Holland & Sherry was founded in London in 1836 by two wool merchants Stephen Holland and Frederick Sherry. The brand later moved to Savile Row, where the apparel division remains today. Holland & Sherry Interiors began in 1998 and now has showrooms across the globe. With her background in interior design Kate Consiglio worked at De Sousa Hughes in San Francisco, where she sold Holland & Sherry products and first met the company’s president Bryan Dicker. While working for a rug firm in Miami she fell in love with carpets and worked with designers Doug & Gene Meyer on developing flooring collections. At that time her husband Wayne Consiglio was a freelance graphic designer and he soon became involved in the rug designing process. In 2011, Dicker invited Kate and Wayne to join the H&S New York team and soon they found themselves developing the company’s rug division. As Creative Director, Wayne works on design development and collaborations while Kate focuses on sales and staff training and travels around the H&S showrooms to understand where rug design directions should be heading. Lucy Upward talks in depth with the duo about Holland & Sherry’s diverse rug programme in COVER 56:
In terms of ranges of rugs, what does Holland & Sherry offer customers? We specialise in bespoke custom handmade rugs. Primarily, our products vary from Tibetan knot, Persian knot, hand-tufted and flatweaves. We also have many speciality products to complete a full range of custom products. Our approach is to focus on custom and provide a variety of premium qualities, fibres and knot counts that can supply our clients the opportunity to work with us, to create rugs that fit into their aesthetic, lifestyle and budget. Holland & Sherry is known for bespoke product offerings which includes rugs, embroidery, wallpaper, hardware and more. Our staff are extremely educated in custom and our goal is to not be considered a vendor but to become a business partner.
Where do you source rugs from? We have partners primarily in Nepal, India, Europe and Asia. It is important to us that we work with skilled mills and artisans that can create quality rugs that are specific to their weaving skills, and use their country’s unique fibres. We acquired Elizabeth Eakins Rugs in 2018 and with Elizabeth and her team’s combined forty years of knowledge in the industry, she has continued to provide beautiful rugs that are complementary to our own, while maintaining craftsmanship globally.
Is there a relationship between the fabric and rug divisions? Our creative directors all communicate and discuss what the other division is designing and conduct monthly design meetings to share ideas. Our main launches are in September and in January during Paris Déco Off. September is used for recolours of existing designs and the January collection is traditionally a comprehensive collection that includes all of our products, including rugs, fabric, embroidery, wallpaper, leather, trim and hardware. Our 2020 launch for Paris is inspired by our heritage that began on Savile Row in London providing the world’s best cloth since 1836.
Which collections are most successful? While we do have some designs that have been selected more than others, our approach to custom means that we start with a current design, then by working with the client we may change aspects of that design or take elements from another, add texture and colour and fibres and then create something completely bespoke and unique. Favourite designs include Beijing Grille from the Voyager Collection, Halcyon from Modern Legacy, Ocean Ikat by Victoria Hagan, Sakura by Galbraith & Paul and Amber by Doug & Gene Meyer.
How many rug designers do you have? Currently the design team consists of Wayne Consiglio as the Creative Director and Monika Baskiewicz, who also works on custom designs. We work together as a team. I (Kate) travel to our showrooms regularly and provide feedback as to the contents and designs that each territory is responding to. When it comes to final selections for a collection, it can start with the designs and develop over time with input on materials until we reach a final collection. Outside of our collections, we are often approached to commission completely bespoke designs that we are able to produce based on an idea from a client, from a family crest to a companion to a museum-quality art piece.
How often do you work on collaborations with outside designers? Eric Hilton was one of Holland & Sherry’s first interior clients and has contributed some of the more timeless designs in the collection. We have had a close relationship with Doug & Gene Meyer, who designed two collections with us when we started the division, and we continue to work with them on new collections each year. Victoria Hagan has been a partner and client of ours for numerous years and we introduced her first collection in 2012. While Galbraith & Paul had a previous rug collection under their own name, having had a relationship with them we partnered to create a new rug collection in 2014, enhancing the best parts of their beautiful hand block-printed fabric. Our upcoming new collaborative collection with Joni Vanderslice of J. Banks in 2020 will introduce new qualities for boutique hotels and residential enabling us to value engineer price points for hospitality. Our design collaborators are part of the H&S family. Each is extremely talented and their collections are unique and a true reflection of the collaborative process.
Do you have a favourite quality or material to work with? When you are immersed and work with beautiful artisans and partners across the globe, it is hard to pick a favourite. We really like the natural feel, look and performance of Allo plant fibre, mixed with silk and Himalayan wool from Nepal. We also appreciate the antique appearance and density of a well-woven Persian knot from Jaipur, India. If it is not a favourite of ours it does not make it into any collection. We are continually looking for new fibres, blends, textures, and qualities that we can mix together to produce a look that has not yet been seen quite like the way we have done it.
What do you see being popular with customers at the moment? Many designers and clients are looking for a bit more colour than they have in the past few years, but they are still attracted to incorporating natural fibres to the mix, beyond just wool and silk. Performance is another popular request across all of our showrooms. Most clients are really seeking good quality custom products for their clients—‘Subtle Luxury’. They are looking for something that is custom made for them, that will not be replicated in the same way for another client. In terms of colour trends, sensual, warm neutrals are popular; rich biological colours such as deep greens and browns, spices like turmeric and cinnamon and spearmint.
Is sustainability a consideration? Absolutely. Many clients will ask ‘how sustainable your product?’ Our hand-knotted rugs are woven in completely the same way they were hundreds of years ago: from the hand-carding of the yarns to hand-dyeing of the fibres, then the hand-weaving process. We get asked this question often and outside of the plane or boat fuel that it takes to get it to the USA, it is a completely sustainable product. Our hope, as with that of our competitors in this field, is to continue to educate, promote and appreciate this craft, so the tradition and beauty can continue to live on.
Are there any future changes in demand that are you expecting? With the explosion of technology and access, it’s never been easier to expose oneself to a multitude of designs and products. Having access to everything has also created a new challenge to interior designers and architects. While rugs and other interior products may make a great Instagram photo, it is not representative of what the product is in reality—unless you are working with a reputable interior designer. The challenges we face include educating our clients on the differences of quality and the work that our weavers do to create these one-of-a-kind pieces of art that can be walked on.
We would rather turn away an order not suited for the right space based on fibre and weave structure than ruin an opportunity to have a client be a partner with us long term. Our clients know our sales staff are educated on our products and can provide them with the best quality for their client needs. We look forward to doing as much work for the designer as possible, so they can focus on designing and managing their projects and leave the details of custom to us.
How do you present rugs in your showrooms? We have 17 showrooms and most of them have completely different shapes and sizes. We work within the space that we have to balance our own Holland & Sherry products and also provide a space to our representative lines. The concept of our H&S showrooms is to provide designers and their clients the opportunity to sit down, spread out and work. We would like clients to feel at home when they visit our showrooms and see our rugs in different settings. Doing so allows us to quickly respond to each client and begin to work toward a product that will meet every need, whether it be design, quality, budget or lead time with the best quality and fibres available.
Can you tell me about any new collections coming soon? New designs will come from Doug & Gene Meyer, Galbraith & Paul, and we will launch a capsule collection with J. Banks/Joni Vanderslice from Hilton Head Island, South Carolina.