Oh Boym! John Waters Presents National Design Award

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(Photos: UnBeige)

When we spotted the distinctive figure of John Waters among the cocktail crowd at last night’s Cooper-Hewitt National Design Awards gala, we knew we were in for a treat. The filmmaker, artist, writer, and subversive Baltimore native took to the votive candle-lined stage at Cipriani 42nd Street late in the evening. Having made quick work of their scrumptious chocolate soufflés with chantilly cream, guests were sipping coffee, grazing on petits fours, and growing antsy. Then Waters appeared.

In presenting the award for product design to Constantin and Laurene Boym of Boym Partners, he galanized the crowd with rat-a-tat praise for the design studio’s wildly successful Buildings of Disaster series, miniature replicas of famous structures where tragic or terrible events occurred—or as Waters described them, “scaled-down souvenirs of Hell.” He is an avid collector. “Whenever I need an idea for a new movie, I look over at the Boyms’ burning Waco compound miniature and feel a surge of creativity,” said Waters, who added that he often gives the Boyms’ Alma Tunnel (where Princess Diana met her untimely end) as a wedding gift. “The brides always write me the most glowing thank-you notes.”

Waters also singled out the Boyms’ 2008 Unabomber birdhouse, a sparrow-scaled version of Ted Kaczynski‘s Montana cabin. “It’s fully functional, whatever that means,” he said, eliciting a huge laugh from the audience. “Do the birds fly in and die? I don’t know. I keep mine on the mantel in my living room.”