Always a Feast for the Eyes: DIFFA’s Dining by Design



DIFFA’s (Design Industry Foundation Fighting AIDS) Dining by Design returned to the Galleria at the San Francisco Design Center for the 11thyear. Once again the most exciting dining environments in town drew support for the Positive Health Program of the UCSF AIDS Research Institute. The event also marked the 30thanniversary of the first formal report of the AIDS virus, and although no cure has been found, local supporters commemorated the milestones in research and treatments since.

2011 DIFFA Gary Hutton

Gary Hutton for the San Francisco Design Center

2011 DIFFA Kravet


2011 DIFFA Aaron Silverstein

Aaron Silverstein for Carla Emil and Rich Silverstein

2011 DIFFA Mondo

Mondo Guerra in collaboration with interior design students from San Francisco State University for Merck’s Living Positive by Design

Event co-chairs were the acclaimed interior and furniture designer Gary Hutton and Interior Design Hall of Fame member Ronette King of Gensler who each designed highly contemporary settings. Joining them were Bay Area and national talents from the fields of architecture, landscape, interior, and furniture design, as well as event planning and fashion. They conjured up fabulous vignettes that ranged from modern and minimal to traditional, whimsical and highly detailed.

New York fashion designer Tracy Reese took inspiration from her 2011 Fall collection in her installation for Effen Vodka, and Denver-based designer Mondo Guerra, who can currently be seen on “Project Runway All-Stars, collaborated with interior design students from San Francisco State University. Together they created a community table called “Phoenix”, which was inspired by Mondo’s emotional journey since his public acknowledgment of being HIV-positive, as well as his experience with the Living Positive By Design campaign with the pharmaceutical giant Merck.

Another successful student collaboration returned this year: the School of Interior Architecture at the Academy of Art University with the leadership of Ernie Mariotto created a minimal and high contrast concept inspired by love. Their table “one heART” perfectly represented the essence of Dining by Design.

Rhonette King and Gary Hutton

Room Service for 7×7 and California Home + Design

Samantha Duvall and Carolyn Chandler

Paul Benson
2011 DIFFA Hartmann Studios

Hartmann Studios

Melanie Coddington, Candace Barnes, Spencer Moran

Gene Ogden and Marta Benson
Tracy Reese

Tracy Reese for Effen Vodka

Chris Dale, Kathryn Lovell, Sarah Bashford, Lang McHardy(Photo: Andrea Narins)

Lauren Shelby, Athena Charis and Diane Nicolson for IFDA

The two-night event started out with the Table Hop & Taste preview, followed by the Gala Dinner the next evening. The first night was a cocktail party sponsored by Effen Vodka and catered by a number of San Francisco’s finest restaurants and chefs, including 25 Lusk, Fifth Floor, Bisou, Limon and Chef Tyler Stone. More then 700 guests were dazzled by the over-the-top table installations while enjoying special cocktails and delectable bites.

In attendance were Scott Heldfond, Holly Baxter, Carolyn Chandler, Samantha Duvall, Andre de Baubigny, Andrew Lam, Marta Benson, restaurateur Bob Puccini, chef James Stolich, interior designers Melanie Coddington, Michael Friedes, Dining by Design alumni Candace Barnes, Steven Miller, Brian Dittmar, David Hansen, Barbara Ashfield, Jay Jeffers, Paul Benson and Lawanna Endonino. They were joined by antique dealer Eric Petsinger and accessory designer Jennifer Bennet and hundreds of other design aficionados.

2011 DIFFA Alexandra Torr

Alexandra Torre

Michael Purdy and Jay Jeffers

Michael Friedes, Jennifer Bennet, Halley Box, Kimber Frankel

Academy of Art University

At the Gala Dinner guests previewed the tables during the cocktail reception while eagerly awaiting dinner served by Taste Catering in San Francisco’s most unique dining environments. Among them were Rita Moreno, Tim Wu, Wilkes Bashford, Dr. Diane Havlir, Dr. C. Bradley Hare, Barbara Waldman, Dennis L. Winger,Tim and Carol Treadway, Rue Magazine’s co-founder Crystal Gentilello, as well as interior designers Irene Turner, Scot Meacham Wood, Antonio Martins, Gino Castano, and Stuart Gilchrist. I had the pleasure of being a guest at the Academy of Art University’s table, and I treasure the Zen heart bell I received as a token to remember the evening.

Guests dining at the table of 7×7 and California Home + Design (Photo: Adri Krisnadi)

Guests dining at the table of Gensler (Photo: Adri Krisnadi)

Guests dining at the table of Alexandra Torre (Photo: Adri Krisnadi)

Applegate Tran Interiors for Climb Real Estate
chris lim

Chris Lim
Rita Moreno.jpg

Tim Wu, Chanda Seymour, Rita Moreno and friend (Photo: Andrea Narins)

Eric Murphy, Annie Su, Tim Wu

J. Hettinger Design for Barbara Waldman and Dennis Winger

Beryl Sosnick, Wilkes Bashford, Louise Spinelli

Aldea and Lab Experiment
Crystal Mondo Claudia.jpg

Crystal Gentilello, Mondo Guerra, Claudia Juestel

Randy Shields and Peggy Bellar

Brian Dittmar and Dr. Paul Silvestre
Anu Paul

Anu Paul Design for Friends of SFDC
Agustin Sanders Andrew Boepple Irene Turner

Agustin Sanders, Andrew Boepple, Irene Turner (Photo: Adri Krisnadi)

Scot Meacham Wood and Rhonda Hirata

John Whitmarsh for Drs. Diane Havlir, Art Martinez, and Brad Hare

Ravi Arora, Anu Arora, Greg McIntyre, Steve Coulter

Shades of Green Landscape Architecture

Dining by Design has no jury and very little creative restrictions. As a result the unusual implementation of materials and objects captivates guests each year. Hostesses and avid entertainers, chefs and gourmets, house wives and house husbands, design professionals and enthusiasts all marvel at the details each table so exquisitely displays. Applegate Tran had rubber duckies floating in the center of the table, Bashford & Dale mixed flowers with lab glass, Kathleen Monroe floated fighting fish in large goblets, Mikki Bourne used vintage collars and bowties for place mats.

Custom table with rubber ducky pool by Applegate Tran Interiors

Centerpieces by Bashford & Dale Interiors

Kathleen Monroe

Detail of table by Kathleen Monroe with Stitch

Mikki Bourne

Place settings by Mikki Bourne with Stitch

Place setting by Shades of Green Landscape Architecture

Place setting with pomegranates by Hartmann Studios

Coconut bowl with shells at IFDA

Succulent centerpiece by John Whitmarsh

Dog mask at Aldea and Lab Experiment

Bowls, plates, goblets, chairs and table designed by Aaron Silverstein

Preparation for the next Dining by Design in San Francisco are in high gear, and organizers are already starting to take reservations from sponsors for the most coveted table locations. For more please visit DIFFA San Francisco.