Yachting Pages spoke to Jamie Horton, managing director of Harlequin London, one of the world’s premier suppliers of tableware, glassware and interior accessories, to discuss the latest trends in luxury yacht interiors and tableware.
For over 15 years the company has worked hard to source tableware for the discerning client, the brand stocks 120 internationally recognised brands to meet the interior design needs of private homes, luxury jets, superyachts and much more.
When was your business founded? How did it come about?
I founded Harlequin was founded in June 1998, having previously served as an officer in a medium reconnaissance cavalry regiment in the British Army, with postings in West Germany and The Gulf.
I left the army and having been involved in property development and latterly working for a company supplying Limoges porcelain to top London retail shops, I felt there was a market specialising in the supply of luxury tableware to interior designers and their clients. Harlequin was started in my dining room at home in Balham.
How has the business developed over the years?
The first few years saw rapid growth, and it became clear there really was a market to be developed. Further research indicated a real need for specialism in luxury design service, whereby Harlequin really became involved in each project, with a particular emphasis on sourcing unusual luxury goods and combining them creatively to produce a unique finished selection relevant to each project brief.
What makes Harlequin unique? How does it differ from its competitors?
It is important to distinguish between Harlequin’s design service, and something our competitors have or provide.
Our service is free of charge, and there is no obligation to place your order with us, although in most cases, clients do. In addition to the design aspect of our business, there is also a fully bespoke option available.
Does Harlequin offer a worldwide service? Can you ship to remote places?
Most certainly, we supply anywhere in the world, which is an absolute must considering we have many yachts on our books.
What would you say are the popular trends and products in your market at the moment?
2014 saw dark blues as an important colour, and bold geometrics in pattern. We have seen this progress into 2015 with a much more sophisticated palette of lighter blues and turquoises, with geometrics becoming subtler with a number of designers moving toward Greek key design.
Do you have any favourite products?
There are too many to really single out, but we are seeing more well made silver products being launched with some incredible techniques involved.
Working in the superyacht industry, you must receive a wide range of requests. Can you share any examples?
A question that is so often asked and is always answered in the same way - each yacht is different and each has its own brief, which often has decisive input from the owners. Therefore each is different, and as such, there is not really any specific request.
That said we are often asked for help by chief stewards/stewardesses when they have been asked to source something specific or to find replacements for damaged or broken goods.
What are the current challenges that Harlequin is facing within the industry?
This needs to be split into two answers; one for the designers and owners, and the other for those operating the yachts.
Designing schemes that are different, exciting and new for interior designers and their clients is becoming more and more demanding. It is a great challenge for us to continue to produce inspirational ideas, but this is what we do. Whilst challenging, it always happens and each project goes through an evolutionary design process, which is both fun and hugely rewarding.
The greatest challenges for staff are where and how the goods we supply are safely stowed on board a yacht.
Is Harlequin planning to attend any boat shows?
We regularly visit boat shows, but do not exhibit ourselves at them. It is important to keep up the exterior as well as interior aspects of yacht design as this has a great impact on what schemes are put together for the interior.
Was Harlequin badly affected by the recession?
The recession affected all companies in one way or another, but fortunately for us the top end of our industry was, and has, remained resilient, so no.
What do you enjoy most about your job? Who would be your dream client?
I enjoy seeing a happy client that keeps coming back to us for each new project they have, and a dream client would be someone who really pushes the boundaries on design and is not afraid to try new things.
Finally, is there anything that people don’t know that you would like to announce?
Our sales teams regularly visit trade shows and factories, and so their knowledge and skill set is highly developed, up to date and has real depth. It is there waiting to be utilised by anyone who wants to find the best tableware, decorative accessories and lighting available in our industry today.
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