Harris & Harris London
MEET THE MAKERS
Harris & Harris is an environmentally and socially responsible interior and product design studio, creating chic yet playful designs that focus on craftsmanship and quality whilst minimising the impact on the planet. The studio was founded in 2014 by husband and wife team Alexander and Sharon Harris who, along with their team, create designs for clients across the residential, hospitality and commercial sectors around the world.
Jiin, Finchatton’s Design Director, spoke with Alexander Harris, founder and Creative Director at Harris & Harris via Zoom to learn more about their products, their style and their inspiration as part of our ‘Meet the makers’ series.
What makes your products so unique and how would you characterise your pieces?
Our product collection consists of over 100 pieces of decorative lighting, seating, tables and mirrors. It has been steadily growing since 2015 and is set to double over the next 2 years. All of our products are handmade to order by skilled artisans and workshops, predominantly in the UK and many pieces can be tailored to suit different interior schemes. We understand how vital it is to allow our pieces to be adapted by our interior designer clients, so we encourage bespoke sizes and finishes to be specified, which makes us quite unique in that aspect.
We also offer a service to design, develop and manufacture fully bespoke items. We have been very fortunate to have produced pieces for clients including Soho House, The Arts Club, Hush Mayfair, The Hoxton and of course Finchatton for whom we have produced many bespoke pieces.
We take the environmental and social impact of our products very seriously and established our own ‘Responsible Factors’ which we have graded against our designs and use as a basis for future sustainable product development. Harris & Harris has recently joined Planet Mark, a sustainability certification organisation, to help us measure and reduce our carbon footprint. We also annually donate to The International Tree Foundation, that supports forestry projects in the UK and Africa.
In 2015 we established our ‘Designed For Life Foundation’. For every sale from our collection we donate a percentage to charities concerned with providing those without the basic needs of food, water and shelter.
I feel these social and environmental considerations are insufficient in our industry of high-end interior design, so we are doing what we can to counteract this.
Describe your signature style and what draws you to that look?
Our product collection is influenced by our European and Asian heritage; Sharon was born in Singapore, I was born in England and we met in Australia, so our outlook is very global and that certainly influences our designs. We love Modernism, Art Deco, Mid Century and 1960’s Pop Design and these styles are evident in the shapes, textures and colours of our furniture and lighting.
What are some of the most common elements in your designs?
Our ‘East meets West’ approach means we are drawn to graphical forms and simple clean lines which we try to express in our work. Using natural materials such as timber, terracotta, stone and leather is important to us as we like the honesty and tactility of these finishes. We also like mixing materials that would not normally be seen together and is a recurring theme in our work.
Where do you get your inspiration from?
We are inspired by our travels and the great designers and styles of the past, but we are also inspired by our contemporaries and new sustainable materials and manufacturing techniques. We have just moved from London to the countryside and I can already feel this inspiring our work too!
What is your design motto?
I am not sure if I have a motto but I often look at a quote from Picasso I have pinned up in our studio “Our goals can only be reached through a vehicle of a plan, in which we must fervently believe, and upon which we must vigorously act. There is no other route to success.”
Do you have a favourite product?
In terms of our own collection, the new Henry armchair is a particular favourite. It is a product I designed over eight years ago but still resonated when we were putting together our new collections to launch 2020/2021, so we pulled it out of the archive and developed it further. Our Azzero desk light and table light continue to be best sellers for us and also feature at Finchatton’s Twenty Grosvenor Square project. We have just added to the Azzero family with a new pendant, single and double wall lights and a small version of the table light.
Favourite products by others is too long to list but possibly the Twig seating series by Pinch. I was very fortunate to do a stint of work experience with Russell Pinch in 2005 before I graduated. We grew up in the same small village in Gloucestershire so I have looked up to Pinch for many years and love to see how well they have developed since that short time of working together.
Are you working on any exciting projects at the moment?
We have several bespoke hospitality projects happening at the moment which is very encouraging considering the current climate.
Sales and enquiries of our new products, that we have been launching since October 2020, have exceeded expectations and we are starting to develop new decorative lighting and furniture pieces to launch in 2022.
Following collaborations with Lelievre Paris at the start of this year, Diespeker & Co in 2019, and Heathfield & Co in 2017 we are looking to partner with other likeminded brands this year to develop new collaborative products.
And Covid allowing, we would love to have a big launch party for all of our new products and bring all of our industry friends together again, it has felt like a very long time that we have been able to do that!
Explore more about Harris & Harris’ work here.