Hall of Fame: The Fame Game
"Snowman" by Erwin Hauer. Inductee Erwin Hauer and business partner Enrique Rosado.
I had the privilege last night of attending the 24th annual Hall of Fame awards dinner, presented by Interior Design magazine, and held at the Grand Ballroom of the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel. Hosting the festivities was editor-in-chief Cindy Allen, who welcomed the design community to town to celebrate achievement, and just to celebrate. Using her pulpit, if not her regular podium, to put the evening in perspective, Cindy pointed to the difficult times confronting our industry, and announced an ad hoc “coffee house” at ID headquarters—a sort of open door to provide encouragement and support to members of the design profession. Very much classic Cindy, and a good way to start the program.
Inductees this year included the engineer/architect team of Gwynn Pugh and Lawrence Scarpa; the designer Takashi Sugimoto of Super Potato; the architect/interior designer team of Steven Harris and Lucien Rees-Roberts; and 82-year old Erwin Hauer, who received a de-facto lifetime achievement award, as well as a couple of standing ovations.
Highlighting the evening was the awards ceremony itself, which featured the audio-visual wizardry of Marino Zullich in the form of four mini-documentaries. Marino, unfortunately, was unable to attend due to illness. Feel better, Marino!
A view of the Grand Ballroom at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel. Inductee Takashi Sugimoto of Super Potato.
The most complicated presentation was the one involving Takashi Sugimoto of Super Potato, who flew in from Japan for the event with a translator in tow, and who gave his acceptance speech dressed in a traditional kimono. Takashi’s introductory clip was the first under the magazine’s current regime to require subtitles. A designer of commercial spaces, Takashi balances a self-proclaimed need to push design vigorously forward in his work with an ingrained cultural reverence for tradition, history, and nature. Kitty Hawks, who was sitting next to me, pointed out that his projects looked distinctly Japanese. I agreed, noting that despite his immersion in modernist Western culture (particularly via a stint in Italy during the sixties), Takashi’s language literally remains unchanged.
The best anecdote of the night was told by Lawrence Scarpa, who worked for Paul Rudolph in New York City early in his career. A client of Rudolph’s requested a colonial-revival style house, an odd request obviously for anyone familiar with Rudolph’s work. Scarpa asked Rudolph if he intended to design such a residence. Rudolph said yes, and proceeded to design a Paul Rudolph house for the client. The client apparently loved the drawings, but asked Rudolph if it was indeed colonial revival. Rudolph assured him it was, and the client said “I’ll take it.” The humor, and the lesson, was lost on no one in the audience.
Cindy Allen with Jayne and Joan Michaels, and Lauren Rottet.
Closure for the evening was provided by the final inductee, Erwin Hauer. A pioneering, and arguably seminal, designer of organically sculptural architectural screens and walls, Hauer’s career in America was jump-started by a feature in Interior Design magazine in 1956. By the mid-sixties, however, his designs had fallen out of fashion and production had ceased. With the publication of a book by Princeton Architectural Press in 2004 (Erwin Hauer: Continua), and a collaboration with a former student, Enrique Rosado, that resulted in digitized production, Hauer’s modular screens are again being specified by architects and interior designers, and custom produced. Ten modules, in fact, were produced for the awards dinner, as was the large sculpture, “Snowman.” that stood on stage. In his acceptance speech, Hauer poignantly noted that with this honor from Interior Design magazine, his career has come full circle, and he concluded his remarks with a plea for more attention to the visual components of education. As a dutiful blogger, I was one of the last people to leave the ballroom. Still seated when I left, and clearly moved by the attention and recognition he was receiving, was Erwin Hauer.
All images by Larry Weinberg.