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IAD Students Create Innovative Installation for DIFFA Fundraiser

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Pictured (L-R): Michael Berge’, Moegi Hara and Hairi Chen. Photo by Bob Toy.

On the evening of November 16, music pulsated and a strobe light bathed the walls of a spacious event room at the W Hotel San Francisco in a swirling sea of neon purple, blue and pink. The fun nightclub-like setting was the site of a fundraiser for an organization with a serious mission, the San Francisco chapter of Design Industries Foundation Fighting AIDS (DIFFA). Proceeds from the event support UCSF’s HIV Clinic Ward 86 at the Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital.

Guests clad in cocktail attire sipped drinks, enjoyed appetizers and bid on a variety of items, such as fine wines and art, in a silent auction. Later, the distinguished Luetkemeyer sisters—Emmy-winning actor Julie Bowen of Modern Family; Dr. Annie Luetkemeyer, a physician at UCSF Ward 86; and Molly Luetkemeyer, founder of M Design Interiors—emceed a live auction.

Before partaking in the main room festivities, party guests passed a striking interactive installation created by three Academy of Art University School of Interior Architecture and Design (IAD) students: Michael Berge, Hairi Chen and Moegi Hara. Called World of Color, the piece stopped many people in their tracks. It also meshed with the Connections theme of this year’s DIFFA event, which focused on the ties all of us have to others who are dealing with, or have dealt with, AIDS/HIV.  

World of Color consisted of a large, rectangular aluminum map with round holes punched into it to depict the shapes of different continents.  A poster next to the piece explained the idea behind the installation. Similar to the way the individual colors of a rainbow blend together, the students wrote, humans are also connected no matter how different we are or where we live.

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Photo by Bob Toy.

A second poster beside a table with red note paper and pens invited people to write a loving message to or about someone, roll it up, and place it somewhere in the world by inserting it into one of the holes. Guests were also encouraged to grab a random message from the map before leaving the party.

“Our concept is meant to remind everybody that AIDs is not just a San Francisco issue,” said Berge, who, along with Hara, serves as co-president of the Academy’s student Interior Architecture and Design Club. “It’s worldwide.”

He and the other students started working on the project—and an additional piece that greeted party guests as they exited the elevators and arrived in the lobby of the second floor where the fundraiser was held—at the beginning of the semester. Ernest Mariotto, an IAD instructor, provided them with guidance as needed.

“We started off with brainstorming sessions and then came here so I could show them the space,” he explained. “The students did the floorplan. We had regular meetings for the first few weeks to keep on top of things. After we finalized the concept, the students ordered all the materials, fabricated the piece and did all of the physical work.”

For Chen, helping with the map and seeing the end result was the most rewarding part of the project. Hara said assembling the map was a challenging but worthwhile endeavor that required her to be on site from early morning on the day of the event. She also enjoyed working with her teammates and exchanging ideas that eventually resulted in a great concept for DIFFA.

“I also … liked how we processed the actual map using the latest technology,” she added. “And I really love seeing how people interact with the map.”