The design cognoscenti came together at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London last week for a very special dinner to raise money for The Design Fund to Benefit the V&A: the museum's new resource for contemporary acquisitions. Held in the Hinze Sculpture Galleries, this was the second soirée for the fund, following the inaugural campaign that raised £100,000 from the patrons this time last year.
Before getting down to the business of dinner, guests enjoyed drinks and canapés amid last year's acquisitions, which were beautifully displayed in the Cast Courts. Nestled among the gallery's sculptures were works by Wallpaper* Design Award-winner Nendo, BCXSY, Fredrikson Stallard and Satyendra Pakhalé, which showed just how well the initial funds have been spent.
Among the guests were architects Amanda Levete and John Pawson; designers Tom Dixon and Frederikson Stallard; and curators-cum-festival directors, Marianne Goebl of Design Miami, Patrick Perrin of PAD, and Ben Evans of the London Design Festival. Although unable to attend, Zaha Hadid's presence was felt thanks to some rather clever napkin holders she designed specially for the even, supported by Phillips de Pury & Company.
The fund founder Yana Peel co-hosted the dinner with V&A director Martin Roth and Wallpaper* Design Awards judge Simon de Pury, who all enthused about creating a permanent legacy for the leading British collection of contemporary design.
The Design Fund is the result of Peel's tireless efforts over the past ten years to bring funding to the public. She used to run the Outset Contemporary Art Fund (a similar model to the design fund), which she set up after leaving Goldman Sachs in 2002. Peel has worked with a variety of art institutions but saw the need to extend her fund-raising prowess to design. 'I realised last year that we needed a moment that brought the design community together. The point is to bring together design enthusiasts, collectors and patrons, and to give contemporary design funding to the V&A. We raised £100,000 in total last year - the biggest donation the V&A has ever received for acquisitions.'
Peel, who co-founded debating forum Intelligence Squared Asia, says the response from last week's dinner has been great, and they will discover in a couple of weeks if they have beaten last year's target. She will then present a cheque to the V&A and the committee, overseen by its curators Christopher Wilk, and Jana Scholze, who together will decide what they will acquire. The only criteria is that the pieces meet the museum's needs and are by designers living and/or working in Britain. New acquisitions will be exhibited at the V&A during London Design Festival in September.