Untitled (Swimmer), a photograph printed on canvas created by Thomas Heiser for the event, playing off its theme of “shine”
Untitled (Swimmer), a photograph printed on canvas created by Thomas Heiser for the event, playing off its theme of “shine”

DIFFA DESIGNS 2016 presented by DIFFA San Francisco is a party not to be missed. On Wednesday, October 12, the San Francisco chapter of DIFFA: Design Industries Foundation Fighting AIDS will bring together shining stars from the world of interior design, architecture, fashion, industrial design, and visual arts to offer a glittering showcase and silent auction of unique, exclusive, and one-of-a-kind objects and exciting experiences.

The event benefits DIFFA, one of the largest providers of funding to HIV/AIDS service and education programs in the U.S., and UCSF Positive Health Program at Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital (SFGH) and Trauma Center. Ward 86 at SFGH was the first HIV/AIDS-specialized clinic to open its doors to patients, and quickly became an international leader in care and research. It provides primary care, offers vital support services, and administers dozens of clinical trials, among its other services.

Attendees can expect live entertainment, live art, wines and cocktails, hors d’oeuvres, as well as works from top designers and design studios, such as Herman Miller, Gensler, Marmol Radziner, Julie Turner, and Sherry Williamson, among many others.

The event will take place at THE NWBLK, an applied arts gallery in San Francisco’s Mission Gulch, from 6–9 p.m. Tickets are $125 (purchased between September 15 and October 11) or $150 (purchased on October 12, the day of the event).

A&U spoke to DIFFA volunteer Julie Blakenship, a curator and visual artist who has exhibited her work internationally. She is the former Executive Director of Visual Aid in San Francisco.

A&U: Why did you decide to volunteer at this DIFFA chapter?
Julie Blankenship: I decided to volunteer for DIFFA SF because I’m passionate about supporting Ward 86 at San Francisco General Hospital, the first HIV/AIDS-specialized clinic, and an international leader in testing, care, and research. They evolved a standard of care that addressed the whole needs of patient wellbeing: medical, social, psychological and often economic. Among their many firsts were non-traditional definitions of family and next of kin, social support groups, and transitional housing programs. DIFFA SF is part of an ongoing response to the HIV/AIDS epidemic by the art and design communities in San Francisco.

What makes a DIFFA event different than other events? What can attendees expect if they have never gone to a DIFFA event?
DIFFA DESIGNS celebrates the worlds of design and the creative spirit. Attendees can expect a festive party with an urban vibe, camaraderie, and community.

This year’s silent auction features unique culinary, entertainment and wellness experiences plus twenty-five one-of-a-kind, limited edition or new-to-market objects of design desire—from the wonderful and whimsical to the wacky. At what other event can attendees see and bid on a “flicker of hope,” a “The Disco-Tech Jukebox,” or “The Bejeweled Banana”?

Our suggested attire is either “business fabulous,” or in a nod to this year’s theme, “creative shine + sparkle.” So attendees can express their own creativity, sartorially.

What are the most pressing needs of people living with HIV/AIDS in SF, particularly those who use the services at Ward 86?
Ward 86 provides state-of-the-art primary care to more than 3,000 patients in San Francisco, many of whom are uninsured. The funds raised through DIFFA DESIGNS enables immediate basic services like bus fare, so patients can make their appointments.

For more information and to purchase tickets, log on to: www.diffasf.org. For general information about DIFFA, log on to: www.diffa.org. For more information about the UCSF Positive Health Program. visit: https://hiv.ucsf.edu.

Reporting by Chael Needle. Follow Chael on Twitter @ChaelNeedle.