Smoke up with Bjarke Ingels and take a dip with Charles Renfro as one-off experiences go under the hammer

Smoke up with Bjarke Ingels and take a dip with Charles Renfro as one-off experiences go under the hammer

Ever wanted to take a dip, smoke up, break bread or go on a birdwatching expedition with your favourite architect, artist or designer? If any of these were on your bucket list now is your chance to cross them off. From 6 until 20 May, the Van Alen Institute is hosting an online auction featuring a host of adventurous ‘experiences’ with the likes of Charles Renfro, Bjarke Ingels, Yabu Pushelberg and more.

The offerings include a chance to pick the brains of Airbnb co-founder Joe Gebbia on a Pacific coast hike, peruse through graphic designer Irma Boom’s vast collection of handmade books and a wander around the Tadao Ando-designed Pulitzer Arts Foundation with Emily Pulitzer. Lauded landscape designer Piet Oudolf, meanwhile, will offer a rare tour of his private gardens and self-described ‘dream landscape’ in Hummelo, Netherlands, followed by drinks at his local haunt, the nearly 400-year-old Gouden Karper.

Elsewhere, one lucky bidder (and five of their guests) will wine and dine with design duo George Yabu and Glenn Pushelberg at the striking Manhattan home they created for themselves in a Richard Meier-designed tower, while another will get to talk buildings and birds with architect Jeanne Gang in one of Chicago or New York’s iconic urban parks.

For the more intrepid, there’s a chance to join Bjarke Ingels and partner Jakob Lange as they test their self built smoke ring generator for BIG’s new waste-to-energy power plant at the Amager Resource Center in Copenhagen. And if you really feel like getting intimate on your blind design date, there’s a hot tub roundtable with architect Charles Renfro of superfirm Diller Scofidio + Renfro on offer, hosted at his mid-century modernist house on Fire Island - cocktails included.

The auction marks the Van Alen Institute’s annual Spring Party in Lower Manhattan, which this year includes a seated dinner and performances by My Midnight Heart, DJ David Pacho and Brooklyn-based dystopian funk super group LÁ-BAS. Proceeds from the sale will help fund the Van Alen Institute’s inventive cross-disciplinary research, design competitions and public programmes. Now that’s a bidding war that’s priceless.

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