Design Exchange Revamps Gala With Underground Dinner Party, Balloon-Popping Raffle

DX Intersection replaced the DX Black and White gala this year and drew a record 1,500 guests to the Design Exchange museum.
DX Intersection replaced the DX Black and White gala this year and drew a record 1,500 guests to the Design Exchange museum.
Photo: George Pimentel

In previous years, the Design Exchange has hosted the Black and White gala, but under new president Shauna Levy, this year's bash was remade as a bigger, edgier affair. Held Friday night, the new fund-raiser, known as DX Intersection, was part of the institution's push to attract a wider audience. 

“It’s all about offering exhibits with a broader public appeal,” said Levy. “Everything we did for DX Intersection is a manifestation of that.”

To match the museum's new style of broad-ranging exhibitions, DX Intersection touched on all the senses. There was a musical installation at the entrance, a food experience in the library, and visual art hanging overhead on the historic trading floor inside the Bay Street site. Levy presented the first-ever DX Intersection Award to designer, artist, and author Douglas Coupland, whom she said personified intersection with his multidisciplinary talents.

With these changes also came a less formal feel to the gala. For the first time, organizers scrapped the V.I.P. sit-down dinner in favour of a lounge and passed-plate format at 6:30 p.m. “We wanted to make it more fun and interactive,” said Gillian Hoff, vice president of special events at the Design Exchange. “It’s a totally different feeling.”

For the general event, which began at 8 p.m., guests danced to high-energy DJs like Skratch Bastid and Keys N Krates on the trading floor. The silent auction area had a nightclub look with blue lighting and a long bar. As an added component of fun, models sold balloons that, when popped, contained numbers that corresponded to prizes. The new vibe seemed to pay off, attracting a record 1,500 guests this year as compared to last year's 1,000.

As guests arrived, a lucky few were invited to an underground dinner party in the museum’s new event space, the Library. Staffers at the entrance chose people at random based on directives like “guests wearing red” and “guests wearing glasses.” There were five seatings of 30 guests throughout the night.

Chef Matty Matheson of Parts and Labour created an exclusive four-course menu in the intimate space, with menu items served in custom-made trays from design firm Tongtong. Castor Design assembled a distilling apparatus and created cocktails with fresh herb and fruit essences.

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