Stepping out of the elevators onto the 36th floor of New York’s Mandarin Oriental hotel on Wednesday night, it was immediately evident that we had arrived at the Museum of Arts and Design‘s Visionaries 2013 gala, which raised $1 million in funds to support the upcoming year’s programming. With cameras flashing all over the room—one noticeably deployed by the one and only Bill Cunningham of the New York Times—it felt more like a red carpet for the design community than a hotel space.
Women in stunning gowns glided around the foyer, champagne flutes in hand. Gentleman milled about, finding their seats. Tables were laden with silent auction items such as David Nosanchuk lighting fixtures, Issey Miyake bags, and Frank Stella plates. To add to the surplus of color, there was even the occasional fascinator bobbing above the crowd. Before long, Glenn Adamson, Nanette L. Laitman Director and master of ceremonies for the evening, called the guests into the dining room.
The stunning view overlooked Central Park, Columbus Circle, and of course the MAD Museum itself, designed by Allied Works Architecture. Adamson began the evening asking the audience, “What is a visionary?” Giving Aileen Osborn Webb, the founder of the museum, as an example, he quickly segued to the evening’s honorees. A group characterized by their dedication to craftsmanship, Adamson said, “Each of them has kept us mesmerized.” MAD Museum celebrated Wilfried Vancraen, CEO and founder of Materialise; artist Frank Stella; Rick Kinsel, executive director of the Vilcek Foundation; and David and Sybil Yurman, founders of David Yurman.
As the honorees took the stage, their speeches echoed similar themes: the importance of collaboration, the search for sustainability, bridging art and design. However, as Adamson closed out the ceremony, he summed up their remarks, “Craft is a way to bring the future into existence.” And these five people are undoubtedly bringing craft to new heights.