Interior Design Showcase Holiday House Hits a 10-Year Milestone

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Pink just so happens to be the favorite color of Iris Dankner, an interior designer, breast cancer survivor and founder of Holiday House.

“I have always loved the color, even as a little girl,” says Dankner, while dressed in a blush-tone Jocelyn feather coat from Intermix. It was a mid-October evening and she was just getting ready for a cocktail party hosted by Filippo Arnaboldi, CEO of Frette, an Italian textile company. Held at a luxury condominium apartment in Midtown East, the occasion marked the celebration of Dankner’s book, Holiday House: Ten Years of Decorating for A Cure published by Pointed Leaf Press, which was released on October 31.

Backtrack to 1997 and Dankner was a living a life she assumed to be normal. That was, until she booked her first mammogram appointment at the age of 40 and discovered she had breast cancer. “The year after my diagnosis was physically overwhelming and emotionally intense, but with amazing doctors, and the strength and love of my husband, daughters, family and friends, I came out on the other side,” Dankner writes in the book’s introduction. “Early detection saved my life.”

Six months following her treatment, she walked the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure, which raises funds to support screening, education and treatment as well as research and scientific programs for breast cancer. She later joined the board of the organization, which fueled a desire to contribute more to the community. Then came the start of Holiday House in 2008.

For the past decade, Holiday House has been known as the ultimate showcase of unique interiors curated by top designers. It will return to the Academy Mansion on the Upper East Side with the Opening Night Gala on November 14 and be on view from November 15 to December 6. Those involved include design chairs Alexa Hampton and Thom Filicia, event chair Christopher Hyland and ASID Chairs Björn Björnson, Glenn Gissler and Kim Radovich. Proceeds will once again benefit the Breast Cancer Research Foundation (BCRF), founded by Evelyn H. Lauder. 

The idea of Holiday House combines Dankner’s longtime love for interior design and her motivation to help others. Growing up, she developed a passion for attending art classes, rearranging furniture and decorating. When it was time to decide on which college to attend, Dankner recalls the moment she was accepted into both Cornell University and Carnegie Mellon School of Art. “Everyone said I should go to Cornell and meet an Ivy League husband, but I was a little rebel at the time and chose Carnegie Mellon. That was the start of an amazing journey,” she says. “I don’t know what would have happened if I decided otherwise—it’s like the movie Sliding Doors. What I did know, is that I wanted to be my own person.”

Holiday House: Ten Years of Decorating for A Cure encapsulates the inspiration and process of how the showcase has become what it is today. Since its inception, it has expanded to the Hamptons on Long Island, Soho in downtown Manhattan, and most recently this fall, London, England. 

It takes a total of nine months to plan each Holiday House showcase. “Working with all the designers should be a reality show,” says Dankner. “If you’ve ever had work done in your home, you know what it is like to have a contractor and a team, so imagine that, with painters and electricians, all in one space. We usually have seven days for set up and everyone is yelling, tripping over, and helping each other. Through all of the craziness, tons of friendships and new connections are made.”

Going back to the topic of pink, the color represents a universal love for oneself and others: the cardinal aim of every project Dankner takes on. “I do believe strongly that everything happens for a reason,” she notes.

They say, when one door closes, another opens—to Dankner, those happened to be intricately designed double doors leading to Holiday House.


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