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Scharff Weisberg Supports Colorful National Design Awards Gala At The Cooper-Hewitt Museum

Scharff Weisberg Supports Colorful National Design Awards Gala At The Cooper-Hewitt Museum

CooperScharff Weisberg worked closely with the Cooper-Hewitt Museum to bring colorful, innovative scenic elements from David Stark Design & Production to life with audio, lighting and video support for the 2008 National Design Awards gala on October 23. The glittering evening, which took place in a tent connected to the museum, numbered New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg, Dennis Hopper, Lauren Zalaznick and Martha Stewart among its guests.

The gala's rainbow-hued decor included multicolored tables haphazardly stacked with dishes and cups and vibrant installations hanging from the ceiling, which were reminiscent of the Mad Hatter's Tea Party in "Alice in Wonderland." The stage backdrop included a tiled wall of seat cushions in the guise of a technicolor Table of the Elements.

"Scharff Weisberg was a delight to work with," reports Jeannie Kim, National Design Awards manager for the Cooper-Hewitt. "Guy Bostian, Tony Rossello and the entire team were universally intuitive, creative and professional in every regard."

The tent's walls were hung with black drapery, which cut down on ambient light and shadows and helped Stark's visual elements pop and add energy to the space.

"All of the large centerpieces, hanging elements and sculptures were lit from at least two directions with complementary color tones and breakup gobos to bring out the color in the room, add dimension and bring a good view to every seat in the house," explains lighting designer Todd Gardner.

Scharff Weisberg hung 100 pinspots to accent smaller table decor and centerpieces as well as some of the hanging elements. VARI*LITE VL3500s layered a textured wash of polka dots across the entire tent and played off scenic elements. The stage was lit with conventional ETC Source 4s for video; the tiled seat cushions were uplit with Color Kinetics Colorblaze 72s, which were programmed and cued to highlight the inherent spectrum of colors of the cushion sculpture.

The walls of the canopied walkway from the museum to the gala tent were washed with Colorblast 12s programmed to slowly undulate spectral colors from one end to the other. Guests were greeted by an enormous milk-crate sculpture spelling out N.D.A and positioned in front of a white backdrop lit in deep blue with Colorblazes and a complementary fuschia from a ground row of Colorblazes in front.

"Scharff Weisberg's inventory of LED fixtures was perfect for the gala because they offered ultimate flexibility in color choice, effects and low-power consumption which is always important for events in tents," notes Gardner. "They also conveniently fit the 'green' sensibility of the event's sustainable decor by David Stark."

In designing the layout of the light placement it was important to stay within some major constraints imposed by the tent structure and weight-load limits, he adds. "We also had to pay close attention to getting the focus angles of all the scenic elements and the stage through the hanging installations themselves," he points out. "The placement of scenic elements was scrutinized in 3D CAD files to ensure that projectors could hit their screens and lights could focus on all of the elements."

Scharff Weisberg also furnished six custom 16:9 screens, measuring 5x9 feet, along with Barco R6 projectors, a pair of Sony DVCAM cameras and video playback from Grass Valley Turbos. Switching was performed by a Barco Encore and small controller.

Scharff Weisberg's audio complement for the gala and the after party hosted by guest DJ Cosmo Baker included a Meyer sound system, Midas console and 12 channels of wireless mics.

Prior to the gala Scharff Weisberg supported two additional events at the Cooper-Hewitt as part of National Design Week.

On October 20, more than 400 high-school students and 50 teachers participated in the Teen Design Fair to learn about careers in design from 45 professional designers and design colleges nationwide. Students engaged in roundtable discussions with designers such as Tom Kundig, Liz Lange, David Rubin, Scott Stowell, Ayse Birsel, Dror Benshetrit, and Nancy Thiel. The keynote address was delivered by Tim Gunn, co-host of "Project Runway" and "Tim Gunn's Guide to Style."

The next day, Michael Bierut, 2008 winner of the Design Mind Award, moderated a discussion about the state of contemporary design with this year's National Design Award winners: Ralph Rucci (Fashion); Tom Kundig (Architecture); Charles Harrison (Lifetime); Scott Stowell (Communication); and Lucinda Sanders (Landscape). The event attracted nearly 350 design enthusiasts.

"The audio-visual services and lighting for the entire week of events related to National Design Week here at the museum far surpassed any other year, and we have been regaled with compliments about the gala from those being honored at the ceremony to staff who have been associated with the event for the past decade," notes Jeannie Kim. "Despite being new to the museum and, also, to National Design Week, Scharff Weisberg handled every situation with grace, producing a memorable week of events that looked and sounded seamless."

At Scharff Weisberg, Tony Rosello and Guy Bostian were the project managers and Terry Jackson was the Lighting Project Manager. Esteban Lima was the grandMA programmer and Gerard McCarthy was production electrician.

Scharff Weisberg and Video Applications, firms with extensive histories in the presentation and staging markets, recently announced a co-ownership agreement. While continuing to operate independently, the two companies work together strategically to provide clients with state-of-the-art audio, video and lighting equipment and services. With a strong presence on both coasts, Scharff Weisberg and Video Applications are able to deliver a large array of cost-effective services on a national level. For more information, call 212-582-2345 or visit our website at For more information on Video Applications, visit

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