This year has brought another exciting highlight to my work as a designer. About two months ago I was invited to participate in The Hampton Designer Showhouse in Bridgehampton, New York. Today my great friend Austin Handler of Mabley Handler Interior Design in the Hamptons gives us a look at the history of this celebrated showhouse. – Tobi
Summertime in the Hamptons conjures up many images: Beautiful shingle-style houses, stunning beaches, dining at great restaurants, and attending elegant benefit parties. Or, as famed high-lifestyle photographer Slim Aarons so famously said: “Beautiful people in beautiful place doing beautiful things.”
(Scattered throughout this post are rooms from previous showhouses.)
This Saturday evening, the beautiful place that the beautiful people in the Hamptons will flock to is the preview gala for the Hampton Designer Showhouse. The opening party and the Showhouse itself is a benefit for Southampton Hospital, and is one of the premiere summer attractions in the Hamptons. Thousands of people visit the Showhouse every summer to support the hospital, but to also see the latest interior design trends and home décor ideas, and for the last three years, Traditional Home Magazine has presented the event, and provided editorial coverage.
The Hampton Designer Showhouse is held at a different house each year, usually constructed by one of the leading building firms in the Hamptons (Farrell Building Co. and Sand Dollar Development Corp. have built some of the previous Showhouses). This year’s Showhouse was built by All Season General Contracting, and the house is located on Scuttle Hole Road in Bridgehampton. As usual, the house features the work of over 20 of the best interior designers in the country, from top Hamptons firms Brady Design, Carole Reed Design, and Robert Stilin LLC, to noted designers Lillian August, Tilton Fenwick , and of course, Tobi Fairley!
The opening gala of the Hampton Designer Showhouse is a must-attend Hamptons party, possibly the most notable charity event of the summer (with perhaps the exception of Grand Prix Sunday at the Hampton Classic horse show, which also benefits Southampton Hospital). But the origin of the Hamptons Designer Showhouse has much more humble beginnings.
Instead of being housed in a newly-constructed shingle manse, the Showhouse was originally held at the Villa Maria estate in Water Mill. Villa Maria was originally built as a private residence in 1887 and changed hands several times before being sold to the Sisters of St. Dominic, a Roman Catholic order of nuns, around 1930. Villa Maria became a convent, and later the Dominican Sisters added a spirituality center for holistic living. However, in 2000, with the estate in need of major repairs, the Sisters reached out to some of their neighbors for help.
A group of local Water Mill residents headed their call. Barbara Moeller, Gary Crain, and Gloria Rabinowitz, with the help of Tony Manning from Mitchell Manning Associates, created the Hampton Designer Showhouse to benefit the Villa Maria Estate. In exchange for hosting an interior designer Showhouse at Villa Maria, the proceeds raised would go to the Sisters to help repair their ailing building. The Showhouse was held there twice, in the summers of 2000 and 2001, but the Sisters eventually had to put the estate on the market, and it was sold to Nine West co-founder Vincent Camuto (who spent five years renovating it, and then put it back on the market!). In 2002, the Hampton Designer Showhouse officially became a benefit for Southampton Hospital.
From its beginnings as a benefit for a group of Dominican Sisters, to the major Hamptons event that it has become, there is one thing that has remained constant at the Hampton Designer Showhouse: Year after year, it features the work or some of the most recognized names in the field of interior design. Over the last eleven years, the likes of Jamie Drake, Bunny Williams, Marshall Watson, Charlotte Moss, Eric Cohler, Alexa Hampton, Christopher Maya, Kate Singer, Juan Montoya, Brad Ford, Nancy Corzine and Richard Keith Langham have all contributed gorgeous rooms to the Showhouse. In addition, the Showhouse has committed to include the growing collection of local designers that are choosing to make the Hamptons their home and workplace, such as Kevin Hart, Elsa Soyars, and Jennifer Mabley & Austin Handler of Mabley Handler Interior Design.
The 2011 Hampton Designer Showhouse is presented by Traditional Home to Benefit Southampton Hospital
This year’s Showhouse is located at 1224 Scuttle Hole Road in Bridgehampton, NY
Open Daily, Monday to Sunday from Sunday July 24 to September 4, 11am to 5pm
Admission is $30 and includes a Journal.
The Gala Preview Cocktail Party is on Saturday, July 23rd, 2011, from 6:00 – 8:30pm
For tickets and more information, visit www.HamptonDesignerShowhouse.com or call (631) 237-1475