By Elisabeth Brigham By Elisabeth Brigham | April 23, 2023 | Home & Real Estate Home & Real Estate Feature Home & Real Estate
Holiday House founder Iris Dankner
This summer, the Holiday House (holidayhousehamptons.com) makes its highly anticipated return to the East End with a designer showhouse in Bridgehampton. We sat down with founder Iris Dankner to talk inspiration, how she hopes to impact the community and what’s in store for the upcoming season.
WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO START HOLIDAY HOUSE? At my first routine mammogram, at the age of 40, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I was an interior designer with two young daughters and my world was immediately turned upside down. But thanks to my incredible medical team and support from friends and family, I made a full physical recovery. After this ‘survival,’ I realized how important it is to spread awareness about this horrible disease and raise funds for scientific research to hopefully find a cure. This is when I began my journey as a fundraiser, which helped me recover emotionally. For 10 years, I was a full-time interior designer and also a full-time fundraiser, so I came up with the idea to start a designer showhouse as a way of marrying my two passions in life. I am proud to say we are the first event in the design industry that was formed to benefit women’s issues.
HOW DO YOU PERSONALLY RELATE TO THE CAUSE, OR WHAT DRIVES YOUR PASSION? My experience with being diagnosed at such a young age is what drives my passion. Ironically, getting that first mammogram on that fateful day saved my life. I hope that by sharing my story I can help to save many more lives in the future.
HOW DO YOU HOPE TO BRING CHANGE TO THE COMMUNITY? I want to spread as much awareness as possible and encourage women to always go for their routine mammograms. Early detection really does save lives! I also want to create a safe place for women to connect with others who have gone through the same upheaval in their lives, a place where they can feel comfortable talking about their experience. When I was diagnosed, nobody spoke about cancer, so I felt that I was navigating it all on my own. My hope is that no woman feels alone in their experience and that we can create an incredible support system for those battling breast cancer.
“MY HOPE IS THAT NO WOMAN FEELS ALONE IN THEIR EXPERIENCE AND THAT WE CAN CREATE AN INCREDIBLE SUPPORT SYSTEM FOR THOSE BATTLING BREAST CANCER.” –IRIS DANKNER
WHY DO YOU THINK THE HOLIDAY HOUSE RESONATES WITH HAMPTONITES SO MUCH? I think Holiday House resonates with Hamptonites both just because they love design and fashion, but [also] because, unfortunately, there are pockets of Long Island that have very high rates of breast cancer diagnoses and so many people have been touched by the disease in one way or another. I always say that it’s both fortunate and unfortunate that so many people have been touched by breast cancer: On one hand, it has helped us to raise almost $2 million for research over the years, but on the other hand, so many people have personally struggled or have a loved one who has struggled with the disease. And, as I said before, I believe Holiday House is so beloved and successful because it is an event that puts the ‘fun’ back in ‘fundraising.’ In the Hamptons, we live for entertaining and design. Holiday House allows people to be philanthropic while having fun and enjoying all the best the Hamptons have to offer.
WHAT IS UP NEXT FOR YOU AND THE ORGANIZATION? I plan to continue the hard work producing our events in NYC and the Hamptons and am considering taking Holiday House on the road. We are considering producing a Holiday House designer showhouse in Florida or L.A. Who knows, maybe we’ll even go abroad again! I just want our very important message to reach as many people as possible so that we can one day reach my goal—to live in a world without breast cancer.
IS THERE ANYTHING ELSE YOU WOULD LIKE TO SHARE? I want to express my deep gratitude to the Hamptons community for its love and support of Holiday House over the years and ultimately helping me get closer and closer to my dream of living in a world without breast cancer. I am so thrilled to be able to share that Holiday House is returning to the Hamptons this summer with a designer showhouse for the first time since the pandemic. We cannot wait to reunite with you all in person soon!
Photography by: PHOTO BY GREGG DELMAN