Sitting room by Javier Fernandez.
Great room by Brendan Flanigan. STEVEN STOLMAN
Designer Scot Meacham Wood in his breakfast room. STEVEN STOLMAN
Library by Christina Nielsen. STEVEN STOLMAN
Powder room by Elan Designs STEVEN STOLMAN
Designer Greg McKenzie in the master bath featuring Kohler fixtures and fittings STEVEN STOLMAN
Bedroom by Mabley Handler in collaboration with Serena & Lily STEVEM STOLMAN
This year’s showhouse is a traditional Hamptons country house built by Town & Country East End Inc. STEVEN STOLMAN
Under normal circumstances, a designer showhouse does, for the interconnected worlds of homebuilding, interior décor and landscape design, what a runway show does for the fashion industry. It offers a platform for tastemakers and innovators to present their individual points of view to a targeted audience made up of media and consumers.
Both careers and trends have been launched, amid a flurry of gala benefit preview parties, ticketed daytime visitors — often embellished with accompanying designer lectures and book signings — all resulting in the coveted magazine covers, articles and, of course, the millions of Instagram moments. It’s all a heady, buoyant convention of a hip, glamorous world. Until now.
COVID-19 has dumped a big bucket of water on these stylish, Camelot-like sandcastles. For the moment, there will be no parties, no illuminating panel discussions and no stream of in-person visitors for the usual month or so that makes up the “run of show.” But, in the case of the venerable Hampton Designer Showhouse, which for two decades has benefited Stony Brook Southampton Hospital, the show must go on.
Tony Manning, a longtime showhouse and design industry marketing pro, has been the guiding light of this longstanding fixture of the Hamptons summer scene. He wears many hats — that of president of the Hampton Designer Showhouse Foundation along with the hands-on producer of the showhouse itself. For him, canceling this year’s showhouse was simply not an option.
“We wanted to keep some continuity — and had so many generous sponsors who had not only committed to support the showhouse, but had also already shipped product to us. We owed them our best efforts given the circumstances,” Mr. Manning said.
Those efforts will provide their returns through a dynamic broadcast of comprehensive imagery premiering on presenting sponsor Hamptons Cottages & Gardens’ website (cottagesgardens.com) on Monday, August 31, along with the October print issues of both HC&G and its sister publication NYC&G. To honor the fundraising aspect of the showhouse, all donations received through the showhouse website will be directed to the Stony Brook Southampton Hospital’s “Healthcare for Heroes Fund,” which supports the hospital’s ability to ensure ample staffing, add both ICU and standard medical/surgical capacity on demand, and provide additional equipment, technology and supplies related to the COVID-19 pandemic. The donate button can be found at hamptondesignershowhouse.com/general-information-2/.
A preview visit to the showhouse — a newly built traditional Hamptons country estate in Sag Harbor — belied the extraordinary circumstances of this year’s event. There was a flurry of activity, albeit masked, as contractors completed last-minute installations, designers added finishing touches to their spaces and photographers’ teams began their painstaking documentation of a designer showhouse that will ultimately be experienced virtually. Good humor abounded, as designer Scot Meacham Wood styled his lavishly layered kitchen and breakfast room. “For once, I can use real food,” he said as he filled majolica cereal bowls with granola, accompanied by piles of freshly baked scones. “It only has to last for the photo shoot!”
Sandwiched between the kitchen and the soaring living room by Brendan Flanigan, with its expansively dramatic plum velvet sofa, is a precisely tailored, orange-toned library by Christina Nielsen. With its accents of brass and glass, plus the proper assortment of must-have coffee table books, it pushes all the right buttons for visually compelling, memorable presentation.
In the front parlor, designer Javier Fernandez and his wife, Martha, could be found placing final accessories in their space, a Hollywood Regency-meets-safari themed sitting room with a dramatic green lacquered ceiling. Adjacent is a soothing, Hamptons-perfect blue and white guest room by the Water Mill design duo Jennifer Mabley and Austin Handler in collaboration with the home furnishings retailer Serena & Lily.
Kitchens and baths are traditionally the most popular spaces in any showhouse, and this year’s Hampton Designer Showhouse doesn’t disappoint. From the essential open kitchen with all the bells and whistles, including high-end appliances from sponsors Sub-Zero, Wolf and Cove, along with bespoke Ciuffo Cabinetry, to the many of-the-moment, ultra-luxury Kohler baths, ideas, trends and innovation abound.
Bunny Williams, one of the most respected designers in the business and a longtime chair of the renowned Kips Bay Decorator Show House said, “Showhouses offer a platform for young designers to show their talents to a large public. They also often showcase new artists, furniture makers, fabric lines and lighting designs, and they become a huge source for exciting products to be shown to all those interested in architecture and interior design.” In the case of this summer’s Hampton Designer Showhouse, she couldn’t be more spot on.
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