Explore the Project

Holiday House

Holiday House London: The Interior Design Show That Gives a Collector or Artist One Room to Transform

Interview by Amna R. Ali

With its first edition outside of the US, Holiday House was held in London this year in early November. This is an interior design exhibition which invites top interior designers and brands to each transform a single room of an exclusive, dedicated house, according to a theme of choice inspired by their experiences that are meaningful to them or holidays that are for great personal memories. The event was organized at Hamilton Terrace in St. John’s Wood by Holiday House London, a design show to benefit the Breast Cancer Research Foundation in the UK.

Hello! spoke to Catherine Weinstock of GW Design whose eclectic room, “The Think Tank,” seeks to inspire and encourage reflection.

Tell us a little about yourself; when did you start collecting art from Pakistan?

I am a New York-based interior designer with a substantial fine art background. I first came to Pakistan in 2005 and fell in love with the people, culture, and landscape. That is when I started collecting.

When and how did you get involved with Holiday House and have you exhibited with them before?

Holiday House is a charity that supports Breast Cancer Research – a universally affected by it. People very close to me have been afflicted, so Breast Cancer Research is a cause that I wholeheartedly support. I had participated in Holiday House NYC a few years back, and I wanted to be part of the first London edition.

How does this room that you have transformed with selected art and interior design elements have personal meaning for you?

The room is a tribute to Pakistan as the focus is on the artwork which is all from there. The four artists being featured are; Huma Mulji, Muzzumil Ruheel, Simeen Farhat, and Haya Zaidi.

Each work is of different media: photography, pen and ink on wasli, sculpture, and collage. I designed the room around the art. Other than the brilliant and compelling works that you see, there are also one-of-a-kind unique pieces of furniture and objects. The unique characteristics of each and every piece in my room, as well as the unexpected combination of them, invite the spectator to reflect on his/her place in the human landscape and begin a dialogue.

Tell us about the provenance of the major pieces you have exhibited in this room? Is there any work that you are especially proud of?

There is very little furniture in the room, that was a deliberate choice. In that way, each piece was given the space it merits in order for it to make a statement. The stunning hand made aged Tuscan oak and inlaid steel round, ‘Incontro’ table by Francesco Perini (courtesy of Gallery Fumi) is a singular piece that took many months to make. Likewise, the sinuous bronze bench by Patrick Naggar (courtesy of Dutko Gallery, Paris) is elegant in the simplicity and calls to mind the chariots of ancient Greece.

How is your room full of drama and luxury as per the design brief of the exhibition?

Drama is something that I eschew. It is short-lived and quickly gets very boring, As a rule, I go for something more sustainable and enduring. My room invites the visitor on a journey of exploration delving into archtypes, geometry, texture, colour and material. It is very rich in content, yet minimal. Each and every piece, whether it is an artwork, furniture or object, interact with all the others, yet has the strength to stand on its own. There is nothing superfluous.

However, there is a sense of luxury, in as much, as everything is unique and special — not branded or mass produced. For me, luxury is subtle and private.

Which room have you found beautiful or inspirational from the rest of the exhibition?

I very much enjoyed all the rooms and found them interesting. The array of different styles and approaches was very exciting to see in one place!

Tell us about the inaugural party? What was some of the feedback you got on the day?

The inaugural party was a full house of London society and celebrities. Elizabeth Hurley was the honorary guest. Visitors loved the variety, and I got very positive feedback on my room.

Give us some tips about collecting contemporary art? What are your future goals?

My tip is to buy what you like and what you would like to live with — investment should not be first and foremost on your mind.

I enjoy buying the work of emerging artists — getting to know them, and watching them evolve. I collect art from Pakistan exclusively and I follow the art scene there closely. I have a nice collection and I continue to look for new work. Some of the names in my collection; Waqas Khan, Muhammad Ali Talpur, Amjad Ali Talpur, Abid Aslam, Sajjad Ahmed, Irman Channa, Rehana Mangi, Wardah Naeem Bukhari, Kazmi Batool, Sumaira Tazeen, Mohshin Shafi, Moshin Shaikh, Haider Ali, Sardar Ali Qureshi, Nurjehan Bilgrami, Farhat Ali, Zahid Hussain Soomro, Asad Ali Abid, Mahwish Chishty, Muhmmad Hoysen.

Who are some of your favorite artists from Pakistan and why?

Other than the ones in my collection, there are so many more that I admire. I don’t want to offend anybody by mistakenly forgetting to give them mention. Suffice it to say that the caliber of art work that is coming out of Pakistan is unparalleled anywhere else in the world.

Consistently their techniques are innovative and masterful, and their subject matter is original yet very much concerns itself around current issues. All are imbued with a sense of spirituality.

Any plans of coming to Pakistan again? When were you last here?

I was in Pakistan last year for a month and plan to come back in early 2018. It’s a place that is very dear to my heart as I have many good friends there, and I am always inspired when I visit.