Fantasy takes center stage at DIFFA Dining by Design

Detroit DIFFA Dining by Design event showcases inspiring tablescapes

Custom-posed mannequins. Cut-out wood panels. Hand-painted wood screens. Eight-foot tall floral arrangements. Salt floors.

Dining literally reached new heights at this year’s DIFFA Dining by Design Detroit event, an annual fundraiser for the Michigan AIDS Coalition. Held last weekend inside the former federal reserve building on West Fort Street in Detroit, thousands turned out to oogle 25 over-the-top dining installations created by designers, event planners, artists, students, architects, and florists.

And they weren’t disappointed. From the installation that featured four custom-posed mannequins (two of which were actually under the table, peeking at diners while they ate) to another that looked like a wedding party gone awry with tables suspended in mid-air, the installations were all about fantasy, whimsy and imagination.

“It’s a creative outlet and we have fun doing it, but the cause is really what draws us here,” says Shane Pliska, president of Planterra.

For designers, “what’s fun for them is there are no rules,” says Shanthi Sivanandham, the Michigan AIDS Coalition’s development and special events coordinator. “One of the biggest question I get is who is the client and what are the specifications. Here, you have no client, the specification comes from your heart. You get to show what you can do.”

DIFFA — which stands for Design Industries Foundation Fighting AIDS — started in 1984 as the HIV/AIDS crisis was just getting started. With local chapters now in place throughout the country, it’s raised more than $38 million for AIDS organizations. DIFFA Dining by Design Detroit has just marked its fifth year and has raised more than $500,000.

Some installations were deeply personal. Leslie Ann Pilling, owner of Presence II Productions, an experiential public relations firm, worked with Detroit artist Phillip Simpson on a custom made painting called “The Smile Brand.” It was inspired by her father, Dr. Arnold Remington Pilling, who died of AIDS 20 years ago.

He never really smiled before coming out, but after he did, “because he was being true to himself, he started smiling,” Pilling says.

Below is a compilation of some of my favorite installations, all of which have aspects that could certainly be emulated in a home tablescape (though on a smaller scale, of course). Enjoy!

mfeighan@detroitnews.com

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Designer Corey Damen Jenkins of Design With Vision Elegant Interiors says his concept was "Rooftop Paradise." He chose a chevron textile with autumnal color palette for the fitted table skirt. He mixed Chippendale chairswith Fretwork-styled side seating. In the center was an eight-foot tall floral tree arrangement by Affordable Flowers. (Photo: Clarence Tabb Jr / The Detroit News)

Designer Corey Damen Jenkins of Design With Vision Elegant Interiors says his concept was “Rooftop Paradise.” He chose a chevron textile with autumnal color palette for the fitted table skirt. He mixed Chippendale chairswith Fretwork-styled side seating. In the center was an eight-foot tall floral tree arrangement by Affordable Flowers. (Photo: Clarence Tabb Jr / The Detroit News)

Read the entire article here:  http://www.detroitnews.com/story/life/home-garden/2014/09/25/detroit-news-homestyle-diffa-dining-design/16231333/

 

Feighan, Maureen. “Tables That Are Tops.” Detroit News. 25 Sept. 2014. Web. 11 Mar. 2015. <http://www.detroitnews.com/story/life/home-garden/2014/09/25/detroit-news-homestyle-diffa-dining-design/16231333/>.