The human chair of the event, David Rockwell, addressed the underwriter of his table so head-on one initially suspected a joke: He made guests eat directly off a line of GE stoves, under a twinkling, reflecting hood. When the diners settled down, the Rockwell table proved to be the most surreally stocked of the night: designers, B. Smith, the slightly befuddled Miss Universe, and a company exec valiantly steering the conversation back to the stove. “Of course, you can’t cook anything on these,” said Rockwell ruefully. “They don’t have a permit here. But you can do, like …” he fell silent for a second. “A cutting demonstration.” Oh, and the food? Let’s just say that the tables, at least, were impressive.
Dining By Design, an annual charity thingie that plops society types down to dine among phantasmagoric table settings, is a reliable showcase of ingenuity with a serious tranny undercurrent (John Waters did a table once; Amanda Lepore was a table once). This year, DBD’s tenth, there was a palpable sense of overdrive in the West Chelsea event space: Most table designers were piling on feathers, antlers, holograms, lenticulars, fruit hats, and drag queens with corporate-sponsored abandon. On the tamer end, Ralph Lauren erected a mosquito-netted gazebo. Disney’s table recalled, curiously, a boardroom. Nautica went with the oh-my-God-we’re-on-a-yacht theme. In a slight faux pas, the Cole&Garrett and Lexus tables used the exact same chairs.