Henry Holland interview: British designer on his new homeware range
Fashion designer Henry Holland is branching out into homeware with an exciting new collection at Freemans - he tells us all about his style influences
With his House of Holland label, Henry Holland has established himself as an icon of modern British fashion.
The Manchester-born style guru sat down to tell us all about his new homeware range at Freemans, his creative influences and his own home renovation projects.
Most people will know you as a fashion designer through your brand House of Holland, have you always been interested in homewares?
Yes, always. My mum's really big into interior design, and she also deals in antiques. She lives in France and goes to brocantes – vintage and antiques markets – over there. I've been going to those with her for as long as I can remember and picking out my own pieces. I'd been buying things for years before I even had a house! Some of them are still in storage because my house isn't big enough.
There are also so many synergies between fashion and interiors. One of my favourite things about fashion is the way that wearing different pieces can change the way that you feel, and that completely crosses over into home design. The way that you dress your rooms and the pieces that you buy really do create emotions and different feelings for different rooms in your house to suit what you need, whether it's comfort or it's entertaining – it’s all as attainable through homewares as it is through fashion.
Did you have a particular theme in mind for your collection for Freemans?
I knew how I wanted the collection to look and feel, but I didn't want it to be too themed or too seasonal. I wanted to introduce some really incredible forever pieces, and build some more changeable pieces into that. So there's a lot of print and colour introduced through the soft furnishings – cushions, bedding and rugs – then the bigger pieces are slightly more neutral. There's 100 pieces in the collection so there's something for every room but it also all works together.
I was really keen to create something that could evolve, rather than every six months reinventing the wheel or changing it completely. I wanted to create really beautiful pieces that people could build on and grow a collection, because of course not everyone's going to be buying a cabinet every year, once you have one you keep it – so I wanted to create pieces people will want to keep in their homes for a really long time.
How important was sustainability to you when creating your collection?
It was really important. The sustainability conversation when I was working in fashion was a tricky thing to navigate but it's one of the most important issues that we all have to address. As an industry we all need to work towards the goal that the most sustainable practices become common practice. Improving manufacturing processes, changing materials and the processes that we use is really key but everything still comes with a footprint, so often one of the best approaches is to buy less and buy better.
That's very much the approach to the collection – we're trying to create pieces that people will buy and love and live with for a really long time.
Which are your favourite pieces from the collection?
I think the ribbed wooden side table is really fun, it gives a pop of colour in the coral pink and mint green and it can be added to a neutral room without being too overpowering. The reeded glass door metal cabinets are also really stunning. And I love the Ursa boucle chair – we call it Shaun, because the boucle makes it look like Shaun the Sheep!
The printed loose weave cotton cushions in the two signature prints in the collection are favourites too. I think they're beautiful as well.
There’s also some gorgeous glassware in the collection…
The glassware is beautiful as well. I'm working a lot in ceramics at the moment so being able to work with freer forms and more fluid shapes has been really exciting. Glassware is a really easy way to introduce colour because it's iridescent so it's not too overpowering. It's a really nice way for someone to bring in colour if they're a little bit afraid of how to use it.
What’s a typical day at work for you?
One of the things that I love about my career is that there isn't a typical day and that's what keeps me focused, and also that I'm always learning. I was working in fashion for just under 15 years and I still was learning new things every day because every time you work with a new fabric you learn different techniques and new ideas.
I'm kind of doing the same at the moment with my ceramics. I tend to start my day catching up with my emails at home and then I head into the studio and spend some time making some ceramics. Then it's kind of a ping pong back and forth between the laptop or some zoom calls, working with suppliers, working on this collection and I’m working on other projects as well!
The only thing that really has any structure is that I'm in the gym three times a week at seven o'clock. Other than that, everything else changes.
Your first ceramics collection sold out – will you be making more of these designs?
Yes, what I'm trying to do is really keep the pace slightly slower. We're pretty conditioned working in fashion that you have to make six different collections a year and at one point I was doing over 10, so you’re working at this crazy pace that you don't realise is crazy until you take a step back. Now I'm trying to maintain a much nicer place to live and make sure that I keep a keep a lid on myself and my own internal anxieties.
It has been really amazing the way that the ceramics collection has been received, and I’m just starting to work with a couple of different partners and working on different colourways. What I fell in love with was the process and creating things with my hands and that’s something I don't want to lose. I don't want to get into this place where I'm just strung out working day and night, trying to achieve a million things at once.
What are your design influences?
I love things with a bit of personality. My reference points always tend to be mid-century 50s and 60s pieces but I have such an eclectic range of sources and inspirations. I think as a creative person you're constantly absorbing things and reconfiguring them to your own tastes and your own way of doing things. Having a job where you think of things and then they become reality is such a privilege.
How would you describe your style at home?
It's quite eclectic and a mix of styles. We tend to focus rooms around one or two really stand out pieces and build it from there. We have a lot of artwork we use to introduce colour and a more playful side to our home. We don't necessarily have every room with a different colour but we create that feeling through artwork and pieces that are movable and changeable. We’ve actually just moved house so we're still trying to figure out if all of our pieces fit!
Do you do much DIY?
It’s a bit of a mixture. I'm not averse to a bit of DIY. I wouldn't trust myself anywhere near any plumbing or electrics but I am definitely not afraid of getting the toolbox out and doing a bit myself. During the first lockdown I renovated and decorated the spare room and turned it into a home office so that was really rewarding and really enjoyable just working on that project in isolation.
Do you have big interior plans for your new home?
With our last home, we bought it and quite quickly did a lot of renovation, then in hindsight if we'd lived in it a bit longer we might have done things slightly differently, so we’ve decided to take our time with this house. It's really only the ground floor that needs reconfiguring so we might work with an architect as we’ve never done that before.
Everything else is just decoration so it's not a big project, which is quite nice. For now, we're just spending some time there and figuring out how we want the space to work for us.
What’s your top tip for creating an interior you love?
Interiors are about creating feelings and emotions, the same way that fashion is, so when you're working on a room it's thinking about what you need from that space. Is it comfort? Is it entertaining? Is it somewhere you need to really relax? Does it need to be uplifting?
Thinking about how you want to feel when you're in that room is a great starting point as it’s something that you can always go back to and check in with. If you’ve decided, okay I really want this calm, neutral, relaxing room and then you fall in love with a fluorescent painted standard lamp you can ask yourself – is that calming? It helps you keep that focus on what it is you want to achieve.
Another good rule of thumb is – the bigger the piece is, the longer you're going to live with it. So if you want to inject smaller pieces of colour and print, and more seasonality, you can do that with glassware, decorative objects, soft furnishings, cushions and pillows, and even rugs. I think it’s important to try and make sure that everything you buy, you're going to love for a really long time.
The Henry Holland Modern Living collection at Freemans will be available to buy from 4 October
This is a digital version of a feature that originally appeared in Home Style magazine. For more inspirational home ideas, why not subscribe today?