Designers on Holiday

Tags: , ,

This summer, 20 or so creatives will assemble on the Swedish island of Gotland for two weeks and with one goal: to make.

It will be the third running of Designers on Holiday, a summer camp of sorts created by Tom Gottelier and Bobby Petersen, the duo behind London-based design firm Featuring-Featuring. This year, a new set of campers will add to the creations already scattered about the grounds—a wood burning sauna, a limestone hot tub, a 14-foot sailboat.

The camp was conceived as a recess from the artistic constraints of the “creative” industry. Although the name includes the word “designer,” the group, compiled both of friends of the creators and applicants from around the world, spans discipline. Architects and biologists join potters and bakers. The only rules: no hippies, no students and you have to share something with the camp, whether a physical creation or knowledge and skills.

The remote island of Gotland is Swedish politically, but has its own language, history and culture. The site is rustic, but DOH isn’t entirely a back-to-basics retreat.

“It’s an exercise in exploring off-the-grid living in the most luxurious way possible,” say Gottelier and Petersen. “This is, after all, a holiday.” Hence the hot tub and outdoor cinema screen.

The campers build with local pine and limestone, but there are trips to the city for extra building materials. Power tools run off generators and solar-powered batteries. The fabric is from Ikea. The campers eat bread from a wood-fired oven they built on-site, sleep in tents they construct for themselves on the first day, and take time off from building to explore the scenery of Gotland. The island then inserts itself back into the work.

“[Ideas] come about through the campers’ interaction with the site,” say Gottelier and Petersen. “They are forced to design around the site, adjusting to best suit the environment and the aesthetic.”

With plans to open the site to creative firms in need of a one-week retreat and an additional site somewhere in the U.S., Designers on Holiday will soon be expanding its unique footprint. Summer camp with talented people, creating a one-of-a-kind luxury experience in a beautiful setting? Sign us up.

This article was originally published in RANGE Magazine Issue Five.