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TORONTO Fluid, circular shapes filled the Design Exchange on Saturday for this year’s DX Black and White gala, which had a “binary” theme. Decor was inspired by work from the evening's honourees, Canadian product designer Karim Rashid and his brother, Hani Rashid, and Lise Ann Couture of Asymptote Architecture. All three designers often use organic shapes, such as Karim Rashid’s OH Chair and Hani Rashid and Couture’s Yas Marina Hotel in Abu Dhabi.
“This year’s gala honourees gave us a fabulous opportunity to play off some very talented, amazing designers,” said Gillian Hoff, vice president of special events at the Design Exchange. “I had a lot of fun using parts of their designs and incorporating them into the decor for the evening.” The staggered event began with a V.I.P. cocktail reception and dinner for 220 guests from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.. The after-party, which reeled in a record 1,000 guests, began on the historic trading floor at 8 p.m.
With the help of Eric Aragon, creative director at Solutions With Impact, and Catherine Fowler, president of Element Events Management, Hoff brought circular and wave-like shapes into every aspect of the decor from the glassware to the centrepieces. In V.I.P. dining room, hundreds of round balloons hung from the ceiling, “keeping with the theme of using circles and spirographs,” Hoff said. “It’s the craziest thing I’ve ever done.” The balloons were lit from above and changed colour with each course, beginning with blue, morphing to pink for the main, changing to orange for dessert, and ending in red.
Ice sculptures from Iceculture were an important part of the decor and proved a great way to create custom pieces around the three honourees. For the after-party on the historic trading floor, large ice replicas of Karim Rashid’s Garbino garbage cans lined the bar and Hani Rashid’s Alessi pencil holder was re-imagined as a candleholder and floral centrepiece, both made completely of ice. In the all-black reception space, lit ovoid ice sculptures, mimicking the honourees' fluid designs, served as centrepieces on every cocktail table.
Hoff turned to two new vendors this year. Eurolite, traditionally a non-renting lighting company, provided eye-catching lighting displays throughout the party. On the trading floor, the design team hung an eight-foot lampshade and 50 copper and silver globes from a square truss. “This was very challenging from the perspective that the lighting fixtures are meant to be permanent installations instead of a one-evening event decor piece,” Hoff said. BoxTop Productions was also new to the supplier list this year and created three-dimensional mappings on the walls of the trading floor. They added whimsy and “brought the wall to life,” Hoff said. The glass panels on the wall appeared to wobble, binary numbers floated from the wall, and hands on the clock seemed to speed up.
The decor was complex but always tied to the designers’ work. “I feel like the success of this event was in all the different elements and the layering,” said Hoff.