Diffa Dining by Design Returns With Fewer Tables, More Butterflies and Chandeliers

By Jenny Berg November 10, 2010, 12:49 PM EST

Photo: Barry Brecheisen Photography

Dining by Design, a benefit for Design Industries Foundation Fighting AIDS, returned to the Merchandise Mart last week, from November 2 through 4. Consisting of a cocktail party, a chef's tasting, and a sit-down dinner, the three-day event showcased tabletop trends with 25 vignettes. Each display area housed a table decorated by a design-industry professional, and participants ranged from interior designer Jillian Harris (of Bachelorette fame) to event designer Tom Kehoe of Kehoe Designs.

This year's showcase was significantly smaller than its previous iteration, which had more than 40 tables. “It's been a hard year, especially for charities,” said Kim Winzeler, the host organization's communication chair. In past years, so-called national tables have appeared in each market where the event takes place (Chicago, New York, and Los Angeles). This year, only Kravet Inc.'s table appeared in more than one market.

Chicago's environments ranged from Knoll by Goettsch Partners' officelike setting, replete with lipstick-stained mugs, computer monitors, and empty sushi containers, to the host organization's table, which communicated the healing cause with a plethora of red crosses. Other one-off decor schemes included Kehoe's old-Hollywood-style display, with feathers, tufted furniture, and gold accents, and a camping-trip-inspired table from Haworth by Harley Ellis Devereaux.

Though no two vignettes had much in common, some trends emerged. “Ethereal, white settings are big this year,” Winzeler noted. She also pointed out several instances of “statement lighting,” which included ornate chandeliers crowning tables. In a couple of displays, tables looked plucked from a farm, with pig drawings, fresh veggies, and haystacks playing into the decor. Butterflies appeared in a few vignettes, ranging from wall decorations to framed taxidermy specimens. Asian-inspired tables were also popular this year.

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