Interview: Harry Clark

Five Minutes with...

Harry Clark of Harryclarkinterior; a renowned craftsman and interior designer across Europe delivering atmospheric spaces filled with character and authenticity.

What inspired you to become an interior designer?

Even as a child I instinctively understood the beauty of things in life: nature, gardens, architecture, music, art and literature, everything in which the human spirit showed its aesthetic and creative side. However, the environment I grew up in was quite the opposite. My desire to create beauty started at an early age. I was magically drawn to flowers and gardening. Piano-playing and drawing was my safe haven. Creating harmonic and aesthetic spaces was of great importance for me. All my life I have seen a much deeper psychological and sensual aspect in it all. Interior design turns an environment into a space in which you will feel comfortable and protected; a space you shape with your own character, where you can harmonise your needs with those of others.

When starting a new project, where do you draw your inspiration from?

With every new project, I first analyse the architecture and its surroundings. Unless you start on a complete blank canvas, which one hardly ever does, I sensualize my clients to see the space with all its framework. I draw my inspiration from the given environment, not only what you can see inside the space, but also outside. Are there trees, buildings, water? What colours, what shapes can you see? How does the outer environment reflect into the space? Most importantly it is to understand my clients desires and wishes and their possible approach. Once absorbed I then can translate all information into a design concept.

Is there a colour palette that you have enjoyed working with recently?

For me colours are the nuts and bolts of interior design. Their interaction is like the collaboration between singers in an opera production. I draw my colour inspiration from nature and definitely prefer chalky, dusty tones, whether strong or pastel doesn’t really matter. My last two projects, in London and now in Vienna, have two complete opposite colour schemes: the first concept was conceived in elegant, muted and soft natural tones, the latter mixed with strong, powerful and contrasting colours. However, both schemes create a fluent and elegant atmosphere, with each room interacting with another in harmony.

A project is a real journey from start to finish. What would you say is your favourite stage of the design process?

Apart from the final results of a project, I very much enjoy the stage when all aspects of colour scheme and materials come together for the first time. Most clients are surprised that it all works together in harmony, however contrasting and contradictive it seemed at first draft. So, the design process is not only a matter of nice drawings and drafts, but far more it is built on mutual trust and strong believe in each other capacities.

You have completed projects across Europe including Berlin, London, Paris, Hannover, and more. How does each city inform your design process and approach?

Not only the famous landmarks define a city. Each has its own identity, vibrations and atmosphere which can be detected through your eyes, ears, touch and also smell. It is vital to catch these vibrations; maybe by looking at their history, maybe by walking the streets, maybe by talking to their inhabitants. The light and its reflection is definitely different in London, Paris, or Berlin. Therefore, it is vital to catch the spirit of the space, the materials, whether being used or available. As you can associate a certain style with certain cities it is important not to alienate a new design too much from the background of the city.

You recently ordered our lovely Silk Velvet, do you mind us asking how you used this fabric?

Some time ago I spotted this couple of Pier Luigi Colli stools, finest brass ornate 40s midcentury style and definitely not for the faint-hearted. They desperately needed reupholstering with something really classy and chic, preferably velvet. Naturally Chase Erwin’s silk velvet sprang into my mind instantly to give those stools back their essence and style. The upholsterer though was so intimidated by the quality and beauty of the fabrics that he fearfully never even started the required job in months. Finally, I gave them to another company who did a very fine job.

Can you tell us little about a project you’re working in at the moment?

I have been working on a refurbishment of a large 19th century appartement in Vienna since February. Initially it started as an interior design concept with colour scheme and soft furnishing. However, after having seen the space twice, I convinced the owners that their apartment needed more than a few touches of well-meant interior advice. The space had been voided its historical identity and former grandeur over the past decade. A lot of features had irrevocably gone. I decided to basically strip the space back to its core and start all over again. A completely new interior planning and use of space is on its way now: new electrics, new door heights, new floorings, new bathrooms, kitchen, library and other built-in furniture designs. It is now on its way to become an elegant mix of historical and modern elements. I am looking forward to the next stage of planning and working with the soft furnishings to finalize the authentic and auratic presence of the entire space.

And finally, what would you say is your favourite Chase Erwin fabric of all time?

Now this IS a difficult question… In my last project in London I worked with a lot of Chase Erwin fabrics, simply because they are just gorgeous. To name one of them is ‘Rocco’ with which I had a large sofa upholstered. I always have been mostly impressed by the mohair and silk velvets, their luscious exquisite quality, their elegant nuances of colour. Pewter, Dove, Mink or Ivory,… I just cannot decide.