“Finishing touches add character and individuality to a room, so they are fundamental in terms of what a room will feel like, not just look like.”
Have you always been passionate about the interiors industry?
My passion for Interiors actually predates my interest in the industry: Creating an environment that reflects my sense of elegance, interests and character has always been disproportionally important to me and is what led me to the interiors industry in my twenties. What is equally important to me is that we nurture a specialist savoir-faire in this country, and I am so pleased that Haute Deco was a precursor in this respect, setting-up our production in this country when everyone else was subcontracting to South-East Asia.
What was the inspiration behind setting up your own company- Haute Déco ?
The inspiration was to create a luxury brand in the niche market of door handles, “the haute couture of doorknobs” – which at the time was a pretty revolutionary concept
How important are finishing touches added to a room such as luxury handles?
Finishing touches add character and individuality to a room, so they are fundamental in terms of what a room will feel like, not just look like. Having said that, in my opinion luxury handles are much more than finishing touches. Visually they add texture and interest to a room; but in addition they are one of the elements of design that one comes into contact with on a daily basis. When the handles are especially beautiful or tactile, there is a sense of pleasure each time a handle is turned or pulled. But you need to have experienced it for yourself to understand how much difference it will make.
Do you feel smaller details are often overlooked?
This is one aspect which has changed a lot since we started out: There is a much greater understanding – at least by interior designers – of the potential for smaller details to add personality to a room; and equally that cabinet handles can make, or ruin for that matter, a beautiful piece of furniture. But a recurring problem is that choosing handles is often left to the last minute when they actually need to be considered early on in the project.
Tell us about the design of your contemporary handles, and what makes them unique
We are quite unique in the industry in that our handles are fashioned by hand in the design process, giving them a sculptural quality that you cannot achieve with CAD. Another defining factor is getting the detailing just right, as it is so easily overdone.
One of the reasons our clients find our handles special is to do with what I call effortless elegance, and I think that may be in part because they are designed by a woman, whereas the rest of the market is primarily dominated by men with a background in hardware.
What determines the design for different projects? Is it important to consider the space and design of the room?
The style of the room absolutely determines the choice of handles as you want the handles to complement the design scheme. The scale of the room determines what format of handles will work best – but as most of our handles are available in multiple formats that is not an issue.
What is your design process?
A lot of our work is texture-led and I have a permanent radar for texture and pattern. Generally I tend not to have a structured design process: rather I have sudden flashes of inspiration as to how something I have seen and stored in my mind can be turned into a handle. From that point onwards I will research materials, draw up specifications and get our workshop to produce an initial set of prototypes, which gets fine-tuned.
What have been some of your favourite handles you have made?
It’s hard to choose because I only design products I love and would have in my own house. But if I had to choose one collection it would have to be the Nappa doorknobs whereby a layer of crystal resin is cast around a disk of leather-textured bronze, turning the metal into almost liquid bronze. We have perfected a unique production process for this line which combines two of our specialist savoir-faire, and the effect is truly magical
Over the years you have worked alongside top interior designers, what have been some of the highlights, and your favourite collaborations/ projects?
The most satisfying projects happen when our handles are used on stunning furniture. But one of our frustrations is that we rarely see the finished product, because the projects we tend to work on are on very high-end, and clients are often extremely protective of the interiors.
Do you feel that luxury interiors and luxury design details are becoming more popular?
The current trend is for glamorous interiors with an abundance of luxury materials, which as been described as maximalist interiors. In terms of our handles, we have also seen a shift to the jewellery end of the spectrum, which have the most luxurious feel.
What would be your advice for other women who want to set up their own business?
- Don’t be afraid to go your own way
- Be true to yourself and to what you believe
- Never sign any contract you don’t fully understand
- Be very careful about who you partner with
Marie-Veronique – Founder of Haute Déco