Wish You Were Here! At Holiday House NY 2014


In the rush of our lives,

Holiday House 2014

at the cusp of Winter’s deepening of our core strengths and dreams…

…I LOVE that NOW we must GATHER. Gather to light up, primp, anoint, tidy’up, re-imagine our spaces, make time for tete-a-tetes AND support those in need of healing through our good graces and good will.

New York Millions Jade Dressler

On one of the first freezing NYC nights, we gathered for the Holiday House NYC preview, the designer show house to benefit the Breast Cancer Research Foundation.

This was one of those evenings filled with the Creative + Good of old and new friends.

candles Holiday House

Flashback to Me, in The Dressing Room, with Intent, Desire and A Closet to Shop inpink dressing table

In our inner sanctums, our homes and souls, we gather, invent and practice our scout’s preparedness for the roles we desire to play for the journey we imagine. With much of that playing now shared in the public sphere, the private becomes even more sacred. When I go to imagine my dress for the evening or am moved to re-arrange a room, I am all feeling mode, like a weathervane, sensing the season. It’s an earthy anchor to begin from, in the noisy sea of the city.

So thus for the evening of November 19, the Holiday House Preview, my fall foliage, Flower-Power Pop-Art print, combat-ready, thick linen pants, stood for all the hard scrabble of leaves, trees and cold fronts. My chemise of icy, white snowflake sequins was for all the icey blanketing to come. Per cue, the famous fur hats came on out again. Here, a little mood mash-up so you get the flavor.

Fall Flower Power Jade Dressler

Holiday House outside 1

Usually, my anchor for most design events, is a laser focus on Things, the objects, the arrangements. Clues to moods and trends arising. AKA Soul Regenerating.

This time it was the People who captivated me. Beyond the gates of lights, inside the Academy Mansion at 63rd and Madison, the people were the treasures I discovered. The wide spectrum of designers who imagined these rooms (all themed to whatever holiday they chose)…and the party people of the architecture, art, design, fabrications, interiors industry, their own stories and scenes. Get a Clue, Life is a Big Mansion. It’s time to huddle and inspire each other!

designers on the stairs Holiday House

Like monarchs gathering we flitted over stark city concrete and steel to be transported and transformed. To open our brighter inside wings, to be inspired, to gape and to cheer each other on.

Gang Greetings Jade Dressler

It’s this kind of journey I saw in Holiday House’s rooms. The healing story behind founder, Iris Dankner‘s own 17-year triumph over breast cancer and her passion for design, her Holiday House 2014 is an homage to the nurturing of our female muses, the creative spirit and shared emotions.

The idea that beauty and design heal is no longer a flight of fancy. Now, star architects design cancer care centers and in our own environments,choosing the path of Nurture/Nature is a necessary one. Those discovery journeys, and postcards from my usual mash-up of LOVE of books, culture, design, film and nature inspired this post.

The house’s entryway was like slipping through a woodpecker’s front door:

Holiday House entry

Welcome! A woodpecker likes a feathered nest with Rich layers of Soft Ash Textures. Here Taylor Hannah Architects expertly mixed the spare, concentrated textures of the season as base with key warm notes, the fireplace, the brass servings and pale golden glass lights with a surprise anchor:

hieronymus bosch

A HUGE Hieronymous Bosch book, the only spot of color, was a perfect hint of what wild gatherings in holiday spots awaited beyond.

hieronymous bosch

Rooms were designed to celebrate real or imagined holidays, such as Mischief Night, holiday dinners for a hundred, or for holidays away from it all, to a grand salon evoking Miami Beach’s Art Basel at the top of the stairs, home of the bar and festivities. Let me take you with me on our way the THAT final destination.

Ladies first.

Ally Coulter in the Drawing Room with a Candlestick, and Vespa on a Roman Holiday.

Jade Dressler Roman Holiday

I was early to arrive to designer, Ally Coulter‘s mis-en-scene.

ally coulter holiday house

Amy Coulter Holiday House

A room perfectly pitched, the piano player sat politely, the Italianate painting gestured and the red Vespa stood ready. Lush, feminine, and sensual, clearly Coulter’s cinematic Hollywood roots allowed her to tap into the bigger emotion behind trapped Princess Audrey‘s madcap adventures.

I thought of the film’s Wall of Wishes as I watched Ally raise her own candle to open her room, an uncanny link to the Holiday House’s raison d’être. The film’s wall originally was for “ex-voto’s,” votive offerings to made to the saints in thanks for their divine intervention in sparing a loved one’s life.

candles Holiday House

Survivors in the Inner Courtyard with No Clothing. Just Smiles.

Ground level, inner courtyard. The bar downstairs was a white draped tented room, almost like an examining room, lined with photographs of “loved ones spared,”cancer-survivors shot by Francis Hill for his series, “Clothing Immaterial” in a room designed by Ally and Iris. Even Iris was portrayed here, making the inner core of the whole house one for celebrating triumph and the role of “Survivor” we all play in our various life scripts.

Iris Dankner

Amy Lau with Beaucoup Crystals in the Parlor as if in Versailles.

Next door, Amy Lau‘s room, in partnership to honor Baccarat‘s 250th year, is an homage to the Hall of Mirrors in Versailles, home to both the holiday celebration of le Dauphin‘s marriage to Marie Antoinette and today’s hordes of tourists on holiday.

Nicknamed Galerie des Glaces, the space does what Winter’s dark nights and icy mirrors do for a soul, giving rise to more insight. Here, in keeping “la mode abstract,” her sketch and design elements that birthed this reflection.

amy lau

Amy Lau Holiday House elements

About this time I was handed off to a bearded gent, who became my guide. Touring with PR pro and Sherpa Guide of the Moment, Andrew Joseph unfolded more and more mutual friends as we ascended to the top bar.

Caleb Anderson in his Room with a View, Conjuring Wisdom.

I met the bearded gent’s client, Caleb Anderson, the previous evening when he won an IFDA Rising Stars of Interior Design award. Caleb told me he isn’t a fan of portraits, yet this faded one I found online captures this sense of a shy legend in the making, as well as the theme of his room. His holiday was “Day Off: A Room of One’s Own.” (my title) After time at the bar, I spent the most “Gathering” time in this cave of delights, how telling is THAT?

CALEB Anderson

Caleb with MacKintosh chair, some kind of Louis desk (please correct me!)

Cale Anderson Holiday house 2

I spend a lot of time here in my “real life” and Caleb’s sacred space had everything I would order up from Room Service.
Books, art, chaise, dark, luminosity, refinement.

I drunk in all the room’s details.

Caleb Anderson holiday house

Blue thistles in an intriguing jar.  I loved these blue thistles, as I would also adorn a throne to the Art of the Soul with these thorny beauties. From reverence in legends of protection of sleeping soldiers (Scottish lore) to being loved food for bees and even, as some suggest, thistles harbor medicinal qualities against cancer, …these blue beauties punctuated the room’s theme. (Did I really write that? Oh groan. I need a holiday!)


Caught a sweet moment here where Caleb spoke of the immense support (woman as design Muse?) he receives from Sydney Pottinger, who works closely with him.

Caleb and Everything Girl
And below here, one of several delicate plants in among the literature.

Caleb Anderson detail

I love the play between the marble lion’s heads and the tiny plant-joy. So much care, beauty and sentiment in a small note.

Caleb Anderson 2 details

This man is carrying a gold basket on his back, perhaps to remind the gent on holiday what he is in hibernation from? Here’s to Soul Regenerating rooms!

Louis Navarrette, A Mischievous Man, in the Salon with Sailors and Miscreants.

Hey Sailor Jade Dressler

Maybe sometimes hanging with our inner muse sometimes gets a wee bit claustrophobic…and a gal can get to feeling mischievous. She decides to dress up, vamp up, go out, mass and mingle with the plenty of fishes in the sea.

On to designer, Louis Navarrette‘s Mischief Night room called “Hey Sailor!”

louis navarette room

The lighting was the star of the room, the tonal blues, silky indigos and poised taut furnishings, just a posse of sailors around The Chandelier from “gathered” objects, inspired by a shipwreck.

Louis Navarette
Here, Louis points out the various items one might find in a shipwreck. Propellors, a clammer, a few saws, chains an anchor and yes, even a sailor’s peg leg.

Louis Navarette

Louis with wine in front of another assemblage of Intrigue.

Chris Ware at Louis Navarette

Be still my heart. A Chris Ware book. One of my favorite artist’s book festooned with a tiny rosebud in an 18th century oil lamp.

Louis Navarrette 2

I felt positively Mermaid-ish floating on all these details. Loved the deep sea-blue, sparkle coral curtains. Just saying that there evokes waves of desire in me. I know, cheap date;-)

Beautiful Young Girl in the “Wedding Shoppe” With Dewy Cupcake Bits and A Smile.

Blue Girl

The beautiful young girl above is not a Bride, she’s a poseur, who sat in a surprise pop-up wedding salon designed by Iris Dankner, in homage to her daughter, bride-to-be, Danielle Dankner, as they’ve spent so much time in them recently. Just recruited for the evening, the young lady above was really delightful to chat with and she made the room come alive. Iris’ personal touches included “…a beautiful old photo of a bride. I loved the glam of the photo and the frame.”

Wedding room holiday house

More delicious touches included silvery Jimmy Choo shoes, videos, violets and sweets. The space was another poignant and personal note in the house marking another transforming step in a woman’s life.

Silver Jimmy Choos

Noelia Ibanez with Stars, Furs and Dreamy Foody Stories in The Kitchen 

gaggenau Maaemo Oslo

A kitchen is the soul of a home. In the first ever Kitchenette for the House, the stars gathered on the ceiling to make the tiny nest of the space expand, fit for a Queen. Designed by Noelia Ibanez, the space reminded me of a glam hotel rooms’ wet bar allowed to be amped up and magnified.

Noelia partnered with Gaggenau, a brand I am fond of for both design and their “essays on culture and lifestyle,” where the people, places and things spotlighted include supreme delectables, such as the above nested confection. Noelia’s expansion and breaking the rules of how a kitchen should look is in line with the glass walled kitchen and micro-seasonal fare with “personality” from chef, Esben Holmboe of Maaemo restaurant in Oslo, video linked here. So primal and ethereal.

Holiday House kitchen 2014

Holiday House kitchen

Patrick Hamilton in The Drawing Room with Jockey Silks and a Mint Julips

Go Shorty Go Shorty Jade Dressler

As I climbed the stairs with The Bearded One, the rooms became more colorful to match my reddening cheeks. Thanks also to my Bourbon neat for that hue.  Imagine my surprise to see The Bearded One’s portrait above the mantlepiece in Patrick Hamilton‘s Kentucky Derby Holiday room!

Patrick Hamilton Holiday House

At first glance, deceptively simple, however derby touches revealed themselves the closer one looked. From horseshoe shapes to bright jockey silk fabrics, Patrick’s nice tip of the jockey helmet to the Year of the Horse also celebrated those timeless myths of women and horses!
(The Myth of Sparkle Pony, from the Land of Portlandia, my favorite.)

Patrick Hamilton Holiday House

The open gold motif is pared with one of my favorite colors, ice blue.

Patrick Hamilton Holiday house

The play of bright shiny and matte, very racy.

Patrick Hamilton Hay

Hey, is that a hay fireplace?

Patrick Hamilton

Dapper Patrick proves that one’s tie can match the art on the walls. Cheers.

Natalie Kraiem Sittin’ in the Breezeway With Shiny Things Reflecting on Life

Natalie Kraiem

Here’s another “heady” designer in a space she designed for a holiday of reflection. Yet another abstractist, I had to take a snap of Natalie Kraiem as she exactly matched her room. Her hallway room was the entryway to the top floor bar and I liked this touch of “reflect”and “gather yourself honey” before stepping into
that yonder den of iniquity.

holiday house reflections

In the steely wave like patterns on the walls, I saw of icicles in my mind’s eye  and was grateful to step into the next room…

#Ice #ice #Baby

  Everyone. In the Pool! With Drinks. With Silly Fun. With Deep Conversations.


If Art Basel Miami Beach is not in the cards this year, designer, Justin Shaulis brought the art fair to New York with his room, the crown of the house, the bar. Note the custom carpet here, evoking ocean waves.

Justin Shaulis Holiday House

My admired friend Pryor Callaway‘s bench and bar were sculptures, much of the art was curated by Elizabeth Sadoff, with whom I always enjoy connecting to at soirees like this. Justin enjoys fame as a design host for HGTV‘s Home Rules, so the room buzzed like an art fair.

Justin Shaulis crowd

So great to see my friends of a feather gather in the room, designer, blogger, Tamara Matthews Stephenson; writer Saxon Henry; designer, Vyna St. Phard; new friends, architect, Kimberly Brown and curator, Lisa Anastos, with Avenue magazine publisher, Randi Schatz; Elizabeth Brown, CEO of Viyet; designer, Stephanie Odegard; and visionary, Rio Hamilton, here in a YSL suit, stellar bow tie and some chick named Jade Dressler.

Rio Hamilton and Jade Dressler

Somehow I missed Island Weiss in his black and white checks and Alexa Hampton…good God, how does one miss Alexa???

I saw in other posted blogs that she was dressed in vibrant red, pink, so Alexa, these Miami Beach flocking flamingos below are for you, since I missed you in the kaleidoscope gathering.

Holiday in Miami Jade DresslerImage above from Leslie Thornton’s Biocular Menagerie series opening the Sagamore Hotel Brunch this year in MB. Some postcard witchery by me.

discussing art, Jade Dressler

I was deep in conversation with friends, when my brain said look right, whence upon there was the bearded one, in a deep, “art moment” conversation with Melissa Mittag.

art patrons

A portrait of the artist/interior designer’s mother in Dior. Loved this candid “art” moment too.

Art Basel Miami patrons

Another deep moment here with Tamara and Justin.

Pryor Callaway

Pryor was requested to lie on her Sparkle bench and pose.

Pryor Callaway

So Pryor is always in some kind of custom leather get-up, tonight in a coat made for her recent wedding. She gives us a peek inside.

books by the pool

At another moment, full of holiday cheer, I looked down into the reflective tabletop of shimmering lucite and saw it as an ocean view, with design books floating upside down like ships…Whoa! Time to head home for sure.

Soul So Inspired. Soul Warmed. Soul Grateful.


Holiday House is located at the Academy Mansion, 2 East 63rd Street, New York City, Holiday House NYC is open to the public Nov. 20 to Dec. 21, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. To purchase tickets, click here. Proceeds will benefit the Breast Cancer Research Foundation.

So many more rooms, designers and brands, too many to mention,
a general bow to all here.

Thank you Iris Dankner, visionary. Thank you Holiday House NYC, and sponsors: 1stdibs; Avenue magazine; Baccarat; Badilla; Farrow & Ball; Fendi Casa; Frontgate; Hyland magazine; ibuydesign.com; Lillian August; LXTV Open House; Michael C. Fina; Robert Allen; Roche Bobois; Savant; and Traditional Home magazine.

The really nice room images above are taken by Peter Kubilus Photography, some rooms and candids by moi, Jade Dressler and some by
The Google God of Gathering Images.

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