How I Missed the Obvious Plus Highlights From the DIFFA Dining By Design Gala
Sometimes I can be so clueless.
While I have attended the spectacular pageant that is DIFFA'S Dining by Design many, many times in the past as part of my visit to the Architectural Digest Home Show, I have never attended the gala before.
Why not you ask, especially since it is such a worthy cause? DIFFA stands for Design Industries Foundation Fighting Aids.
Well truth be told, I am a closet introvert, and going solo to giant parties like the DIFFA gala have me inwardly quaking. The last time I went to a big gala by myself, I wanted to crawl inside a hole and pull a cover over my head, although you could never tell from this picture.
I have learned to mask my feelings very well. But it remains terribly hard for me, so I avoid such events like the plague.
As I result, I simply couldn't force myself to attend the DIFFA gala, despite the fact that everybody who is anybody in the world of design supports DIFFA in spades. Until this year.
Earlier this week, I sucked it up, put on a cocktail dress and went to the party. And that is when I discovered I had missed the very obvious.
For those of you who might be unfamiliar, at the DIFFA Dining by Design extravaganza, top designers and industry leaders team up to produce incredibly imaginative and inspiring dining room settings that positively astound the eye. There are bold colors, plays on perspective, enormous floral displays, glorious fabrics and china, gorgeous furniture and stunning art.
And you know what happens at the gala? You get to sit down amidst all that superlative creativity and eat dinner at those fabulous tables!
How did I not put this together before ? I simply never fathomed that the magnificent dining vignettes were actually used.
I had a wonderful evening.
I got to the gala because I was asked in person by talented interior designer Darrin Varden--it is much easier to dodge email and snail mail invites :-). Thanks for getting me out, Darrin. MWAH!
Darrin partnered with the venerable porcelain firm Lladro to produce a table for the New York Times. Seen above, his vignette shined with Lladro's Belle de Nuit sconces and two chandeliers. Lladro's Horses Group sculptures and Equus tableware ground the center of the tabletop.
We sat on chairs by Artistic Frame in a brand new ebonized, strie finish and upholstered in Stark fabric. For the walls, Darrin also turned to Stark for wallpaper. I was quite taken with Stark's new introduction Paria Canyon wallpaper in graphite, a marble-like design. Inventively, Darrin used this wallpaper on the floor as well.
As a designer, Darrin shared with me that art is frequently a catalyst for his designs. A highlight of Darrin's vignette is the stunning painting he chose by artist Claire Sherman entitled Diagonal Tree.
I was fortunate to sit next to Claire at dinner. Claire explained to me that this painting was inspired by California's redwood forest. She added that she is often stirred by majestic settings and strives (quite successfully in my opinion) to express the sublime in her art.
Darrin made a powerful statement when he addressed the table after our meal. He opened with a joke about his color palette--it's "black and white and re(a)d all over" like the newspaper he partnered with-- but then quickly shifted the mood.
Darrin eloquently expressed the meaning of the entire evening by describing the metaphor he saw in Claire Sherman's painting and the fight against AIDS:
“I saw these gorgeous, broken, fallen trees, once so strong, ravaged yet still beautiful, still imposing in their beauty, paralleling the destruction of AIDS on the landscape of humanity. The beauty of the memory of those we lost is juxtaposed against trees that are still standing, those for whom HIV is no longer a death sentence...” ending with a pledge that someday the forest would be wholly green and HIV would be no more.
It was hard to keep a dry eye.
Enjoy some of the other beautiful tables at DIFFA Dining By Design 2016. Believe me, I am so happy I went.
Another New York Adventure.
New York Design Center, designed Antonino Buzzetta
Antonino Buzzetta crafted the perfect downtown NYC rooftop celebration to fete the New York Design Center's 90th birthday. Love the graffiti walls.
Luxe Interiors +Design with LIAIGRE, designed by Sasha Bikoff
Having just returned from northern Africa, I was quite taken with the African theme devised by Bronson Van Wyck for the Architectural Digest table. The striped tablecloth in Selby linen by Larsen evokes traditional kuba cloth, which is enhanced by the framed textiles on the wall. Tucker Robbins pendants further set the scene.
Crate and Barrel, designed by Spring Street Social Society
Love wins. This table is all about love, as the designers created reflective, infinite hearts.
Interior Design Magazine Designed by Ali Tayar, Produced by SilverLining Interiors
There is no doubt about the message here. Designer Ali Tayar reminds us that the fight against AIDs demands an endless supply of hope.
Photo credits: First image of Darrin Varden's table and the close up of the tabletop by Alan Barry. Image of Claire Sherman's painting from her website. Tina Ramchandani's tabletop from her Instagram. All other photos by Lynn Byrne for Decor Arts Now.