on another blog chastising them for having a party in this economy. I think a party is exactly what everyone could use right now, especially one that employs hundreds of people and brings designers together for a worthy cause. Last Thursday night, I had the pleasure of attending the Cocktails by Design party for the 2009 DIFFA Dining by Design event which I have to say was one of the most fun parties I've been to in a while!

For those who don't know, DIFFA stands for Design Industries Foundation Fighting AIDS and each year in different cities, designers and sponsors get together to create amazing dining tables for a Gala Dinner to benefit DIFFA. It is an event full of creativity, thoughtfulness and fun with designers coming out to support other designers.

I went to the event to support my friend, interior designer Brad Ford who designed the most talked about table at the event! His theme "Change is Good" was conceived with the notion that everyone has spare change in their pocket that they could contribute to support DIFFA, hence the piggy banks!

As you can see in this photo, Brad created a bamboo table with a lucite top, with the help of Siegfried's Basement, Inc., in which slots were cut in front of each place setting so that money could be dropped into the table as well as the piggy banks. The base which you can't see was created by Morgik Metal Designs.

The napkins were custom embroidered by Copper Pig in Russelville, Arkansas, Brad's hometown! I was thinking that Brad should start a furniture line. I'm picturing the table in a beach house with sand and seashells under the top. The glassware from Roost is available at Gracious Home.

Here is my friend Kelly Reynolds making a donation into one of the slots. On a side note, look for a post about Kelly and her roommates who have created a line of hair accessories, one of which she is wearing, that they will be selling soon! You can also see the fabulous leather and suede campaign chairs in this shot that I loved! They were designed by Jim Zivic and are available from Ralph Pucci. The folding screens are from Richard Wrightman Design, who also has a beautiful line of campaign furniture.

All of the piggy banks were collected by friends and family and also found on eBay. Brad mentioned that they might sell them after Monday's Gala Dinner but there is a rumor that since the response to the table was so great, DIFFA has asked if it could travel to all of the Dining by Design cities. I'll keep you posted!

As I walking through the event, who should I see but Kansas City interior designer John Rufenacht and his partner Richard Lara! What a fabulous surprise! John founded Dining by Design in Kansas City and I was lucky enough to meet him while I was there last June. Kelly and I had a great time chatting with the men about the tables, art, design and "kraft" night (inside joke)!

They also happened to be standing in front of another wildly creative table that to me looked like a formal dinner party that Jean-Michel Basquiat would have thrown!

As we were admiring the table, I was delightfully surprised to find out that it was designed by Michael Tavano! I first met Michael at a dinner party thrown by Mathew White of White Webb and now we keep running into each other all over town! He was asked by the New York Design Center, where his showroom is located, to design their table and was inspired by the New York Delft Tableware from Lovegrove & Repucci that features scenes of New York and grafitti.

Here is a close up look at the china and Street Napkins which are also from Lovegrove & Repucci. The sillver is from Christofle and the chairs are from Baker, Knapp & Tubbs.

Michael named the table "Fine Dining. Urban Living." and set out to combine design elements from the NYDC showrooms with edgy street art. He contacted artist Christian Avila and explained his plan. Christian was very thoughtful in his design for the artwork in the space. He used floor plans as his canvas and "metaphors to express his interpretation of DIFFA's cause."

Christian depicted AIDS as a Ninja, the silent killer, while the Japanese symbol for life above it represents how far we have come in fighting the disease.

The gorgeous chandelier from Schonbek was from Metropolitan Lighting Fixture Co. and added to wonderful tableau.

Another favorite table was part of the Student Design Initiative and created by New York University, Tisch School of the Arts Department of Drama. They were advised by interior designer Miles Redd who I met for the first time at the party and who couldn't have been nicer. Under his wonderful tutelage, the students created a wonderfully fun pixelated room.

I'm not sure if you can tell by the photos, but the walls are chain link and have interlocking plastic pieces inserted that create a decorative pattern. I have no idea what this product is called so if anyone knows, please feel free to share. I did find the patent information online so you can see how it works. I love the pixelated Van Gogh painting and wine glasses on the table. Very creative!

Another fun and colorful table was designed by the students from Parsons who were advised by interior designer Vicente Wolfe.

The table from Kravet was a mix of fun fabrics and beach buckets and fine china.

The HP table matched it's new Vivian Tam mini laptop with a mix of reds and pinks.

Another favorite table was designed by fashion designer Tracy Reese. It had inspiration board walls and chairs wearing pretty dresses.

One of the first tables you saw when entering the venue was by Tracy Stern. It was a riot of color and tea sets since Tracy has a line of teas and is opening SalonTea Bar on the Upper East Side.

It was fun checking out all the different china patterns!

Italian winery and DIFFA sponsor, Castello di Gabbiano had a beautiful Tuscan table that was designed by Marc Blackwell who also designed the china. My favorite part of the table were the side panels that looked to be plexiglass and were printed with sepia tones scenes of Italy and the vineyard. They were hard to photograph at the evening event which was a shame.

I love that the table evokes the feeling of an Italian winery that relates to the sponsor.

The Center 44 "table" or in this case, chic little sitting room was designed by interior designer Susan Lawton. I wasn't sure how they were going to eat dinner without a table. I was picturing them balancing little bamboo trays on their knees like Nan Kemper used for dinner parties in her home.

This table was designed by Ralph Lauren Home and represents their new Black Sands collection.

This spring table with mushrooms and birds was designed by Eric Warner. There were many more tables that I missed and I'm sure they will be on the DIFFA website soon. It was a wonderful party to celebrate a wonderful event that benefits a wonderful cause and we all had a wonderful time! I applaud all the designers and sponsors who participated in Dining by Design this year and I can't wait to see what everyone does next year! This one will be hard to top!

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