Michigan Design
Designer Spotlight

DIFFA: DINING BY DESIGN – Designing for a Cause

The event was held in a space with a history of great design. Until 1959, the Edith and Benson Ford Conference Center at College for Creative Studies in Detroit was home base for iconic automobile designer Harley Earl, GM’s vice president of design who created many of the automaker’s more noted designs in that space. Newly renovated, the space was a perfect foil for the 22 dining installations created by some of metro-Detroit’s leading designers. We are sharing a few of our favorites, featuring products from Michigan Design Center.

Art | Harrison InteriorsArturo Sanchez and Barry Harrison of Art | Harrison Interiors created an elegant dining salon with upholstered wall panels covered in silk fabric from Jim Thompson, from Tennant & Associates showroom. A Macassar Ebony dining table by Constantini and velvet side chairs were loaned by The Designer Group Collection showroom. Completing the room was lighting from Baker Knapp & Tubbs and a silk and wool rug on loan from Stark Carpet. “What an exciting event for Detroit,” says Arturo, “We were so happy to do this. We’re already thinking about next year!”

Diane HancockDiane Hancock of Diane Hancock Designs used a painting by Lenore Gimpert (shown at TRA Art Group) as inspiration for her installation. Diane got friends and neighbors together to hand-cut the hundreds of pieces for her three-dimensional flowers that appear to be coming to life outside the painting. “It is such a great cause,” Diane says, “I had no problem getting lots of friends to help.” She mixed chairs (shaped like people at a party) by Christopher Guy from the Robert Allen | Beacon Hill showroom with chairs by Constantini (from The Designer Group Collection showroom) around a custom-cut dining table with sculptural vases inset in the top. The hues in the rug from Ghiordes Knot echo the soft tones of the painting.

Richard Ross

Richard Ross of Richard Ross Designs believes that executing an event of this caliber underscores how important Detroit can be when acting on the national stage. Richard explains, “The venue, the cause, the energy, and all the people pulling together for a common purpose made it a spectacular event. And combining it with the ArtWorks Auction was brilliant – there was art everywhere, and something fo everyone to enjoy.”

His team engineered a steel framework, and draped the two side walls with semi-sheer fabric from Kravet. The back wall was upholstered in a spice-toned silk by Fabricut from the Marie-Howard Showroom, which created a dramatic field for the painting that inspired his vignette, Igor Marina’s “Avalokiteshvara”. The painting’s title is Sanskrit for “The One Who Hears the Cries of the World”, and the subject is a deity of Mahayana Buddhism, the Bodhisattva of Infinite Compassion. The square dining table is from The Designer Group Collection, and seating is part of the Thomas Pheasant Collection from Baker Knapp & Tubbs. Richard designed a custom rug for the installation, using a zebra-patterned field with a wide leather border.

Jimmy AngellAs the 2010 Detroit Home Design Awards “Rising Star”, Jimmy Angell of James Douglas Interiors was selected by Hour Media to design their installation. Jimmy used a clever mix of text-related décor, weaving oversized lettered strips into a metal grid to form the walls, and using Lori Weitzner’s “Newsworthy” wallpaper from Tennant & Associates showroom for the placemats. The sisal rug is from Stark Carpet showroom. An assortment of antiques and designer’s own furnishings round out this space. “What a great message that Detroit is on the rebound,” says Jimmy. “So happy to be part of the first Dining By Design in Detroit.”
Michael CoyneMichael Coyne of Michael Coyne Design created a vignette inspired by one of his favorite places – his family’s cottage on Otsego Lake in northern Michigan. He went all out, trucking in six 9-foot tall live Techey trees to form his own forest in the installation, and a 20-foot mural of the sun setting over the lake. Furnishings were from the cottage itself, and other family finds were used to accessorize the display. Michael is no stranger to Dining By Design events, having attended three times in other cities. When a friend invited him to be part of the host committee, he immediately agreed. “I knew we could do a spectacular event in Detroit,” he explains. “This is a cause that is important, and I am glad we brought this event to Detroit.”
Jones-Keena & Co.Ian Hartwell of Jones-Keena & Co. designed a beautiful cabana vignette patterned after his own patio at home. The creamy fabric was trimmed and tied with black, and a bold black on cream pattern from F. Schumacher showroom was used on the pillows. He carefully created a tiled mosaic floor, and used garden benches from his own collection for seating. Ian was so pleased to be part of the first DIFFA event in Detroit, saying “This is an amazing event to have here. Look at what was created – and I think the guests just loved it.”

To view a bio and additional work samples from Arturo Sanchez and Barry Harrison, click here.
To view a bio and additional work samples from Diane Hancock, click here.
To view a bio and additional work samples from Richard Ross, click here.
To view a bio and additional work samples from Jimmy Angell, click here.
To view a bio and additional work samples from Michael Coyne, click here.
To view a bio and additional work samples from Ian Hartwell, click here.
To learn more about DIFFA: Design Industries Foundation Fighting AIDS and Dining By Design,
visit www.diffa.org.
All photos courtesy Misty Minna Photography www.mistyminna.com.



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