(Credit: Holiday House)

Charity design concept Holiday House comes to London

A new showhome concept in London combines interior design inspiration with fundraising for cancer research. Emily Dawling visits the colourful collaboration.

The New York phenomenon Holiday House has arrived in London, with some interesting results.

Founded in 2008 by Iris Danker, interior designer and breast cancer survivor, the project is an open showhouse in which renowned interior designers and architects showcase their work and also raise money for the prevention and treatment of breast cancer.

Profits from ticket sales go towards The Breast Cancer Research Foundation, which was founded by Evelyn Lauder in 1993. Holiday House is raising funds that will be specifically granted to research programmes within the UK.  

Holiday House initially attracted talent in the design sector from across the US to transform the historic Academy Mansion on Manhattan’s Upper East Side differently every autumn. This year, Holiday House has reached its 10th year of showhouses, and, in celebration, the masterpiece has travelled across the pond.

Two London townhouses in St John’s Wood, near the famous Abbey Road crossing, have been transformed into a magical and quirky dream dwelling – each room has a unique character and displays the flair of each designer who has worked on the project.

Interior designers who have taken part in the project include Beth Clancy, Amelia Carter, Justin Van Breda, Sophie Patterson and Susan White.

I did not hesitate to participate – Philippe Maidenberg

French architect Philippe Maidenberg has collaborated with furniture company Roche Bobois to create the Dreamers Lounge: an attic room they transformed within Holiday House. Maidenberg spoke to BBC Designed about why he decided to be part of the project. 

After attending Holiday House NYC in 2015, Maidenberg “was impressed and appreciated an event where designers use their creativity and talent to benefit such an important cause. I am based in Paris, so when I heard that Holiday House would take place in London for the first time, I did not hesitate to participate.”

Best in show

Entering the Maidenberg’s space, there is immediately a stark contrast to the other rooms in the house. Abstract features fill the space, such as angular the “small triangle shaped mirrors that create a three-dimensional effect” on the ceiling, as well as a giant harp-like instrument running from the floor to the mirrored ceiling, “each string diffusing a sound by the slightest touch of the hand.”

Maidenberg describes how music heavily inspired his creation, and how he developed his ideas with Roger Hodgson, the co-founder and vocalist of the band Supertramp.

We want teenagers to know that they are in control of their destiny. Their bedroom is their sanctuary, the one place they can be totally themselves - Simone Suss

The flooring represents a musical sound wave, which “spreads throughout the room, as an allusion to the propagation of the sound,” he says. On some parts of the waves, the lyrics of Roger Hodgson’s songs Dreamer, Give A Little Bit, "he Logical Song, are hand-written.

Simone Suss, founder and director of contemporary interior company Studio Suss, spoke to BBC Designed about the design of the firm’s perfectly pink Teenage Dream bedroom. “We want teenagers to know that they are in control of their destiny and that they should be aware of breast cancer. Their bedroom is their sanctuary, the one place they can be totally themselves: a place to dream and be alone.”

Interior designer Hazel Collins commandeered one of the bathrooms in Holiday House. Her creation includes a silver and pink, bird-filled wallpaper, a circular mirror with lighting and, vibrant flowers.

Collins says she developed the design scheme “to create a bright, healing and positive environment to support the fight against breast cancer.”

“The main colour palette consists of soft, feminine pale pink-grey, soothing muted green and lively sprinkles of gold, as well as l bright patterns to generate a fun, uplifting atmosphere. Organic and curved shapes are introduced to mimic resilience and a restorative power in nature.”

Holiday House is available to view until 10 December.

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