Dining By Design, in Style and for Charity


Two drag queens prepare to dine at the Candy Productions table.Photos: Lily Idov

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.

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, in Style and for Charity