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September 18, 2013

Professional designers find practicality in Dining by Design’s displays

By Robert Guttersohn
C & G Staff Writer

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Displays from last year’s Dining by Design provide examples of the elaborate tablescapes that will be showcased during this year’s event Sept. 26-28 at the Federal Reserve Building in Detroit. Despite the elaborate designs, professionals say there are still practical elements of the displays that visitors can use in their own dining rooms.

If the fourth year of Dining by Design is anything like years past, the tablescapes on display will be extravagant.

Those attending the fundraising event, which runs from Sept. 26 through Sept. 28 at the Federal Reserve Building in Detroit, will no doubt be wowed by what this region’s interior designers come up with.

Designers of the 28 displays are charged with the task of stylishly making a table setting for 10 within a relatively small space. While the displays will be more elaborate than practical, two metro Detroit interior designers say there are some useful ideas to take away from Dining by Design that will not only brighten your eating area, but your entire home for regular use and for parties.

“I think the dining room, especially with the holidays coming up, can be the easiest place to spruce up your house,” said Charles Oglesby, an interior designer from Scott Shuptrine Interiors in Royal Oak.

He recommended that visitors to Dining by Design observe  how colors are layered and mixed.

“One of the main things you’ll see time and time again: The designers will mix patterns with the plates,” he said.

He said another common design trend will be the use of large centerpieces that, if used at a regular setting, would be unreasonable because you couldn’t see the person across the table.

For everyday use, Oglesby said you could replace it with something much smaller.

“Instead of a great big bouquet in the center, you can do small floral decorations down the center,” Oglesby said.

In addition to mixing color, he said you could repurpose other furniture in your home, like using an outdoor bench as an alternative to traditional dining chairs, or combining estate-sale finds to mix contemporary pieces with older styles.

“It’s a really economical way to update your design,” he said.

Anne Strickland, an award-winning interior designer who is setting up one of the 28 dining displays, said she likes to focus on lighting when entertaining.

When hosting a party, she incorporates lamps to soften the room’s ambiance.

“It feels a little more special, rather than having all the recessed lighting on all the way,” she said.

Strickland recommended placing lamps on the kitchen islands and the dining table, itself.

“Table lamps make the tablescape feel like a piece of furniture,” she said.

Dining by Design is part of the Designer Industries Foundation Fighting AIDS, an organization that has hosted several fundraisers since its inception in New York in the 1980s and that has grown to incorporate several events in cities across the country.

In Detroit, the money raised goes to the Michigan AIDS Coalition — an organization with the mission of preventing the spread of the disease.

Because Opportunity Detroit is underwriting much of the operational costs for this year’s event, Ann Duke, co-chairwoman for the fundraiser, predicted this year will be its most successful.

“This year, we are really poised to raise more money than ever,” Duke said.

This fundraiser will be spread over three nights, from 6-11 p.m. The first night, Sept. 26, is themed Cocktails by Design. Visitors will have a chance to try food from local restaurants, drink wine and cocktails, and view the various tablescapes. The tickets for that event are $100.

The second night will include the auctioning of 150 pieces of artwork by Michigan artists. The tickets for that night are $75.

On the third night, the tablescapes will be put to use as visitors are served gourmet dinners while seated at the various displays. Seating is limited for the third night, and tickets are $250.

For more information or to purchase tickets, visit www.michiganaidscoalition.org or call (248) 545-1435, ext. 105.

You can reach C & G Staff Writer Robert Guttersohn at rguttersohn@candgnews.com or at (586)218-5006.