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Avi Adler's Decor for Robin Hood

June 6, 2001, 12:00 AM EDT

Adler created four large tables, each topped with 81 green poles that rose almost 20 feet in a grid pattern.

Robin Hood Foundation benefitJacob K. Javits Convention Center Thursday, 05.31.01, 6 PM onward
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For the Robin Hood Foundation's annual gala--perhaps the big-time benefit of the spring--Avi Adler designed not one, but two separate--but equally surreal--environments for the star-packed evening. The event raised $13.5 million for the nonprofit, which funds educational, hunger relief and youth-training programs--and has become the darling of young, wealthy New Yorkers and celebs including Elle Macpherson, Heidi Klum, Gwyneth Paltrow and Meg Ryan, all of whom showed up for the big benefit.

One of the huge spaces in the northern wing of the Javits Center gave Adler and his partner, David Stark, plenty of room to work, and they filled the space with dramatic, original decor. (They took some time, too--Stark told us it took three days to set up, and some of the audiovisual preparations started two weeks before the event.)

For the cocktail area, Adler created four large tables, each topped with 81green poles in a grid pattern that rose almost 20 feet from a bed of green stones and yellow pompon flowers. The large room was bathed in constantly moving green light, and an image was projected on the room's long, back wall, showing green tree tops (it looked a bit like broccoli florets). Adler told us his inspiration came during a trip to Holland, as he was driving past fields of trees planted in perfectly arranged grids. The result was an atmosphere that looked nothing like any other benefit this year.

When it was time for dinner, a piece of the projection wall raised to reveal the dinner area, which was a vision in black and white, with lots of geometric patterns. “It's all very graphic and very Op Art,” Stark told us. Adler and Stark created a vast, circular-shaped space by draping the walls with alternating patches of black and white fabric. Images were projected on the white patches throughout the night: first rapidly moving black and white kaleidoscope images as people entered, then slower patterns during dinner and later bursts of color. “The decor's constantly moving and changing,” Stark said. (See photographs of the dining area of this event...)

The huge amount of space--which you'd have trouble finding anywhere else in Manhattan--managed to fit almost 300 tables for 10 with plenty of room to spare for the army of caterwaiters from Glorious Food. The tables varied (some with black chairs, some with white) and all were covered with a variety of black and white patterned tablecloths--stripes, checks, checkerboard print--and had white peony centerpieces.

With entertainment from M.C. Jerry Seinfeld, the event also included a silent auction (by Jamie Niven of Sotheby's) of celebrity-donated items and experiences, including a yoga class with Madonna and Paltrow, and a series of lunches with business heavies including Warren Buffett, Rupert Murdoch and George Soros.

After the auction, one of the panels dropped to reveal a stage and confetti canons launched black, white and silver confetti before Robert Plant and his band performed in front of a checkerboard-patterned dance floor.

--Chad Kaydo

See photographs of the dining area of this event...

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