Iris Dankner: Empowering Interiors And Hope For A Breast Cancer-Free Future

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Iris Dankner is a shining light in the enthralling realm of charity and design, displaying unwavering dedication, creativity, and hope. As a member of The Breast Cancer Research Foundation’s (BCRF) advisory board, she adds to her impressive repertoire, which includes her Holiday House interior design show house. By fusing her love of interior design and philanthropy, she has raised an impressive $1.5 million for this worthy organization, galvanizing the fight against breast cancer. Her actions speak volumes about her unwavering commitment to this noble and necessary cause.

Dankner’s tenacity in supporting The Breast Cancer Research Foundation is a testament to her strong character and enduring devotion. Through her astute leadership and the tangible benefits of Holiday House, she has created a lasting legacy that will change the lives of future generations. As each dollar raised, every breakthrough funded, and every life saved, Iris propels us towards the day when the peril of breast cancer is vanquished.

More than a trendsetter, she is a catalyst for change. The visionary designer and compassionate advocate has shown us that style and philanthropy can unite in a harmonious symphony, creating a world where hope triumphs over adversity.

Iris Dankner. Photo by Gregg Delman

Iris, you are a legend in the philanthropic arena. Your award-winning work has raised more than $1.5M in funds towards breast cancer research. As a multi-decade survivor yourself, what keeps you so passionate about the cause and what do you have coming up for the Hamptons?

I see how many people’s lives are touched by this horrible disease and that motivates me to keep going. I feel it is very important to raise awareness and educate young women on the important of early detection. If it wasn’t for early detection I would not be here today. Because of all the hard work we do there is so much new research happening and treatments so a breast cancer diagnosis is no longer a death sentence. 

Our next upcoming event is Holiday House Hamptons Designer Showhouse. We are so thrilled to be opening the doors on July 8 for people to view the fabulous design work. We are also very excited about the various events taking place throughout the run of show. One that I am most excited about is our Get on Board Surfboard Auction on August 11, where 20 artists have each designed their own board to be auctioned off for charity. This event will benefit The Ellen Hermanson Foundation and the work they do for the breast center at The Southampton Hospital. 

Iris Dankner, Jay Dankner. Photo by John Sanderson, AnnieWatt.com

Which builder are you working with for the Holiday House and why?

We are working with Matthew Pantofel of BJC Custom Homes. We were very fortunate to be introduced to Matt and when we saw the house he was building we instantly fell in love. It is refreshing to not be working with a traditional shingle house that you see so often in the Hamptons. Matt’s house is so unique and modern and we were up for the challenge of filling it with the most beautiful design. 

“It is very important for me to stay true to my personal aesthetic by creating classic, modern spaces in which to live.” — Iris Dankner

How do you decide which interior designers will be showcasing in it?

I always look for a variety of designers from A-List, emerging designers, and influencers. I also take into consideration their design style in comparison to the style of the home we are transforming. I work very hard to make all of our showhouses cohesive so that somebody walking through can really envision living in the space. 

The pandemic years must have been difficult for someone who is socially so omnipresent. How did that period affect you and work?

It was very challenging to keep our brand alive but we pivoted to create many interesting virtual events. Working fully remote gave me a chance to take a deep breath and get back to my passion of creating artwork. I have always loved to paint but never had time so it turned this disadvantage into an advantage. After having time to recharge, I emerged with a reinvigorated spirit and was ready as ever to get back to my passion of fundraising and having in person events. 

Amy Lau, Iris Dankner, Jean Shafiroff. Photo by John Sanderson, AnnieWatt.com

You were an art director for Lord & Taylor. How and why did you transition to interior design?

I worked at Lord and Taylor for 14 years before they had computers. My handwriting was actually the Lord and Taylor logo. For each ad that was released for 48 stores I had to hand draw the logo. Once the art department was replaced by computers, I had to make a shift in my career. Having a background in art, I decided to go from creating two-dimensional art to three-dimensional and become and interior designer.  

We’ve read many different descriptions of your style direction. How do you yourself describe your interior design style?

I would describe my interior design style to be modern and classic balanced by sophistication and comfort. I love to use contemporary color palettes and rich textures in everything I do. As an artist myself, I also love to work with clients who have an extensive art collection. Sometimes the artwork inspires my design and guides me. 

Where do you go or what do you read for design inspiration?

Most of my design inspiration comes from my travels, whether it be personal or business. I also love drawing inspiration from fashion. The fashion and design worlds are often very synonymous as we see in the different emerging styles, colors, and textures being used in both.

Iris Dankner, Jeanne Swerlin, Harold Terens (Iris’ Dad). Photo by AnnieWatt.com

How have you grown as a philanthropist? What are you most grateful for?

With all of the challenges that come with producing a designer showhouse year after year, there are times when I question myself. But once all is said and done I am able to see what a difference we make and how many lives we touch and it reinforces how important it is for me to continue doing the hard work. I am most grateful for the design community for opening up their arms and their hearts to help me grow this event over the last 15 years. 

I’d like to give huge thanks to the design community and the Hamptons community for embracing Holiday House and supporting our cause and mission to raise awareness and money for this horrible disease. Without all of the support from these incredible people none of this would be possible. We will continue producing Holiday House events until my dream of living in a world without breast cancer becomes a reality!

To learn more about Iris Dankner, visit ID Creations By Iris Dankner.

Ty Wenzel

Co-Publisher & Contributor

Ty Wenzel started her career as a fashion coordinator for Bloomingdale’s followed by fashion editor for Cosmopolitan Magazine. She was also a writer for countless publications, including having published a memoir and written features for The New York Times. She is an award-winning writer and designer who covers lifestyle, real estate, architecture and interiors for James Lane Post. Wenzel is also a co-founder of the meditation app for kids, DreamyKid, and the social media agency, TWM Hamptons Social Media.

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