Beauty by Design: Henry Holland Studio
Designer Henry Holland talks us through the meditative creation of his new line of ceramics, launched exclusively at Liberty.
Formally the Creative Director of House of Holland, Henry Holland stepped down from the frenetic world of fashion in the height of the pandemic, allowing him to explore an interest in ceramics. Enjoying the unhurried, meditative process of creation, he came across the nerikomi pottery technique – a slow method of stacking, folding and rolling coloured clay into slabs, then moulding them into functional shapes – and made it his own. The result is a line of utterly unique, hand-built ceramics that sing with bold pattern and tonal colour. Here, Holland gives us the full story…
When did you forge an interest in ceramics?
I fell in love after starting lessons when I left my fashion label after 15 years. It was really cathartic and meditative and also gave me a creative outlet again.
What prompted the business switch from fashion to ceramics?
I lost my business at the beginning of the pandemic and it drove me to really spend some time working out what I wanted to do next. I feel a bit like ceramics found me and gave me an opportunity to start something new.
I would really like to keep things small-scale and in-house. We make everything ourselves in the studio and that adds such a nice feeling to everything.
How does the ceramic design process compare to that of the fast-paced fashion world?
I’m still learning! And the growing pains are real; having to understand the patience needed for the process and the pace change has been one of the biggest learning curves. But there is something nice about slowing down and not having such a frantic frenetic energy all the time.
Who makes up your team? Is small-scale craft important to you?
It’s myself and two other makers at the moment. I would really like to keep things small-scale and in-house. We make everything ourselves in the studio that adds such a nice feeling to everything.
Are you involved in all stages of the production?
Damn right - through to carrying those boxes to the post office!
Can you tell us about your discovery of the nerikomi pottery technique?
It was something I found watching youtube tutorial videos late at night. I’m an insomniac and then I gave it a go in the kitchen when lockdown got intense at Christmas. I just tried it one day in my own way and then was really excited by the results.
How have you made it your own?
I think the use of colour and pattern is something that feels very ‘me’ but the limited colour palette being tonal and subdued kept me in check and feels like an evolution of my design aesthetic from my fashion work.
Where is your studio? Can you tell us about it?
The studio I’m working from at the moment is ins Dalston and is a shared space. I found it as it was where I was having lessons and working in a shared space has such a lovely atmosphere and everyone is really supportive of each other. It feels like we're all learning from each other and our processes all the time.
How key is sustainable practice to your brand?
Very. I have already started one business where sustainability wasn’t integral to our process from the start, so I know how difficult it can be to try to incorporate this at a later date - and how expensive. It’s been really important for HHS and is integral to everything that we do, from packaging to making processes and materials - from day one.
How would you describe the aesthetic of your ceramics?
I think the pieces are playful but still very sophisticated. Just like me (groan).
Where do you draw inspiration from?
I look at a lot of Memphis work and Ettore Sottsass, which I would often reference in my fashion work but then I look at a lot of Nerikomi artists and am exploring new techniques and ways to evolve the collections all the time.
What’s your design ethos?
As long as your proud of everything you make and put out into the world you will always get the sense of achievement and satisfaction from your work.