Mad About . . .

Dressing Heal’s Window Part II

8th February 2018

If you follow me on instagram you will know that last week I was invited back to Heal’s to dress one of their windows following a similar project last summer. Only this time I was to be promoted. This time I (and my fellow window-dresser Tiffany Grant-Riley) were asked to decorate the huge windows on either side of the entrance to the Tottenham Court Road store.

heals window showing the brunel range, photo by Victoria Erdelevskaya

Heals window showing the Brunel range, photo by Victoria Erdelevskaya

Iconic is an over-used word, but I think, in this case, it is perhaps justified when it comes to this particular store. One of the best-known and best-loved furniture stores in London,  Heal’s was established in 1810 to supply bedding and run as a family business until 1993.

It has always championed British design and many of the store’s early designs were by Ambrose Heal himself, a leading member of the arts and craft movement and founding member of the Design and Industries Association, whose slogan was Nothing Need Be Ugly.

window dressing at Heals photo by me

The designer Lucienne Day was one of the early designers for the fabric department – her 1951 Calyx design has been re-issued – and more recently the store has worked with Russell Pinch, who designed his first bed for them, as well as Matthew Hilton and Tom Raffield and it sells all the classics from Anglepoise to Ercol.

In addition to well-made furniture by up and coming designers, Heal’s has also adopted the slogan Great Design at a Great Price. And that is where Tiffany and I came in. We were asked to showcase two ranges from the store; Morten and Brunel.

 Heals window showing the Brunel range, photo by Victoria Erdelevskaya

Heals window showing the Brunel range, photo by Victoria Erdelevskaya

I was asked to work with Brunel – an industrial range with a mid-century vibe which is perfect for those with small spaces. For example you can create a modular sofa with a footstool and an L-shaped cushion but you can simply swap the cushion and stool to the other end if you need to sofa to face the other way if you move house.

The range also includes shelves that can simply lean against the wall without needing to be fixed as well as a desk that could later be a dressing table and a dining table that comes with a space-saving bench.

Heals window showing the Brunel range, photo by Victoria Erdelevskaya

Heals window showing the Brunel range, photo by Victoria Erdelevskaya

It was designed by Rob Scarlett, who was named Young Designer of the year at the New Design Awards in 2003 and was immediately spotted by Heal’s. He went on to open his own studio, Scarlett Design, 2010 and his range for Heal’s is one of their best-selling.

I was given a long space, as you can see from the images above, in which to showcase the whole range. I chose to imagine it as a small open-plan apartment with the dining table in the middle to divide sleeping from sitting and with the table doubling up as desk and dining.

Heals window showing the Morten range, photo by Victoria Erdelevskaya

Tiffany worked with the Morten range, also designed exlcusively for Heal’s by John Jenkins, and which has a more pared-back Scandinavian feel to it which is very in keeping with Tiff’s minimal aesthetic. You can read all about her design on her blog Curate & Display tomorrow (Friday 9 February).

The windows will be there for the rest of the month but the whole of the front showroom features well-prices pieces so if you’re passing by do drop in. You never know what you might find.

window at heals photo by me

window at heals photo by me

 

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  • GoMovies 10th February 2018 at 4:13 am

    Love the window styling and the pink background!

  • Heal's Window Styling For A Scandinavian Apartment – Curate & Display 9th February 2018 at 6:02 am

    […] On the other side of the window, Kate’s mid-century industrial apartment took on warm tones of terracotta and pink. The Brunel collection, designed by Rob Scarlett is fully adaptable and ideal for small spaces with freestanding, leaning shelving and a modular sofa. Find out more about Kate’s process over on her blog, Mad About The House. […]

  • Jennifer 8th February 2018 at 3:25 pm

    Don’t understand why Harriet has to “ leap to the defence of Heal’s” maybe she’s been lucky not to have been disappointed with their customer service as I and one of my friends also have been.
    Come on Heal’s, live up to your old reputation.
    Well done KATE for the window display, love your column and look forward to reading it daily.

  • Harriet 8th February 2018 at 1:54 pm

    I have to say I’ve always had superb customer service from Heal’s – the only time it ever went wrong was when I was sent some cutlery which had the wrong sized forks (I know, terrible ain’t it!). When I pointed this out, they arranged for a courier (and I’m not in London) to pick them up and deliver the correct ones. They were also hugely apologetic and I was very impressed. John Lewis on the other hand, used to have fantastic customer service but in my experience it has been really shoddy of late.

  • Corinne 8th February 2018 at 12:36 pm

    Love the window display, love your blog – guess I’m lucky not to be doing any custom with Heals though. What a shame for your readers/fans above

  • Gerry Rust 8th February 2018 at 11:32 am

    Whilst there is absolutely no excuse for poor customer service and it is the equivalent of retail suicide in this competitive market, in terms of the lines that Heal’s stock there will be one overriding consideration and it’s called supply and demand. Most retailers, whether large or small, need to sell what the majority of their customers want, at the price they are prepared to pay for it – not what a minority thinks they ought to want, at prices that only a few can afford. If that means hairpin legs and cheaper lamps from China then so be it. The clue was in the words their ‘best selling range’ and I imagine the quality is considerably better than the ‘cheap brands’ or eBay. If a long established and highly regarded store like Heal’s has decided to ‘blend in with everyone else’ it will be for economic reasons, put simply they either do so or die out. If whatever the opposite of the ‘lowest common denominator of client’ is had been adequately supporting the shop, they would have continued to cater for them – for all I know they still do.
    Great window display Kate!

  • Susan 8th February 2018 at 9:42 am

    I have to agree with Racy a bit. Furthermore, their customer service, delivery and responsiveness is beyond appalling. After three total failures trying to buy something from them: one item was perpetually delayed with no details of when it would ship (yet John Lewis ended up having it in stock and delivering next day when I gave up with Heal’s); an order of dishes lost in their store that I had to collect in person (and the only person who could help locate them was in the lighting department); and the last straw was a bed delivered with pieces of the frame missing. At the prices they charge, the terribleness of their customer service is simply inexcusable. I used to love Heal’s and while they still carry some nice products, I will no longer shop there. Even if they have some very lovely window displays.

  • Tessa 8th February 2018 at 9:19 am

    Love the pink background….what is the colour Kate

  • Harriet 8th February 2018 at 9:08 am

    I feel I must leap to the defence of Heal’s and to the wonderful windows you’ve done, Kate. Bravo to both!
    Love so many elements of this – the way the Marimekko dotty cup speaks to the rugs, the nonchalant way the Eleanor Pritchard blanket brings all the bedding together in the blue room, the pendant light cluster in the other bedroom, while the sitting room is just a brilliant updating of Midcentury, the pink of the moment not too girly. I’d move in if I could (do you think Heal’s would notice?)

    It’s interesting that Racy thinks Heal’s has gone downmarket – I’d view it differently – I think they’ve just become more wide-ranging (you’re not telling me that Tom Raffield is cheap and nasty are you?). When I first encountered Heals’s some 25 years ago in my early twenties, all I could afford were a couple of flowerpots (which I still have, can I just say). It all felt prohibitive, but now it’s much more egalitarian. I love the fact that they champion young talented designers and I still think they’re making classics of the future. And hairpin legs don’t have to be a bad thing – they’ve been gracing furniture since the early forties and when well made are both sturdy and airy. A perfect combo of form and function.

  • Racy 8th February 2018 at 8:04 am

    I used to love Heal’s top quality, beautifully designed pieces, they really stood out from the crowd. These days their designs no longer stand out and they seem to be designing for the lowest common denominator of client, like so many other interior retailers on the market. Sadly also now, the majority of their lighting seems to be made in China and is awful quality. I bought two brass stick lamps with a round marble base and the sticks are so wonky I’ve hand to bend the lamp shade right out of shape to get it to look straight. I then went in store and almost all of their other lamps had the same problem. It’s such a shame that we demand lots of stuff for cheap because retailers are responding by offering sub standard tat made cheaply. Is that a table with hair pin legs I spy in the window? Really Heal’s, you are (or were) better than to offer hair pin legs! We have countless cheap brands for that not to mention hoards on eBay offering the same. Where is the design element in this? A plank of wood and screw in some bog standard hairpin legs. There is no design or consideration. Please do something a little more inspiring. Heal’s used to be renowned for an unusal join or finish or interesting edging or slight unexpected quirk in their furniture, now they just blend in with everyone else. Such a shame.

    • Jennifer Probyn 8th February 2018 at 10:30 am

      Don’t understand why Harriet has to “ leap to the defence of Heal’s” maybe she’s been lucky not to have been disappointed with their customer service as I and one of my friends also have also been.
      Come on Heal’s, live up to your old reputation.
      Well done KATE for the window display, love your column and look forward to reading it daily.

  • beth dadswell 8th February 2018 at 7:31 am

    Love your window styling Kate!!

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