This year marks a major milestone anniversary for five design firms and organizations. Read on for memorable moments throughout the companies’ histories and a look at how each of them spent this special year.
Early McMillen Inc. work
McMillen Inc.—90 Years
“For McMillen’s 90th anniversary, we are honored that the New York School of Interior Design launched McMillen Inc.: Nine Decades of Interior Design, a wonderful retrospective exhibition. The show runs through Friday, December 5. Next year will also see the publication of a new McMillen book, which we are very excited about, with Acanthus Press.”—Ann Pyne, President of McMillen Inc.
Anne Pyne, Betty Sherrill and Elizabeth Pyne
McMillen Inc. was founded in 1924 by Eleanor Stockstrom McMillen Brown, who began her business selling 18th century furniture and decorative objects out of her New York City townhouse. Since then, highlights of the company’s history, according to Pyne, include McMillen's Miniature Rooms exhibition, ‘Interiors of Tomorrow,’ which toured the country between 1932 and 1935 to great acclaim; an exhibition entitled ‘Paris 52,’ which in 1952 displayed the work of young French designers of the post-war era; decorating a house for Mr. and Mrs. Henry Ford II in the mid-1950s in Grosse Pointe, Michigan, which was fully furnished with museum-quality French furniture and art; decorating for U.S. presidents, including President and Mrs. Lyndon Johnson; the publication of Sixty Years of Interior Design: The World of McMillen in 1982; and, in recent years, the development of McMillen Plus, which caters to a younger clientele.
The Rockwell Group—30 Years
“Our studio has hosted a series of events that highlight our varied interests, such as architecture, restaurants, theater, and pro-bono work. We also happen to share a 30th with Design Industries Foundation Fighting AIDS (DIFFA), a non-profit that I’ve been very lucky to have been involved with for many years. So we kicked off our anniversary by hosting a fundraiser for DIFFA in May at NeueHouse, a private membership workspace collective that our studio designed. Additionally, our second monograph, What If...?, will be published by Metropolis Books. The book explores our studio’s sense of play and possibility—an endless curiosity that drives us to ask ourselves questions like, ‘What if an architect could be as experimental as a chef?’ and to dream up architectural responses to them.”—David Rockwell, Founder of The Rockwell Group
When asked what was one of his most memorable moments in the firm’s history, Rockwell looked back on the first commercial project he worked on—a restaurant in New York City.
Restaurant by The Rockwell Group
“My first restaurant project was Sushi Zen in New York,” he shared. “The total budget was around $300,000, which is half the cost of kitchen equipment alone in a restaurant today. The budget was so small that I had to convince an opera costume designer to work with me on a fabric mural that we installed along the length of the space. I even had to borrow money to complete the installation myself. Sushi Zen represents the start of my obsession with creating memorable restaurant spaces—an obsession that remains with me to this day.”
“I’ve been fortunate to work with an extremely talented group of creative thinkers and with clients who appreciate our passion for innovation, so I hope we continue have the opportunity to invent new project types and reimagining existing ones,” Rockwell concluded.
DIFFA's Picnic by Design
Design Industry Fighting Aids (DIFFA)—30 Years
“DIFFA kicked off its 30th anniversary year with DINING BY DESIGN at Pier 94 in March, highlighting the best in design and creativity while shining a light on the continued urgency and work in the fight against HIV/AIDS. In May, Rockwell Group and DIFFA held a joint 30th anniversary celebration featuring a panel discussion on the role of the creative community in the early days of the AIDS crisis. Other events included Picnic by Design in August and Thanks for Giving in November, as well as events with partners such as West Out East in East Hampton.”—Johanna Osburn, Executive Director of DIFFA.
Since its founding in 1984, DIFFA has granted more than $40 million to AIDS service organizations across the United States. Mobilizing the vast resources of the design industries, DIFFA has supported a broad spectrum of programs over the years, from HIV/AIDS care and treatment to education and prevention. DIFFA has been at the forefront, funding early initiatives including condom distribution and needle exchange programs, and has taken an active role in supporting programs aimed at protecting the legal rights and security of people living with HIV/AIDS.
DIFFA's Picnic by Design
“We are very proud to have been the first to grant monies to two now venerable institutions, amfAR and God’s Love We Deliver, when they were just getting off the ground. Countless other organizations were early grantees and we are humbled that our early investments made an impact on their efforts and sobered by the reality that their work is still not done,” said Osburn.
“Our greatest hope for the future is for a cure and an end to this epidemic. Until that day comes, we will continue to harness the vast resources and creativity of the design industries to help us support organizations that are fighting day-in and day-out. We will still support organizations that serve and advocate for those living with HIV/AIDS and educate those at risk of becoming infected,” Osburn concluded.
Forty-One Madison Building
Forty-One Madison—40 Years
“As it happens, we ordinarily host an industry party during the October Tabletop Market Show—but this year the 40th occasion was definitely celebrated in a big way.”—Laurie Burns, Senior Vice President and Director, Forty-One Madison
In 1999, Rudin Management officially registered/trademarked The New York Tabletop Market and The New York Tabletop Show—interchangeable names for this twice a year (spring and fall) four-day gathering. Then in 2003, the retail landscape was forever reshaped by the consolidation of Federated Department Stores under the Macy's banner. “This impacted our industry tremendously,” said Burns.
Waterford showroom at Forty-One Madison
Forty-One Madison experienced a seismic change in 2008 with the changing of the guard as the building's original director, Carole Dixon, retired after 30 years at the helm. It was under her watch that Forty-One became the No. 1 address for tabletop. Her successor, Burns, faced a daunting challenge because just as she began her tenure the stock market took a nosedive. It was a period when many brands merged, but the core brands remained at Forty-One.
Modernism Week bus tour
Modernism Week—10 Years
“In celebration of Modernism Week’s 10th anniversary (Feb. 12-22) we are announcing the creation of CAMP (Community and Meeting Place), the new central hub of activity during the 10-day event. Located on Palm Canyon Drive at the gateway to the Uptown Design District in Palm Springs, CAMP will be the MW headquarters for tours and events. CAMP will feature designer hospitality and lounge spaces; a café with specialty cuisine and cocktails; curated pop-ups and image galleries; a social media coffee bar; and live music and DJs. The festivities are open to the public (admission: $30) for all 10 days. CAMP is a place where Modernism Week revelers can connect, relax in the Palm Springs sun while enjoying a bite to eat between tours and parties, and enjoy all-things-modern during the world’s most exciting architecture and design festival.”—Lisa Smith, Executive Director of Modernism Week
Each February, Modernism Week features tours of restored midcentury modern homes in Palm Springs, talks by world-renowned architects and designers, ground-breaking symposia, and the incorporation of vintage music, fashion, cars and travel trailers into the event.
“This February, we are highlighting the ‘best of the best’ from our tours and events over the past decade,” Smith said. “One particular fan-favorite tour each year is Frank Sinatra’s Twin Palms Estate, designed by E. Stewart Williams in 1947. It is one of the most sensitively restored historic residential properties in Palm Springs and has an amazing history.”
Frank Sinatra's Twin Palms Estate
Plans for the future? “Expanding our student programs, which currently include free tours, lectures and films during the February event; and the scholarship program that awards local high school students with a four-year financial support for their studies in the fields of architecture and design,” said Smith.
“We are also aiming to expand into year-round programming beyond our current festivals in October and February,” she continued. “We would like to offer tours and programs on a regular basis to expand cultural tourism and educate the public about the unique architectural heritage of the Palm Springs area.”
Stay tuned for more anniversary stories which will feature manufacturers and retailers also celebrating this year.
Have an anniversary coming up in 2015? Drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org and let us know!
Related Stories: Five design publications celebrate anniversaries, Happy anniversary to these eight design companies
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