Heal’s certainly needs no introduction, it’s a bit of an interiors staple isn’t it? For me, Heal’s equates to quality, modernist, cutting edge design, but it was actually founded in 1810, the year that George III was declared insane and Jane Austin wrote Sense and Sensibility. Over 200 years ago!
John Harris Heal opened the first store at 33 Rathbone Place, London. Introducing feather filled mattresses to the UK market was at the time revolutionary, it also meant it was farewell and “so long” to the straw equivalents of the period. Since then Heal’s has continued to push design boundaries, help shape the UK design landscape, with John’s great great grandson, Ambrose Heal championing Arts and Crafts design in the 1900’s (referred to as prison furniture at the time).
Ambrose Heal continued to shake up the interior market completely by introducing Bauhaus design influences during a time when UK homes were stuck in the period of heavy, brown Edwardian furniture
The ‘Owl Cabinet’ designed by Ambrose Heal in 1904
“Never afraid of ruffling a few feathers, one man was determined to import this new ‘international style’ into the nation’s homes. Through a series of exhibitions entitled ‘Modern Tendencies’… Ambrose Heal set about showcasing what was for many visitors their first taste of modernist tubular furniture.”
Ambrose Heal celebrated and introduced the Bauhaus movement to the UK in the 1930’s
In 1933, Ambrose Heal’s contribution and love of design is recognised when he is knighted for raising British design standards in 1933. How cool is that? Imagine having that listed as one of your life’s achievements!
This extraordinary work of the Bauhaus continued to influence the following generations of designers, not least the furniture and homewares on display at Heal’s. If it wasn’t for this ground-breaking work and people such as Sir Ambrose Heal flying the flag, i’m certain designers such as Tom Dixon, Hay and Ligne Rosset wouldn’t be such a huge part of the UK’s interiors vocabulary.
I have used a fair few pieces from Heal’s over the years, both in our own home and in client projects, so I was super proud to be collaborating with them on the lighting for our bedroom redesign.
The Ligne Roset Bloom Pendant as featured in a remote design project in Munich. A French design classic, specified by a British interior designer (that’s me) for a family in Germany. How very continental!
Our own sofa, the Heal’s Club sofa purchased back in 2012;
It is the most comfortable sofa ever, it’s super deep at over 100cm so you can easily get two people lying down on here. Still as comfy as it was when we first bought it, surviving the past five years of being jumped on by our six year old. Unfortunately it’s a nightmare to get a decent photo of.
The Heal’s Brunel range was used in this bedroom project I worked on last year and a photo was kindly shared on by Heal’s earlier this year:
Our dining room light was also a Heal’s splurge. I love it now as much as I did then. And that’s the beauty of good design, it’s not trend driven, it consistently delivers, so whilst it might cost more to purchase, it will draw your eye and make you smile for years to come. An investment.
Our kitchen pendant light purchased from Heal’s in 2012
This excitedly brings me onto the latest design addition to the chez Making Spaces as part of the Nude Bedroom redesign:
As part of our bedroom update, I was looking to find ways to add softness whilst keeping a linear element. After trying the Bubble light on the moodboard I was sold. Nothing else I looked at had the same presence or sense of “lightness” I was looking for:
Nude Bedroom – Moodboard
An assortment of lights in various spherical silhouettes, the Nelson Bubble Lamps add a touch of softness and luminosity to interiors. Designed by George Nelson in 1952, these elegant fixtures are fashioned from a sturdy, lightweight steel frame yet have a delicate, floating quality.
Nelson was inspired by a set of silk-covered Swedish hanging lamps that he wanted to acquire for his office, but he found the price to be prohibitive. An ingenious and resourceful designer, he went on to create the first set of Nelson Bubble Lamps using a translucent white plastic spray, a technique developed by the US military at the time. Nelson drew from elemental, organic shapes in making variations like the Apple Bubble Pendant and the Saucer Pendant Lamp, among others.
George Nelson celebrating his success with a cheeky smoke.
These lights are as relevant today as the were nearly 65 years ago, and that’s the difference between classic design and trends. The Bubble lights are timeless in their simplicity.
As part of this collaboration, I was very kindly gifted one of the Bubble Ball Pendant lights for our bedroom. I know! I had to pinch myself when it arrived. Even harder when it was hanging in our room!
I will be taking A LOT of photos when the room is finally finished and sharing all of the brands i’ve worked with in the Nude Room final reveal post. But for now, it’s fair to say, i’m absolutely smitten with this stunning piece of design history hanging in our bedroom.
So here’s to Heal’s for introducing revolutionary design to a whole generation of British homes including that of my clients and my own three bed semi – long may their legacy continue!
Do you own or have your eye on any design classics? Is there a design you just keep going back to? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.
Heal’s very kindly agreed to gift me the George Nelson Bubble Light as part of the redesign of the Nude Bedroom. All words and opinions are my own, always. I only ever work with brands I love and think you will love too.
All archive images courtesy of Heal’s.