Deborah Marton, Yeohlee Teng, Cindy Allen, Andrea Woodner, Allison Kavey, Elisabeth Streb
Hopping through long sweeping rails of elegant gala attire dipped in Chanel No. 5, we found our way to the grand salon of The Waldorf Astoria, where the 30th Anniversary of Interior Design’s legendary Hall of Fame celebration was soon to begin.
The exquisite ballroom, seasonally decorated with festive arches of sparkling ornaments hanging down from two stories of bulging balconies that circled around like a ruffle gown jumped out of a fairy tale, was packed with 1,300 designers, architects, and industry leaders.
Everyone was gathered on this cozy early December evening to honor the mind-blowing geniuses of design inducted into Interior Design’s prestigious Hall of Fame including our very own incredible Andrea Woodner, founder and board president of the Design Trust for Public Space.
The night started with the grand entrée of Interior Design editor-in-chief Cindy Allen. Her motto was “everything times 30” alluding to the 30th anniversary, of course. Nothing could suit more the night’s larger than life ambiance!
Cindy introduced one by one the extraordinary talents who had dedicated a lifetime to design excellence: Hagy Belzberg of Belzberg Architects, David Lake and Ted Flato of Lake|Flato, and Paola Navone. Each inductee was accompanied by an inspiring video interview.
Andrea was kept for last to receive the well-deserved special leadership award. It was to honor and celebrate a phenomenal leadership that oversaw an almost two decades of incomparable urban design innovation in NYC.
Developed under Andrea’s impeccable vision, Design Trust’s projects jumpstarted the High Line’s conversions from derelict railway to a green corridor of open space, activated innovation for the first custom-built Taxi of Tomorrow, and developed the sustainability guidelines that became the precursor to NYC’s Local Law and PlaNYC.
Following on Andrea’s footsteps, Design Trust for Public Space has honed a game-changing approach. We embrace public-private partnerships, and a future-focused, bottom-up inclusive methodology.
At the night, Andrea reflected on building the Design Trust for Public Space:
“Thank you Cindy! Cindy, you're truly our guiding light and I even don’t think it's enough to say I love you times thirty: it feels more like I love you times three hundred!
To say it's an honor to stand in this brilliant company is such an understatement: it's truly humbling to think of all of you in this room who are The Design Luminaries; whose work has come to define design excellence.
In my interview with Cindy she asked me if there was ever a time when I worried that the Design Trust might fail. Of course I loved that question, but my answer was in truth I could hardly believe it was real enough to be truly believed by others.
This is what happens when you spend your life working on a concept that embodies a set of ideas. The building of it is metaphorical: You don't break ground. In the end you can’t walk into it, photograph it, buy it or sell it. But the hope is, of course, that it will change how people think and talk about design, maybe even how we look at things.
How do you do this? You talk to a lot of very smart people, and encourage them to talk with each other. That in a nutshell is all I've ever done.
Which is why, when I acknowledge the people I want to thank, it’s not because they have helped, it’s because the Design Trust truly is their creation – it is the work of a huge Design Trust constituency that is being recognized tonight. It extends from fashion designers to composting experts to sanitation anthropologists.
But it begins with the one-and-only Claire Weisz, the co-founder and 'sine qua non' of the Design Trust’s trajectory. Founding board member Ted Berger, our sage is here. Deborah Marton, our brilliant ex-Director is now leading Bette Midler’s wonderful New York Restoration Project (NYRP), that I'm proud to support.
Founding board member Deborah Berke and former board member Kitty Hawks and current board member Zack McKown are all here, and all three are ID Hall of Famers! They are all intrinsic to the Design Trust’s DNA.
Cindy, you too are a big part of this, chairing our annual benefit – we have so much fun together! Of course leading the way now is our own brilliant Susan Chin and her amazing team, working on establishing the Design Trust as a nationally recognized model for urban transformation. Susan, it’s in your hands now!
And, if I may, a special word of thanks to my beautiful wife Allison Kavey, here tonight, who knows more about alchemy than anyone I know.
All these contributing voices over our almost twenty years have done a lot, I think, to change the discourse from a time when public space was left to the bureaucrats and high design was all about object making. That has undeniably changed, and for the good.
Today’s 'lingua Franca' is all about the public realm and shared space, and collaborative design. Have we made New York a better place? I honestly and privately wonder.
We all know there is only so much design can do, and design is bound to erase what it replaces.
The poetry of the old abandoned high line. Street life on the really wild side. Remember the do-it-yourself quality of appropriated spaces? The weedy little lots and the grand derelict canal street lofts inhabited by the last of the heroic painters dancers and sculptors?
Could it be that some things, like some gifted or eccentric people, are better off left alone? Well, you and I know that will never happen: we designers believe in improvement, development and, well, in building.
That’s why, thank God for people like Cindy, who understands so well the power of nuance, subtlety, of honesty and the deft response.
I think I’m just now finally beginning to understand the meaning of the wonderful phrase of the novelist Delmore Schwarz: In Dreams Begin Responsibilities. That is the thought I’d like to leave you with tonight.
Design Trust for Public Space turns 20 in 2015! As we embark on our next 20 years, the world population continues to climb exponentially and needs quality public space in cities. Design Trust believes shared open space is the heart of the city. We will continue to ensure that it remains a priority for NYC’s decision-makers.
The 30th Anniversary of Interior Design’s Hall of Fame Awards was truly a spectacle touched by the magic of the magnificent Cindy Allen. Thank you Cindy! We love you times 300, as Andrea says!
My definition of 'public' is anything you don’t need a key to get into.