Blog Post: 20 Ways DINING BY DESIGN Has Made A DIFFArence

DIFFA: Design Industries Foundation Fighting AIDS

Now one of the design industry’s largest and most anticipated fundraisers to fight against HIV/AIDS, DIFFA’s DINING BY DESIGN originated in Kansas City, MO in 1990. Originally conceived as a dinner and musical fundraising event, DINING BY DESIGN gained popularity and the focus gravitated toward uniquely designed tabletops. DIFFA chapters across the country began to put their own spin on the event locally.

In celebration of its 20th Anniversary, here are 20 highlights from DINING BY DESIGN New York:

  1. DINING BY DESIGN was introduced to New York City in 1997. This year DIFFA National will celebrate the 20th Annual DINING BY DESIGN New York, a signature event that has greatly contributed to its ability to grant $42 million in funds to HIV/AIDS organizations nationwide.
  2. DINING BY DESIGN New York has grown into a 5-day event with more than 2,000 people at its two fundraisers—Cocktails By Design and the Gala Dinner. It combines extravagant design and renowned designers and brands to raise funds and awareness for DIFFA’s grant-making efforts.
  3. Since its debut, DINING BY DESIGN New York alone has raised over $13 million in grant funding to support organizations fighting HIV/AIDS across the country.
  4. DINING BY DESIGN is a tangible representation of DIFFA’s founding mission to bring together the design community to give back and make a difference.
  5. The 19th Annual DINING BY DESIGN raised nearly 1 million dollars toward granting funds to 26 DIFFA grantees across the country—the largest group to date.
  6. Over the years, hundreds of designers, manufacturers, architects and brands have donated time, talent and resources toward designing one-of-a-kind dining experiences that raise awareness and generate conversation about the cause.
  7. Recognizing the importance of raising money to fight this disease, celebrities including Whoopi Goldberg, Cyndi Lauper, Katie Holmes and Martha Stewart, and models such as Naomi Campbell, Maggie Rizer and Cindy Crawford have supported DIFFA at DINING BY DESIGN.
  8. Leading brands and designers from the world of fashion have leant their expertise to create tables over the years, including Versace, Levi’s, Vivienne Tam, Jason Wu and Tracy Reese.
  9. Fashion brands such as Ralph Lauren, Calvin Klein and Nautica have embraced DINING BY DESIGN as an opportunity to showcase home collections throughout the years.
  10. The first years of the event in New York showcased dozens of tables at the Metropolitan Pavilion, including designers and brands like Zac Posen, Kate Spade, Calvin Klein, Elle Décor, Clodagh, Bromley-Caldari and David Rockwell, who went on to become Chair of DIFFA’s Board.
  11. DINING BY DESIGN has moved a few times to iconic New York venues such as Hammerstein Ballroom, The Waterfront (Tunnel) and Skylight Studios.
  12. In 2009, the Architectural Digest Design Show welcomed DINING BY DESIGN to be co-located at Pier 94, providing tens of thousands of guests with the latest products and trends and a way to give back to DIFFA through their attendance. A portion of the proceeds of all AD Design Show ticket sales benefits DIFFA.
  13. The Student Design Initiative, which has been supported by the Donghia Foundation and Benjamin Moore, was developed in 2008 as a way to provide HIV education and history to an emerging group of designers.
  14. Teams of students from New York’s top design programs have participated in creating their own dining installations that weave in the cause, receiving mentorship from a leading designer in their field of study.
  15. Guests at Cocktails By Design are treated to bites from some of New York’s favorite restaurants at tasting tables!
  16. DINING BY DESIGN is consistently ranked in the top 100 events by Biz Bash for integrating design and fundraising.
  17. DIFFA’s DINING BY DESIGN was dubbed by filmmaker John Waters as the “Cannes of Tabletop.”
  18. Hit show Million Dollar Contractor featured the creation of a DINING BY DESIGN installation in 2013.
  19. DIFFA’s shopping “emporium” was integrated for several years at DINING BY DESIGN and featured an array of pop-up shops to support DIFFA.
  20. This year’s event is on track to be one of our highest grossing ever. We hope you join at Cocktails by Design, the Gala or by participating in our silent auction online.  More information is available at or