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Smart USA Celebrates Earth Day With Carbon-Neutral Party

Smart USA aimed to leave more of an impression on guests than on the environment with its carbon-neutral Earth Day party.

By Michael O'Connell April 24, 2008, 4:07 PM EDT

Smart USA's 2008 Smart Fortwo launch party
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Some 250 people showed up at West 25th Street’s Pace Wildenstein gallery on Tuesday to celebrate the American debut of Smart USA’s Smart Fortwo (pronounced “for two"—the car seats only two people). Keeping with the sentiment of Earth Day and the ecologically conscious company, Smart’s partners at Harrison & Shriftman made it a carbon-neutral occasion, and guests could inspect the vehicles (made almost entirely of recyclable parts) under the shade of a tree that, from the entryway, looked as if it were sprouting from a car itself.

Harrison & Shriftman creative director Ryan Jordan was adamant about using a gallery. Pace Wildenstein does not host many outside events, but the venue has two rooms, which allowed one space for the heart of the party and another for guests interested in taking a closer look at the cars.

Smart USA was also keen to use a white palate akin to the environment of Apple stores. Jordan took that blank slate and integrated the car's three key aspects (color, capacity, and eco-friendliness) into the night. “All of our colors used in the projections, the signs, and the plexi tables are the same six colors that the car is available in,” he said. “Since the Smart Fortwo is a two-seater, we’ve also emphasized pairs in the decor with the [two-seat] seating arrangements.”

The more obvious component was tying the cars to Earth Day by making the night carbon-neutral. Harrison & Shriftman hired a carbon-neutral company to audit the event and find out how much money the organizers needed to contribute to offset any harm. And details like the biodegradable gift bags, the seats upholstered with recycled cotton, and the seed paper invitations (which can be planted) were intended to instill a sense of responsibility in the guests.

Pace Wildenstein’s in-house caterer, Sonnier & Castle, passed plates of chilled lobster salad on brioche, and crispy panko crab cakes were served atop beds of wasabi peas and breadcrumbs.

The party capped off a day of test-drives for editors interested in giving the tiny vehicles a spin around Chelsea, but all of the Smart Fortwos on site remained stationary during the evening, sparing the guests the difficult choice between a joyride or the open bar.

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