Design Guru Henry Holland Talks Style, Inspiration & More
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Style is such a personal thing. It’s played such a huge role in my career so far – both in fashion and now in ceramics and homeware. My style is a reflection of my personality, and I use clothes and my home as a form of expression. So I guess my style is bold and playful.
I knew I had different taste to my friends from a really young age. Often during your formative years, you just try to fit in – which I was certainly guilty of at certain points. When I first moved to London from up north, I really recognised the importance of taste and personal style – London is such a cultural melting pot, it’s impossible not to be inspired by the people you encounter.
My parents were told by my teachers that I was ‘too creative’. That was probably my first inkling that I was artistic. I always enjoyed subjects like creative writing, and I even started a Christmas card business when I was about 12 or 13. I’m not particularly great at sketching or painting, but I’ve always found other ways to channel my creativity.
My mum was a huge inspiration for me. She had a great sense of style and always encouraged my creativity. Losing her just over a year ago was very hard – I've had to work really hard to keep feeling inspired. I always create from a place of joy and being sad isn’t great for my work.
Today I’m inspired by my friends, my family and my husband. I love people’s stories and they’ve always inspired what I do. I like creating narratives through creative work, and my ceramics and homeware are really characterful – they tell a story all of their own and that’s so important to me.
I’ve been fortunate to have had careers that find me. I studied journalism at university – partly because I knew I wanted to be in the arts but just didn’t know what the possibilities were. With my fashion label I started to make things as a bit of a hobby then it quickly turned into a brand. During the pandemic, the same thing happened when I started taking ceramics lessons. There are actually a lot of synergies between fashion and homeware. Fashion gave me an incredible training in business and, while the pace of the homeware industry is more relaxed, I think I’ve found a nice middle ground now.
Travel has been another big inspiration for my work. Every place I’ve been to has informed my creativity in a different way. I spent a lot of time in the French countryside as a child. My parents would scour antique markets every week and bring things back to the UK to sell on. I learned so much from going with them – especially about different design periods from art deco to mid-century modern.
I collect Richard Bernstein Interview covers from the 70s and 80s. I just love his illustrations and style – each one is a tiny piece of pop culture history. I bought my first one because I loved the cover with a young Goldie Hawn, but I soon got lost in the contents, ad campaigns and interviews. The obsession and intersection between fashion, culture and celebrity was really just starting then. My most prized issue is the Debbie Harry cover – it’s signed by Andy Warhol and Truman Capote.
I’m not a big reader. But I love a good self-help book or spiritual guide. Eckhart Tolle’s The Power of Now really made me think about life. I also use Blinkist, this app which distils books down into 15-minute synopses. That probably shows how impatient I am!
Costume and set design in film is always a good source of inspiration. I’m a big fan of Baz Lurhmann – his films are so visually arresting and really transport you to another place. His Romeo & Juliet was huge for me growing up and I would often reference 90s teen movies in my fashion work. I love Clueless, Hackers and Empire Records.
My first job was working for Smash Hits magazine. I’m a cheesy pop tart at heart and we love to play 90s playlists in the studio. Luckily most of the team are around the same age. The last gig I went to was Lizzo, who was amazing.
Unfortunately, I’m not a great cook. We’re in the process of slowly renovating our house and I’m hoping a new kitchen will inspire me to be more creative in the kitchen. I’m more of a fan of eating out than cooking. If I were to have a signature dish, it would be spaghetti bolognese. My favourite restaurant is Brat on Redchurch Street – the food and cocktails are the best in London. The chef Tomos Parry is a friend and he’s unique in how he approaches ingredients.
There are so many different creative people I admire. I know first hand how challenging it can be as a professional creative, and how much you pour your heart and soul into every project. I love Es Devlin’s set design. As far as fellow potters or ceramists go, I love John Booth’s work and we have some of his ceramics at home – his use of colour is so playful. I also love Alma Berrow’s sense of humour and I’ve loved Christabel MacGreevy for a long time, so to see her move into ceramics is great – she has a new exhibition coming up that I’m excited to see. Finally, I’m a huge fan of Dirk Vander Kooij’s work. We have one of his Melting Pot dining tables and it was our first real investment in our home. The way he uses plastic waste materials is really inspiring.
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