FIT Honors Tony Chi with the 2015 Lawrence Israel Prize

The Interior Design Department at the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) has named Tony Chi, of tonychi and associates, the 2015 recipient of the Lawrence Israel Prize. The prize, endowed by architect Lawrence J. Israel, has been given annually since 1998 to an individual or firm whose ideas and work enrich FIT Interior Design students’ course of study. Each year, the award recipients are invited to give a public talk at FIT.

Chi, one of the world’s top restaurant designers, who studied Interior Design at FIT, will discuss his work in a talk entitled “Invisible Design,” on Thursday, April 23 at 6 pm in the Katie Murphy Amphitheatre at FIT, Seventh Avenue at 27 Street. The event is free and open to the public, with no reservations required.

In Chinese philosophy, “chi” is the circulating life energy inherent in all things; in traditional Chinese medicine, it represents the balance of negative and positive in the body, essential for good health. In his work and his life, Chi strives for balance.

Savvy, well-heeled tourists visiting Kuala Lumpur, Geneva, or Singapore, or a foodie in just about any of the world’s great cities, have likely savored the Chi aesthetic. He earned his Interior Design degree in 1979, and has created some of the loveliest and most luxurious restaurant interiors around the globe, including Spoon by Alain Ducasse in Hong Kong, Namu in Seoul, and Asiate in the TimeWarner Center in New York. His work has won recognition from such organizations as the James Beard Foundation, the Gold Key Awards, and Esquire and Interior Design magazines.

“You can’t have a warm feeling without a cool element, the yin and yang,” Chi has said. “You can’t have roughness without smoothness.” Chi is a populist who caters to an elite clientele, a globetrotter who walks to work from his home on Central Park West.

Chi understands that design without functionality is hollow and functionality without people who care to utilize it defeats the purpose. He does not merely deliver aesthetics; he delivers an experience. “Any designer can create a dazzling body,” he said, “but I want to create spaces that have a chance at building a soul.”

Past Lawrence Israel Prize honorees are:

2014    LOT-EK
2013    Roman and Williams
2012    Diller Scofidio + Renfro
2011    David Rockwell
2010    Lewis.Tsurumaki.Lewis
2009    Gaetano Pesce
2008    AvroKO
2007    Lindy Roy
2006    Jamie Drake
2005    Adam D. Tihany
2004    Bromley-Caldari
2003    Vicente Wolf
2002    Billie Tsien
2001    Clodagh
2000    Margo Grant Walsh, Gensler
1999    John F. Saladino
1998    Charles Gwathmey

Event Details:

Date: Thursday, April 23, 2015
Time: 6:00 pm
Location: FIT’s Katie Murphy Amphitheatre (enter through the Fred P. Pomerantz Art and Design Center, northwest corner of West 27 Street and Seventh Avenue)
Free and Open to the Public

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