The Tables Have Turned…

Last night I attended my favorite annual DIFFA (Design Industries Foundation Fighting AIDS) event, Dining by Design, hosted by Architectural Digest. It’s an intimate and lively party where internationally celebrated designers and local talent create inspiring three dimensional dining installations. Nestled up against Architectural Digest’s Home Design Show at Pier 94, this oasis of extraordinary dining environments sets the stage for five days of fundraising.

Every year, I look forward to the the feast of visual and culinary inspiration that is DBD, and I was not disappointed. Chef Geoffrey Zakarian of The Lambs Club had crazy-delicious bites in Chinese soup spoons—one with a scallop and another with an english pea puree—and Effen Vodka was serving up delectable cucumber-vodka tonics. Tonight will be the second part of DBD: a $500/ticket gala dinner where attendees will dine in the dreamed-up spaces and then dance the night away.

The installations will be on display to the public today through Sunday. Tickets are $25 and benefit DIFFA.

Here’s a sneak peek…

I loved Design Within Reach’s (table above) miniatures (below) at each setting!
Loved the chairs at Domoore Designs table (below)

The equestrian references all over Eric Warner’s table (below) were clever and chic. Note bridal gear around light and hanging stirrup votives and I LOVE LOVE LOVED the plates! Side note: good use of Baccarat glassware.

Goil Amornvivat (you may recognize him from Bravo’s Top Design) & Tom Morbitzer’s (above) totally CNC-cut setting (below)—with American and Thai (Goil was born in Bangkok) references—was very cool. See their Frenchies in the background under the rainbow. Godzilla: very funny cliche reference. Love it.

Jonathan Adler did a stellar job with Kravet‘s table (below). I love his use of bathroom fixtures (?) as handles on the back of each section of the table. The backs of each seat are the walls of the unit.

Had a blast (drinking La Crema wine, a hugely-generous sponsor of the event) with friend, Marc Blackwell, at his gorgeous bar-height table (below). I particularly loved his filament fixture that ran the length of the table.

Marimekko’s wild and fabulous table was a serious show-stopper (below). LOVE!

Mark Cunningham‘s table (below) was definitely one of my favorites of the night. From the slatted walls to the leather chargers, it was warm, handsome and well-built. Absolutely gorgeous!

My husband, Ryerson Kipp (above), of The DSM Group admiring Maya Romanoff‘s golden palace of a table. When gabbing with (the handsome and elegant) Vicente Wolf, he said that—while he did not do a table this year—he helped these guys with their installation.
I thought the flooring (below) was made of placemats (which would be a really cool idea for a small space!), but I think they are samples of Romanoff surfaces.

And below is my favorite of the evening was this gem by Shawn Henderson Interior Design

New York Time’s table by DDC (below) was was a good example of how sometimes having strong pieces that speak for themselves is enough. The Baccarat chandelier is amazing and I love the tall Marcel Wanders piece in the middle. His collections for Baccarat are pure brilliance.

Pratt Institute
‘s table (below) wasn’t the most aspirational of spaces but it had a few really interesting things going on. Note the woven tabletop.

The Ralph Lauren team knocked it out of the park again with their super luscious lodge that was just the right mix of horn, fur and fire (below).

This table by RYDC was really fun. I loved the contrast of crustacean-laiden coral with high-shine lucite chairs (below).

This strung-out table (below) was by no means cozy, but it was BEAUTIFUL and so photogenic! The reflection of the long, narrow fixture in the tabletop was outrageous and all the materials used really spoke to one another. I think this is a good example of a wildly successful installation for this kind of event. Some tables are amazing in person but terrible in photos. This one was striking in person and even more so on film.

Swarovski’s table (below) was wild with wrap-around flat screens playing sparkly, blue video. At each place-setting: platinum Aegean china by always-ultra-glamorous (yet practical) L’Objet.

I really loved the floral arrangements from Maya Romanoff’s table (below) and Liebherr’s table (far below). Very fresh and springy!

Dining By Design 2012

The Dining by Design circuit begins again next month (March 22-26) at Pier 94 on the west edge of Manhattan at 55th Street. Always starting in New York and then traveling to other major domestic design hubs, this annual soiree—hosed by Architectural Digest and benefiting DIFFA (Design Industries Foundation Fighting AIDS)—is a party to behold.

2012 will be (I think) my 10th year in attendance—thanks originally to my mentor from my early 20’s (to present), Ted Kruckel, who brought me to my first DBD as his assistant. I got all gussied up, shadowed him and took notes: who he spoke with, highlights of the event including food, flow, lighting, celebrities (and famous drag queens), you know… the vitals. All it took was one beach-themed table with barely-dressed lifeguards and I was hooked. Now, every year, I look forward to the the feast of visual and culinary inspiration that is DBD; the new and exciting decor ideas, the classics reinvented, delicious bites from top chefs, endless cocktails, impulsive silent auction must-haves, and the run-ins with old friends. Here are a sampling of my photos from last year’s unveiling.


Benjamin Moore exhibit: creative way to make light of the vast array of their hues.


DVF's table. Fun atmosphere.


Super chic and so well done! I didn't catch who designed it but makes me think of the Furry Wall song from Russell Brand's flick, Get Him to the Greek.


This table smelled so good! Fragrant spring flowers at each setting will make for happy guests.

With friend, Marc Blackwell at his table. He grew amaryllis all summer (for the foliage, not the flower), photographed them and then blew them up to decorate his super comfortable, custom table.

Loved this comfy, technicolor party table by Scandia. Great atmosphere!

Great atmosphere and fabulous mid-century chairs. LOVE the wings, very rock n roll

Ralph Lauren table. They always do a nice job but this year was so simple (looking) and country comfy.


My husband, Ryerson Kipp, of The DSM Group with designer Michael Tavano. Note Michael's amazing chairs with lucite back and flokati seats! yum

Click here to see more photos from DBD 2011 in my event coverage for Health & Life magazine from last March.
To learn more about DBD and DIFFA and to buy tickets (will be on sale soon).
To host your own installation click here. To contribute to the silent auction click here.

Chic, Playful & Mobile Vaca Trailer…

DIFFA (Design Industries Foundation Fighting AIDS)
just announced their 30 for 30 online auction to raise money for DIFFA and to commemorate their 30 years of fighting AIDS. There are some great (tho pricey) pickins in there—including lunch consultation with Kelly Wearstler—so check it out.

I saw this Great American Woody (designed by Brad Ford) at Dining by Design this year and they are auctioning it off. It’s GORGEOUS and would be a great mobile vacation home for 2 or mobile party for many! At least check it out—it’s so cute and chic! Think tailgating at the Hampton Classic next summer…