This year’s WestEdge Design Fair in Santa Monica, CA, kicked off with an opening night party that included more than just cocktails and hors d’oeuvres. The festive evening also hosted an auction of 15 one-of-a-kind Knoll Bertoia chairs, with the proceeds benefiting Safe Place for Youth (SPY). The organization’s mission is to inspire, nurture and empower the resilient human spirit of homeless youth by providing immediate and lasting solutions.
►Healthcare on the Mind
A Different Design Fair
Founded in 2011, SPY was started by a group of volunteers and Founder/Executive Director Alison Hurst offering hot food, clothing and socks to homeless youth in Venice Beach from volunteers’ cars. Today, it now consists of a professional staff of 26 employees who rely on support from donors, volunteers and partner organizations like WestEdge.
In addition to youth engaged in SPY’s Healing Arts Program designing one of the Knoll chairs, four youth were also given the opportunity to staff the event.
“SPY was approached by the WestEdge Design Fair team about the auction and being the fair’s official charitable partner,” says Cody Metzger, SPY’s development officer. WestEdge, Knoll and LALA Magazine all partnered for the auction, titled “Take a Seat.”
The auction began at the fair’s opening night party Oct. 18 and ran throughout the weekend. Artists, architects and designers came together to create the 15 chairs-turned-art using Knoll’s iconic and recently reissued Bertoia Molded Shell chair as their canvas.
Left: Chairs turned art. Right: Take a Seat.
“All of the chairs were beautifully done, but a few standouts were the Ruben Rojas chair and Gensler LA’s project done in collaboration with SPY youth,” says Metzger. “Rather than modifying the Knoll Bertoia, Gensler used the chair as a platform to give voice to the very youth that SPY was serving. By sharing their stories, Gensler’s hope was that it would help us all understand and be inspired by the resilient human spirit of homeless youth.”
[When is Design Simply Eye Candy?]
Several youth members engaged in SPY’s Healing Arts Program also got to participate and design one of the chairs for the auction, which raised a total of $3,000 to support SPY’s mission.
Metzger explains that the money will help carry out a continuum of care that includes street outreach and engagement, low-barrier drop-in services, case management, health and wellness care, and education and employment services. In 2018, nearly 1,400 individual homeless and at-risk youth received support across the spectrum of SPY programs.
[3 Charitable News Stories in Design]
How to Get Involved
The success of SPY’s work relies heavily on community involvement. It has several volunteer programs and events year-round that serve as a way to learn, network and, most importantly, provide critical resources to homeless youth. SPY has three signature events annually, in addition to smaller events surrounding particular campaigns. Learn about 2019 events and how to participate (www.safeplaceforyouth.org).
► Daily Design News | Scandinavian Design Brings Simplicity to the States