Designers on Holiday: Modern, Minimalist Tents, Cabins, Guest Houses, and More
Designers on Holiday is a summer camp in Gotland, Sweden, for 20- and 30-something creatives. The brainchild of designers Bobby Petersen and Tom Gottelier of LA- and Oslo-based , the getaway was conceived in 2014—a year after the two graduated from London’s Royal College of Art—when they acquired a 3.5-acre parcel of farmland from a friend’s mother. It’s a place for kindred spirits to spend a few sunny weeks together dreaming up and building structures for outdoor living: tents, micro-cabins, saunas, and shower towers, all with a focus on “sustainable, off-grid living in a modern, luxurious, and design-conscious way.”
Petersen and Gottelier are an international duo: “Bobby is Swedish-American, and studied in Sweden, Iceland, and the UK,” they explain. “Tom is British, and studied in the Netherlands and the UK by way of Sri Lanka.” Designers on Holiday began as a passion project: seeing the value of collaboration, they enlisted friends to join them on their island retreat off Sweden’s southeast coast. Now, they host a minimum of 30 designers each summer for one- and two-week stays—admission is by portfolio and interview, and the fee is a mere £20 per day, including meals, materials, and field trips (“it is very much not for profit,”says Gottelier). The past two seasons had to be canceled due to Covid. Still, Petersen and Gottelier have continued dreaming up Designers on Holiday-like structures in California—and using DOH as the signature name for their outdoorsy designs. Join us for a look at what they’ve been up to in Sweden and California.
Photography courtesy of ().
DOH in Gotland, Sweden
Above: “We specialize in simple, minimal design that heightens and deepens the outdoor experience,” says Gottelier. DOH’s are made of Swedish pine and polyester canvas, and date from one of the camp’s first summers. Occupants were invited to customize their quarters and several responded by adding stilts.
The camp has slowly come to be courtesy of its campers: each season, new structures get added that are both essential (the cooking area) and fun (the plunge pool, outdoor gym, and movie theater). Tents, cabins, and anything collapsible is stored in a barn during the winter.
Above: The DOH sailboat’s canvas sail was tinted by “melting wax and pigment into the cotton” and the deck, daggerboard, and rudder were finished with a burning technique. It’s the creation of Avantika Agarwal of Superliminal in collaboration with Petersen & Gottelier.
Above: The same duo made this of waxed cotton and Swedish pine. To keep the work to their liking, Petersen and Gottelier provide prospective participants with a booklet detailing DOH design standards and green guidelines: “our only requirements are that you are out of school, would like to learn from others, collaborate, have a skill to share—cooking, woodwork, biology, anything that can contribute to the camp—and are willing to follow the DOH rules.”
Above: The newest addition to the “spa area,” the , is an upside-down triangle with rooftop lounge seating. It’s the work of designers James Shaw, Will Yates Johnson, Annika Thiems, Matylda Krzykowski, and Marina Stanimirovic, who, like most campers, traveled from afar to join the group in Gotland.
Above: The sauna is weatherproofed with a Swedish tar finish. “Some projects are cannibalized the next year to create new ones,” explains Gottelier. “We re-use a lot of materials but make a big effort to make everything not look like it’s made from scrap.”
Above: The DOH Studio , with a door of ripstop sail fabric, is designed to be easily movable on the back of a tractor: “as long as the cabins are positioned with the sun behind them in the morning, they’re nice and cool,” says Gottelier.
Above: Inspired by World War II dazzle camouflage on ships, the is composed of a flatpack cube that sits atop a wooden deck. It’s faced with a patchwork of cotton dyed with juniper gathered on the property, and is the creation of London textile designer Working Cloth, Elfrida Nilsdotter Ahiby, and Petersen & Gottelier.
Above: The Petersen & Gottelier-designed DOH . Petersen’s family farm, in the south of Sweden, provides the camp with organic ingredients. The DOH cook is , author of the cookbook
DOH in California
Above: This past year, Petersen and Gottlier have carried on the DOH practice closer to home. They recently completed this 120-square-foot guest retreat, aka The Chef’s Cabin, for a client in Sonoma, California. “All of our work is driven by a desire to push the expectations of what sustainable design can be,” says Petersen.
Above: “The Chef’s Cabin is part of our new, much more fancy cabins that we are selling as kits and as bespoke designs,” says Gottelier. It’s made of local redwood and has a galvanized steel roof.
Above: Bobby Petersen (L) and Tom Gottelier (R) on a sofa that assembles with no tools by their friends Philip Otto and Davide Berruto of .
Above: One of Petersen & Gottelier’s ongoing clients is , a regenerative organic, not-for-profit farm in San Juan Capistrano, CA, with educational programs and a farm stand. Shown here, the duo’s roaming : “it has a solar-powered front door that opens and closes at dawn and sunset, and two large wings that open to give the birds extra shade during the day,” says Gottelier. “The aluminum cladding is durable, aesthetically interesting, and helps keep the interior nice and cool.”
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