How DIFFA’s 2023 Fundraiser Explored Reuse at NYCxDESIGN
For the first time in its illustrious 40-year history, the Design Industries Foundation Fighting AIDS (DIFFA)’s annual fundraiser ran concurrently with the ICFF and WantedDesign Manhattan trade shows during NYCxDESIGN week. From May 21-23, DIFFA by Design harnessed the metropolitan design community’s myriad resources and fortitude with installations, experiential workshops, and a gala, with all proceeds supporting people affected by HIV/AIDs, homelessness, food insecurity and mental illness.
Kicking off on Monday at the Javits Center, DIFFA’s roster of more than 25 contributors ranged from renowned brands, iconic designers, local makers, manufacturers, and next-gen talent from New York’s eminent design schools. While adhering to this year’s theme of “Recycle, Reuse, and Repurpose,” each group showcased singular motifs and concepts for the fundraiser’s 13 installations.
For its showcase, Interior Design partnered with Formica, Situ Studio, Shaw Carpet and Reis Contracting to create a series of laminated-plywood plinths with eye-popping, Bauhaus-inspired graphics, emblazoned with positive messaging.
“History always informs the future,” noted Interior Design Editor-in-Chief and DIFFA chair Cindy Allen, “so we showcased Interior Design’s past designs ‘in miniature,’ along with our powerful themes—like Unity, Love & Hope—and then added this year’s message into the mix—with DIFFA’s expanded mission—that will provide aid to more people and make an even bigger DIFFA-rence!”
The School of Visual Arts’ cyberpunk hot air balloon—comprised of discarded and upcycled LED elements—aimed to inspire high-tech and off-beat solutions to poverty and inequality, while Western Sensibility and Focus Lighting invited guests to explore the language of color via digitally-printed textiles, tinted lights, and illustrations by Daphne Sweet, for a kaleidoscopic multi-sensorial feast dubbed “The Artist’s Studio.”
HOK offered guests a contemplative, quiet moment, cutting through the noise of everyday life with its cozy showcase “Respite Pod.” The serene, sculptural environment was furnished with textural and tactile materials and objects by Mohawk Group, Urban Office, Svend Nielsen, Arktura, Maharam, Blondie’s Treehouse, and Design Within Reach.
Clad in Baltic birchwood, the pod’s scalloped shell invoked biomorphic design principles, while its interior featured pebble-shaped ottomans, potted plants, and eco-friendly carpet tile. In keeping with DIFFA by Design’s sustainability theme, the pod will be repurposed as a reading nook in a children’s library after the fundraiser.
Florim and Perkins+Will used leftover porcelain surfaces and palettes to create “Highs and Lows,” an exhibition whose creation gave the source material a second life, rather than becoming waste bound for landfills and incinerators. The exhibit’s overlapping layers of mountain shapes evoke the natural world, highlighting the importance of preserving natural resources.
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