The Boston Architectural College hosted the 4th annual Gala Preview Party for AD 20/21: Art & Design of the 20th and 21st Centuries to benefit the College. On Thursday, April 7, 2011, approximately 600 guests attended the event at the Cyclorama at the Boston Center for the Arts to show their support for the BAC and to preview this year's collection of modern art and design at the annual show produced by Tony Fusco and Robert Four.
The AD20/21 Gala Preview Party is The Boston Architectural College's premier fundraising event of the year and has been an important opportunity for the College to raise funds that ultimately enhance student experience and allow the College to continue to educate the finest emerging design professionals. This year's event was an elegant affair, surrounded by an extraordinary variety of modern art and design that honored guests Massimo and Lella Vignelli.
Guests included architects, decorative arts and interior design specialists, landscape architects, museum curators, furniture dealers, builders, developers and real estate professionals, collectors, artists, bankers, fashionistas, and photographers as well as BAC trustees, overseers, faculty, and the next generation of collectors—BAC students.
Massimo and Lella were awarded the AD 20/21 Lifetime Achievement Award, sponsored by Knoll. The Vignellis, who are recognized as two of the most innovative minds in the design world, have designed countless graphic and corporate identity programs and exhibitions, as well as interior, furniture, and consumer products. Massimo complimented the city of Boston, recognizing the changed urban landscape, in brief remarks upon receiving the award, with his professional partner and wife offering, "a good city is the most important sign of a civilized environment."
During the weekend, the Cyclorama lecture hall was filled to capacity. Massimo Vignelli, with constant reference to Lella, presented a visually powerful, intellectually elegant talk on the timeless work of Vignelli Associates. The legendary designer shared his determination that it is the responsibility of the designer to discover and challenge problems and ultimately to enrich our environments with creative intuition and critical thought. The work shown was beautiful evidence of their remarkable, collaborative partnership. Massimo noted that his first exhibition in the United States, design:Vignelli, was installed at the (then) Boston Architectural Center in 1976. He concluded by sharing his educational vision: the rigorous reflection and discourse of Modernism, which forms a bridge between the history of design and the Vignelli design tradition, with intention to conserve, research, and extend this cultural heritage and, at the same time, investigate current design issues.
Jane Thompson's lecture on Saturday, "Design Research: The Store That Brought Modern Living to American Homes," was presented with her co-author Alexandra Lange, architecture and design critic, journalist, and historian. As founding editor of I.D. magazine, Jane was recognized as a critical voice in design, providing a strong female perspective in a predominantly male profession. With her husband Ben Thompson, she pioneered urban revitalization projects that include Faneuil Hall Marketplace in Boston, the Chicago Navy Pier, and New York's Grand Central District and collaborated for two decades on Design Research (DR), the pioneering store that brought modern European design into the American home. Jane explained that Ben "set out to solve very human and local post-war problems" and presented the unique and influential aesthetic that was well-understood by designers in practice in Europe, brought to America through DR. Jane emphasized that Ben's care for the interior as much as for the exterior, based on innate taste, was formed by architectural and visual training and an understanding of materials and forms and construction, and it was the product of training to become an architect and knowing how to put up a building or city.
Sunday lectures included "Saving Mid-Century Modern Homes," moderated by Boston Home Editor Rachel Slade and including panelists Peter McMahon, Cape Cod Modern House Trust; Historic preservation expert David Fixler of EYP, and Sally Zimmerman, manager of Historic Preservation Services at Historic New England. Also on Sunday, "Designers' Salon: Emerging Design in Boston" was a roundtable moderated by Debbie Hagan, editor in chief of Art New England, with modern sculptor and furniture designer Jacob Kulin, couture designer Michael DePaulo, jewelry designer Brelyn Spindel, and milliner Marie Galvin.
Tom Veilleux Gallery of Portland, Maine featured rare works by the noted American modernist sculptor Elie Nadelman (1882–1946) Also among the vast array of fine art, furniture, and decorative arts was a 1917 oil on canvas by Max Weber (1881–1961) from the estate of the artist, shown by Martha Richardson Fine Art, Boston; a selection of rare Schneider and Le Verre Francais art glass offered by La Verrerie d'Art, Maryland; a set of six 1969 Butterfly Chairs by Arne Jacobson offered by DSCALE, Boston; contemporary furniture by Sebastian Carpenter and Paula Garbarino; and whimsical paintings by Anne Lyman Bowers (b. 1922) offered by Childs Gallery, Boston.