Just An Online Minute... Hearst Designers Envision Claustrophobia At The Setai Fifth Avenue

Hearst Magazines' Designer Visions Opening Night, The Setai Fifth Avenue, New York
October 14, 2010

Bizzi & Partners developed The Setai Fifth Avenue, a towering glass structure on 36th and 5th where, at the top, the views are bigger than breathtaking.  Hearst Magazines got together with Bizzi & Partners, rounded up interior designers from House Beautiful, Town&Country, and Veranda, and styled residences reflecting "Cinema Style," channeling "Something's Gotta Give," "Six Degrees of Separation," and "Wall Street." But if you ask me, what they really channeled was "Towering Inferno" -- and my working-titled memoir-to-Lifetime-Movie "People Quagmire."

There was a line.  I knew this wasn't going to be good.  I had flashbacks to the BlogHER Martha Stewart chicken coop fest and my skin began to crawl.   Lining up were dark luxurious suits low-talking with this year's trenches.  The duo behind me seemed to think they could make the line go faster if they crawled up my back and molested me in the rear with their bags.  I hope they enjoyed it.  Why were these people so anxious to get in? It's just some bloody fancy decorated apartments, they weren't giving away golden-egg-laying geese.  "I was hoping to stop by on my way out... I planned to catch the 7:50 train... do we think that's going to happen? Haw haw hawwww" chortled the woman behind me. 

The line ahead of me moved.  I did not move fast enough, as tall man from the rear-molesting duo lurched forward, blorping the back of my head with his coat, which he carried over his hands like an old school muff.  He was at least six feet tall, so his arms were directly at the back of my  head.  I considered leaving.  Event beginnings like this are never good.  Ever.

But I stuck with it.

The line moved quickly, yet dazzling duo behind me kept grunting about how horrible slow and horribly organized it was.  "We're not press, are we?" the man asked as we all approached the tables.  "We're guests."  Wouldn't you know? Identifying yourself seems like the easiest part of the night to me.

We were herded onto the elevators to the 58th floor, where the doors opened to a skinny hallway already thick with people.  I found my way to the dark Town&Country room.  So dark.  So warm.  So tiny.  In the center was a spread of cylindrical meats, gooey spreads, and a moist loaf of gray.  It was so quiet I could hear people chewing inside their mouths.  Did I mention it was hot? And they weren't even at capacity.

I squeezed my way out, no doubt molesting someone with my bag this time. But I think that was the theme; no one's rears went unscathed last night.  I made it to the Veranda room, and on my way there, I took a look down the hall and saw that the House Beautiful room already had a line and people were unloading from the elevators into new gaggles of people trying to get on.  Heart palpitations.

Honestly, I don't even remember the Veranda room because sweat was dripping into my eyes and my brain was boiling with "HOW DO I GET OUTTA HERE!?" fear.  I blindly clawed my way out and ran to the elevator, where people were already piling up for escape.  I hit that down button furiously, no doubt being sneered at by whoever had already hit it 80 times.  The elevator door opened and at least 12 more people piled out.  "Is this... the beginning?" an ominous voice uttered incredulously as they disembarked.

In we piled.  One more person said, "Is there room for me?" and another woman in the elevator said aloud what my insides were feeling, "NO! I can't take any more people! It's too close!"  The entire ride down to the 11th floor, where cocktails and an open space beckoned, she muttered about fire marshals and fire codes and too many people.  Ordinarily I would retell the story later of a crazy person in the elevator, but if she was crazy, so was I.

We poured out onto the 11th floor like books falling from a stacked locker.  I practically ran to the outside patio, gasping for fresh air, chewing it as it entered my mouth and nasal passages and a maniacal giggle-cackle of relief escaped.  We had survived! Put us all on Oprah!

The bar only served Avion tequila, Prosecco, and water.  Which means I should have hung around for the next hour or so to catch people medicating their claustrophobia away and then dancing nude on the pool table... 

Before I hightailed it out of there I met Lewis Burke Frumkes, who is a bit of a Renaissance man.  He's a writer, he has his own radio show, and he runs The Writing Center at Hunter College.  Frumkas let me know that The Writing Center is a cultural center that puts on all kinds of panels and events for the school and community to attend, including an upcoming panel with author Mary Higgins Clark.

I also met Caitlin Fazio of Bizzi & Partners and Suzen Heeley, an interior designer.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to go meditate, because reliving this event has caused my heart rate to elevate.

Photos are up on Flickr!

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