If design isn't just about how great something looks but how magically it functions, last night's 2013 Innovation By Design Awards after-party was off the hook. With hundreds of the world's best designers crowded together in a renovated space in Soho, then plied with tequila in both liquid and gaseous forms, it was not an event to be missed.
Held amongst 14-foot ceilings, loft-style windows, brick archways, and 19th-century wrought-iron columns at 82 Mercer Street, the awards themselves were like a refreshing 20-minute breather between sessions of drinking, snacking, dancing, and designer hobnobbing. Presented by Fast Company editor, Robert Safian, and publisher, Christine Osekoski, the nine design awards in categories such as Transportation, Interactive, Concepts and more (you can see the complete list of winners here) were handed out quickly, all in the aims of not straining anyone's sobriety any longer than was absolutely necessary.
Thanks to sponsorship from Don Julio Tequila, many guests experienced the party as a swirl of Palomas and Manzanas. Don't like drinking? No problem. At the Innovation By Design Awards, you could smoke it instead, thanks to Le Whaf, a carafe that uses hydrodynamic cavitation to turn alcohol into an inhalable mist, which partygoers sucked up from test tubes.
Of course, what brought so many people from design-centric companies such as Nike, Google, FiftyThree, Wolff Olins, Jawbone, and Leap that night wasn't just the alcohol: There were plenty of opportunities to play around with some tech demos at the forefront of interactive design. Lorenz Potthast, the lanky, effortlessly charming creator of the Deceleration Helmet, beguiled party-goers, inviting them to experience the festivities in slow-motion by placing a gigantic mirrored ball—part diving helmet, part Daft Punk—over their heads. The Leap Motion was also available to play around with, allowing you to scatter schools of virtual fish with the glowing embers of your fingertips. These demonstrations were surreal enough that if you also happened to be sucking tequila mist out of a test tube, you might wonder whether someone had slipped a hallucinogenic tab of something into Le Whaf.
On opposing sides of the venue, street artists JerkFace and Lamour Supreme battled it out to create the best airbrushed mural on the theme "Why Is Good Design Good Business?" while Jorge Colombo, a 21st-century caricaturist, drew elaborate sketches of partygoers using just an iPad and his fingertip. The rhythms and beats of the night were provided by DJ Catchdubs, who—assisted by his mustachioed Hype Man—kept energy levels high and the party jamming into the late hours of the evening.
To sum it all up: Bauhaus meets bacchanalia. If you missed this year's Innovation By Design Awards, don't worry. The next one is just a year away.