Sam Wylie-Harris chats to the designer about his crossover from fashion to interiors and much, much more.
Fashion designer Henry Holland is known for his bold designs, slogan T-shirts and quintessentially British clothing brand – so perhaps it’s no surprise the founder of House of Holland is equally at home in the world of interiors.
From the catwalk to ceramics, contemporary textiles and soft furnishings, Holland is launching Henry Holland Modern Living, an exciting new homeware collection and collaboration with digital department store, Freemans.
It’s a crafted collection of 100 considered and affordable pieces, which stay true to Holland’s design aesthetic and interiors vision, with a nod to iconic designs from the 1970s.
“It definitely has a slightly retro feel to it because of my love of modern, mid-century shapes, forms and pieces,” says the Ramsbottom-born designer. “And then we introduced my personal touches of texture and colour to the soft furnishings and some of the printed pieces.”
Henry Holland Modern Living Lie With Me 2 Seat Sofa, £799; The Rug That Shagged Me, from £99; Cushions from £19; Cock-A-Hoop Large Cup Shaped Planter, Terracotta, £60; Full Bean Blob Mirror, £99; Big Bean Blob Mirror, £69; The Little Guy Ribbed End Table, £149, Freemans.
“It’s been really lovely to build something that feels cohesive, but also, it’s got some standout individual pieces along with beautiful, forever pieces people can have in their home for many years,” Holland adds.
The 38-year-old – who lives with his husband, designer David Hodgson and their French bulldog Peggy in East London – closed the door on his House of Holland label in March 2020. On reflection, he thinks the biggest crossover between fashion and interiors is in the texture and manufacture of the product.
“As a designer, every time you work with a different fabrication, it teaches you a completely new set of rules. Working with lace is completely different to working with silk, and vice versa,” notes Holland. “I think it can create completely different emotions and feelings and when you’re working in fabric.
“With fashion, it’s very much about how it moves and how it drapes, but with homewares its much more about; you know emotions you can create through texture, how it makes you feel and what you get back from a room.”
The majority of the range will be available from October, but Holland says there’ll be other pieces coming a little later. “It’s been really nice to work across all the different categories, soft furnishings, furniture, ceramic and glass, lighting and build something that’s a full collection.”
Henry Holland Modern Living Shaun Ursa Boucle Chair £249; Minty Henry Floor Lamp Tripod Base – Mint, £99; Hoopla Planters, from £35, Freemans.
Hero pieces include a stunning cream boucle sofa with corresponding accent chair. “He’s called Shaun because I think it looks like Shaun the Sheep [from the kids’ TV series],” Holland continues. “I love the glass-fronted cabinet and some of the larger scale things. Working in 3D with the furniture pieces was amazing for me, I found that really fulfilling and exciting. But then, you know I love the kind of abstract shapes, the mirrors, I mean it’s really hard to cheat.”
Henry Holland Modern Living Reclaim Your Joy Framed Poster, £49, Freemans.
A number of framed posters feature within the range and give swift insight into the aesthetic behind the collection. “The artwork and prints are definitely something we want to build on,” says Holland. “The ‘Reclaim Your Joy’ is actually something that came from one of my acupuncture appointments. He said, ‘You just want to reclaim your joy’, and I said I couldn’t have put it better myself.
“I really like the feeling behind that phrase. It really reflects what people are needing from their home at the moment and with a lot of pieces in the collection, that’s what we’re trying to help people to do.”
Henry Holland Modern Living The Big Guy Ribbed Coffee Table, £199, Freemans.
Holland has also launched Henry Holland Studio. Recent projects include a series of beautifully designed ceramic dinner chargers for a private dinner held by Moët & Chandon, as well as a striking collection of rugs in bold, psychedelic patterns for FLOOR_STORY as part of the London Design Festival 2021.
“I kind of found it as a creative outlet when I stepped back from fashion,” explains Holland. “I just really fell in love with the process of making things with my hands, and probably the first time in 15 years when I can’t look at my phone for several hours, because I’m so involved. Working in 3D is a new experience from working in fashion and I’m really enjoying it, and working on more and more of it when I can.”
Does he miss the fashion industry? “Yes and no,” he quips. “I’ve not turned by back on it, and I’m still working on a few consultancy and fashion projects, but it’s been really nice to have a break. As an industry, it’s all encompassing and the pace at which you’re working is insane, and you don’t realise it’s abnormal until you step back.”
Henry Holland Modern Living Long Tall Sally Metal 2 Door Highboard, £399; Long Ripple Ceramic Shaped Vase, White, £40; Knickerbockerglory 3 Level Glass Vase, Amber/Opal/Lilac, £35, Freemans.
“I’m having to put a lid on myself and make sure I’m not giving too much and recreating that same unattainable pace, because it’s almost like I’m pre-conditioned to work in that way,” Holland reflects. “A lot of people in the homeware world are kind of surprised at how quickly I’ve moved with that type of thing, but I’m like. ‘Well, if this was fashion, I would have designed and delivered six collections already this year’.
“So you know, it’s crazy when you do the comparison. But of course, I still love fashion and always will. And now I just get to enjoy it as a personal hobby, and not so much of a work thing for the moment.”
A self-confessed shopaholic, Holland admits it’s wonderful to go to the menswear department and not to be thinking, ‘What would I be doing if that was me?’
“When you’re a designer you tend to shop with your hands. You go through the rails and you’re constantly feeling all of the fabrics and looking at, you know, the trends, and then you start looking at country of origin labels to see where people are making things, and it just ruins the experience.
“For a shopaholic, you just want to know if it’s going to fit you and look good for a certain event or whatever, but you’re constantly distracted by how something’s been made, or where it’s been made, so it’s freed me up to really just enjoy being a shopaholic!”
Whether it’s fashion or interiors, the end goal at the end of the week for this power couple is to switch off and unwind. Today, like so many of us, Holland and Hodgson – who’s creative director for handbag designer Lulu Guinness – have found refuge within their four walls.
“That’s why we’ve got so much into our home and creating a sanctuary for ourselves,” says Holland. “We tend to go 10 to the dozen during the week and then we really need to have a space to chill and relax in, where we feel comfortable. So that’s what’s driven a lot of the homewares really, creating a space and sanctuary for downtime.
“People often ask me, ‘When do you relax?’, and I usually reply, ‘When I’m unconscious!’ When you have a career and a creative brain, it doesn’t ever seem to stop. And I wouldn’t change that for the world, but you’re constantly looking at new things and trying to formulate new ideas in your head of how you would do something differently.
“I think that’s the definition of a creative brain,” says Holland. “But sometimes you just need that switch off time when you’re watching crap TV.”
Henry Holland Modern Living for Freemans launches October 4.