Setting a place for style (and substance)

There’s not a bad seat in the house.

That was the feeling you had after touring the selection of artistic, whimsical and fanciful tables set for the annual Dining by Design benefit held at the Architectural Digest Home Design Show in Manhattan in late March.

DIFFA: Design Industries Foundation Fighting AIDS again tapped a stellar roster of notables from the fashion, interior design, art and architectural worlds to create dining vignettes. With participation from individuals, firms and educational institutions including Ralph Lauren, Calvin Klein, Diane von Furstenberg, Design Within Reach, the Fashion Institute of Technology and the New York School of Interior Design – just a small sampling of the dozens – the showroom floor simply dazzled with creativity.

The tabletops not only served once again as inspiration for the Pier 94 showgoers but also as the backdrop for special fundraising events for DIFFA, which is marking its 30th anniversary.

During the preview, WAG had the chance to catch up with Marc Blackwell of Marc Blackwell New York, who was putting the finishing touches on his bold creation.

What, we asked, were the designers given to work with?

“Just the size,” the longtime participant told us.

“I’ve done 14 tables, so my parameters are that it’s a self-contained table.”

And indeed, his dome-shaped creation truly invited you in to celebrate spring, new beginnings. The bold hues, the custom-made dinnerware and the cluster of vases holding poppy stems were at once contemporary and timeless.

As Blackwell, a DIFFA board member, explained, the tabletops that together created the most eclectic surroundings had themes and messages that ran deeper than their surface beauty. His, for example, was a nod to DIFFA and its enduring support of those living with HIV/AIDS.

“The 30 vases on the table represent the 30 years of DIFFA, in celebration of DIFFA’s 30 years of giving.”

It was a fitting tribute, one that would be welcome at any table.

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