HughE Dillon: Daroff Holiday Bash

Karen Daroff and James Rappoport host more than 100 at their Wissahickon Park home

Saturday night I headed over to the annual holiday party of interior designer Karen Daroff, president of Daroff Design, and architect James Rappoport, of DDI Architects (and VP of Daroff Design) at the couple’s beautiful home, “Parks Edge,” which is a unique house set in Wissahickon Park. Nestled on the side of a hill, the house was designed by James; Karen designed the interior.

In addition to her fabulous residence, Karen is also responsible for many of the beautiful interiors in our city, such as the Marriott, the Rittenhouse, the Comcast Building, and the Loews Hotel, which Karen tells me she is just about to give an updated look. The firm’s work is not limited to Philly; she’s done the interior of Disney’s Contemporary Hotel, and recently the Beijingyuan Hotel, in China. Below: Bruce Looloian, AVP of real estate development at Amtrak, Rina Cutler, deputy mayor for transportation and public utilities (who was named 2011 Public Works Leader of the Year by Penton’s American City and County magazine), and Mickey Rowley, principal, Tower Management Solutions. Mickey and Karen met when he hired her to re-do the Embassy Hotel in 1994, where Mickey was GM.

Guests mingled throughout the open-floor-plan house, with the Daroff signature sleek, modern furniture and beautiful works of art on the walls. Spotted in the crowd were Ray Lawrence, Dr. Sofia Lam and Michael Lam, Nancy Glass, Paul and Khushi Bagga, Paul and Wendy Rosen, Dianne Semingson, Senator Craig Lewis, Sharon Pinkenson and Joe Weiss, Lisa Roberts, and Derrick Pitts.

Below: Carol Lawrence, senior VP at PNC, Marciarose Shestack, and fine artist Barbara Tiffany. Marciarose is media royalty and a trailblazer as the first woman anchor in primetime in a major media market. She exudes such class and grace, and it must have been such a difficult road to travel in the male-dominated field back in the ’60s and ’70s. Barbara, who paints classically realistic images, also designs furniture with her husband Bob, who was also at the party.

Below: Carl and Karen Buchholz. If her job at Comcast doesn’t work out, I see another career in wrapping gifts for Karen as she tells me she prepared this package herself.

Congratulations are in order for both Bob Lane and Randi Zemsky on their recent marriage. Stephanie Stahl, CBS 3 medical specialist/reporter and TV host, was recently inducted into the Broadcast Pioneers’ Hall of Fame. Stephanie’s husband is Jim Trichon, president and CEO at CloudTech Sensors.

Ed Rendell stopped by, and I got to congratulate him on the news that he is going to be a grandfather come June. He told me he was really happy and ready to take on the new title. Karen was excited to see the former governor as they are longtime friends. Rina Cutler, who is originally from Boston, told me that the reason she’s in Philly is because when Rendell was mayor, he wanted her to work in his administration. She told him then, “I can’t work in a city that has a baseball team that doesn’t play on grass.” He told her that Philadelphia was building a new stadium with a grass field. She accepted the job and never looked back.

Below: Chris DiGeorge and Heather Lee, who have recently formed the Lee DiGeorge law firm, and Robin Switzenbaum, Berger Montague, and Sam Switzenbaum, real estate developer, Switzenbaum & Associates.

Below: Paul Rathblott and wife Carol Saline. Carol tells me she met Karen Daroff in 1970s when she wrote an article on Karen for Philadelphia magazine on “Hot Young Designers.” Looking on is Linda Knox, wife of former mayoral candidate Tom Knox. The last time I saw them was at a cocktail party at their home supporting world-renowned artist Nelson Shanks, who has his Studio Incamminati right here in Philly. Linda is vice-president, and she tells me that Shanks just returned from a successful run of his work in Russia.

Below: Helping to plan and execute the party were Alana Okun and Oona Walsh, Karen’s right and left hands, who did an excellent job, as did my new best friend Judy “Stemmy” Easterling. The caterer for the evening was Global Dish Caterers, owned by Mitch Prensky of Supper on South Street. The delicious menu offered duck, Chilean sea bass, broccoli rabe, polenta and salad. Prensky is also working with Mike Welsh at Franklin Mortgage on a new restaurant in Fairmount called Lemon Hill. He said the menu would be just as delicious as Supper, but more easy pub fare. I’m looking forward to the patty melt when the place opens in a few weeks.

Below: Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown and Carol Tamburino. Carol tells me she’s almost done with her holiday shopping because she does it throughout the year as she sees things that people on her list would enjoy. By the smiles on everyone’s faces at the end of the night, I know two people who are not going to get coal in their stocking this year: Karen Daroff and James Rappoport. This was a most enjoyable party, with delicious food and good company.