Nearly 200 design professionals gathered on the rooftop atrium of the Scholastic Building in New York City last week for DIFFA’s annual summer soiree, Picnic by Design. Conceived by New York’s Young Professionals Council last year, the event aims to engage a new generation with DIFFA and its cause.
“Our vision was to create a fun summer event that exudes a casual elegance and celebrates design,” said committee member Yiannos Vrousgos of Input Creative Studio, who helped design the vignettes. “We were aiming to target a younger demographic and it was important for us to keep ticket costs low and bring in new designers to DIFFA. In past events only interior designers and architects have participated—for the picnic, we invited fashion designers, graphic designers, costume designers, product designer, set designers, stylists and photographers to participate, bringing a whole new audience to the event!”
Allen, who is the board chair of DIFFA, and Johanna Osburn, the executive director, spoke to the crowd about the cause and what DIFFA is doing to make a difference in educating its youth—the highest growing population of those contracting the disease—and how DIFFA is funding organizations who provide direct care for those living with HIV/AIDS.
“It is important for the design community to support one another and come together. DIFFA provides this outlet,” said Vrousgos. “Since DIFFA directly targets the design community, it is a chance for us to show how we can use our craft and creative problem-solving abilities to bring awareness to a cause. DIFFA's events all celebrate design and create an opportunity for us to focus on the positive side of fundraising.”
A lively cocktail party followed the dinner where more than 45 designers mingled with industry friends including Eric Cohler, Tyler Wisler, Marie Aiello, Laura Anderson Barbata, Mike Perry, Jerry Schwartz, Robyn Lea and many more.
Event sponsors and supporters included Starbucks, Lenovo, Robert Allen, Maya Romanoff, Dwell, Patron, La Crema, Stone Brewing Co., Input Creative Studio, Clark Gaynor Interiors, Corse Design Factory and Becky Yee Photography. Because of the generosity of the sponsors, there was little overhead and almost all proceeds came directly back to DIFFA.
In 2014, DIFFA will celebrate its 30th year as one of the largest funders of HIV/AIDS service and education programs in the United States. Since its founding, DIFFA has emerged from a grassroots organization into a national foundation with chapters in New York, Chicago, Dallas, San Francisco and Kansas City and community partners such as the Michigan AIDS Coalition in Detroit that, working together, have provided over $40 million to hundreds of HIV/ASID organizations nationwide.
Photo Credit: Becky Yee Photography & Video