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Designed to Benefit

It's here--a mammoth marketplace for lovers of high-end style and a fund-raiser to battle AIDS.


After three months of work, a group of interior designers is putting the final touches on 49 showcase rooms that will be open to the public beginning Thursday. The high-style rooms will be a centerpiece of the fifth annual Divine Design--a mammoth marketplace of upscale fashions, furnishings and interior design that runs through Tuesday at West Hollywood's Pacific Design Center.

Highlighted by a VIP opening reception today and a celebrity awards dinner Sunday, the multifaceted event has made its reputation as a haven for shoppers. All items are donated and priced for sale to the attending public at a considerable percentage below retail cost.

Funds raised from the event go to two organizations: Project Angel Food, which delivers hot meals to homebound men, women and children with AIDS; and DIFFA (Design Industries Foundation Fighting AIDS), which provides grants and funding to innovative direct-service AIDS organizations in Los Angeles.

The show takes many shapes. A 40,000-square-foot marketplace will offer designer labels, including Calvin Klein, Kenneth Cole, David Dart and Tommy Hilfiger. A home furnishings "flea market" will offer upscale furnishings and antiques.

Transforming the fifth floor of the center, at 8687 Melrose Ave., will be 49 showrooms from some top interior designers, including Charles Pollock, Craig Wright, Sally Sirkin Lewis for J. Robert Scott, Kerry Joyce and Jack Lowrance.

"There's a big public today that wants to see interior design," said Lowrance's brother, Mel Lowrance, co-chairman of this year's Divine Design with Stephen Stoner. "This is a great place for window shopping--the ideas are all here."

Interior designers have pulled out all the stops with their showcase "vignettes"--fantasy rooms that run the gamut from classical Greece to English cottage, high-style New York penthouse to the trendy retro '50s look. There's even a nursery.

Visitors not only can pick up decorating ideas from the model rooms, but also bid on the merchandise. Many accessories and pieces of furniture will be sold in a silent auction.

"This event is unique to Los Angeles--even though other cities have tried to imitate us--and we hope to hit 20,000 in attendance this year," Stoner said.

Last year's event raised more than $1 million to fight AIDS, and the sponsors hope to top that this year.


* Divine Design: Open to the public Thursday to Tuesday, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., except Sunday (10 a.m. to 4 p.m.). Tickets are $20 a day, $100 for the opening reception and a six-day pass, and $350 for the awards dinner / opening reception and six-day pass. Information: (310) 358-8000.

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