The global pandemic has forced brands and creators into a state of deep reflection. Case in point, Henry Holland. The London-based fashion designer was one of the leading voices in contemporary fashion who exited his 15-year fashion label House of Holland last year to pursue a medium out of his existing skillset.
Bringing the same wit and sense of play in clothing to ceramics, his collection of tableware made with coloured clay at his Dalston-based studio is released in made-to-order batches. Still in his early days of conception, he has already caught the eye of luxury retailers such as Liberty London to extend his range that appeals to their highly curated edit of lifestyle design goods.
In our latest edition of #legendchats, we speak to Holland about his new creative path and embracing the unknown.
What was the main deciding factor behind leaving your 15-year long fashion label, House of Holland?
The pandemic created a series of financial challenges. When it became clear that we would be selling the business, I decided that I had had the most amazing 15 years of my life working with some fantastic people, and that I was ready for a new challenge.
How did the exploration of ceramicware come into the picture?
I started taking ceramic lessons as a creative outlet once I stepped down from my namesake brand as a sort of therapy and a way to keep creating. Then when the lockdowns in the UK intensified, I had some clay delivered to my home started experimenting there. I really fell in love with it.
Has your ideation process changed with the shift from textiles to ceramics?
Yes, and no. The pace of fashion is so intense, and we create and deliver four to six collections every year, so the workload is rigorous. So, I am trying to slow myself down a lot, learn patience and really explore ideas to the full and allow myself time to develop them more than I could. But creating the patterns and shapes isn’t completely alien. It’s still working with texture, colour, pattern and shapes but in a more tactile way.
Who and what did you reference when crafting your debut line of tableware?
I was looking at heaps of YouTube videos of the Nerikomi technique, which is a Japanese ceramic process. I’ve experimented on other forms of “marbling”, but I always came back to this specific method of stacking coloured clay instead.
Within a few months, your homeware has already caught the attention of luxury department stores, including Liberty. How did the collaboration spark, and what can your fans expect?
They contacted me through Instagram – which was crazy – and I was so thrilled. I have extensive experience of working with stores but I had no plans to make the collection a wholesale thing. I was simply planning to create pieces on a really small scale and focus on e-commerce. I am working on expanding the range and developing new colourways and continuing the signature pattern that I have before I work on other lines. To be honest, I am still adapting to this slower pace of craft.
What’s the next medium you are excited to introduce to Henry Holland Studio?
I am working on a collection of rugs that are coming out in September with samples produced with no hiccups, so I’m ecstatic to evolve and expand the Henry Holland Studio aesthetic into more categories soon.
With in-person shopping being limited to an extent, how are you reimagining the retail experience online with this new venture?
I’m just keeping it really personal with all of my customers and mangling all the communications myself so they know that they are getting a personalised made-to-order piece just for them.
What’s your biggest takeaway from this global pandemic as an independent artist?
I think it created a space for me like so many to have some time to think and actually make again. We get so caught up on life and business that the pandemic and the lockdowns created a sense of pause to reflect and that when a creative brain really gets the chance to kick in.