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Courtesy of S. Harris.

S. Harris Weaves Surreal Luxury with Design en Rogue

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S. Harris has launched “Design en Rogue,” a new textile series created in partnership with leading artists and designers. The inaugural collection was made in partnership with New York-based photographer Joanna McClure, known for her moody, dreamy, and luminous still lifes. Her textiles evoke the intricate Art Deco luxury and heady Surrealist experimentation of the Modernist 1920s and ’30s. In her words, the opportunity to curate and shoot the “Design en Rogue” collection enabled her to “explore the symbiotic relationship that exists between still life photography and interiors,” blurring the lines between designing a space to photograph and a space in which to live. The project is spearheaded by Jodi Finer, a third-generation owner of S. Harris. As its creative director, she continues the firm’s century-long legacy by conceiving of the built environment as a means to express creative genius and incorporate technological development.

Whitewall spoke with McClure and Finer about the origins of “Design en Rogue,” its influences, and future projects.

Courtesy of S. Harris.

Courtesy of S. Harris.

WHITEWALL: Jodi, what was the starting point for this project? How did you connect with Joanna? 

JODI FINER: We wanted to create a way to break the mold of traditional collection launches and build a new path for what felt intuitive to the brand and our process. Joanna came recommended by someone on our team as a multifaceted, thoughtful, and experimental photographer.

WW: Joanna, what about still-life photography attracts you? What sparked your interest in early-20th-century modernism?

JOANNA MCCLURE: Still life photography is an endlessly creative art form—the ability to let something sit and come back to it allows you to ponder the image in a way that you can’t with other forms of photography that include the human form. It allows for a sense of time and place, and experimentation with material that really suits my style.

Courtesy of S. Harris.

Courtesy of S. Harris.

WW: The pandemic has revolutionized the time and mode in which people engage with their built environments. How has this influenced the direction of S. Harris?

JF: We think about home in a completely new way. It is an extension of our self-expression, how we want to live, and what creates meaning in our lives. The products we design must be intentional and progressive, even if they are collected from the past. Our brand has been informed by products that spark emotion, connection, and intention.

WW: Both of your work aims to engender a greater awareness in the audience of the interdependence of inner selves with their material world, and the Surrealist emphasis on visual expression through emotion is the perfect conduit for this. What do you hope that this awareness will bring about?

JF: I hope that these works of art will reflect parts of their viewers which they want to discover and bring into being.

JM: A sense of the present moment, and the importance of paying attention to what you surround yourself with—be it an object, a person, or your own thoughts.

Courtesy of S. Harris.

Courtesy of S. Harris.

WW: What drives your choice of material? 

JF: How it feels “on” my eyes.

JM: The subject of the photograph usually dictates it. The personality of the object in the frame often sparks an idea about what the material should be.

WW: What inspired the color palette?

JF: Femininity, first and foremost. This, coupled with ethereal, livable, and soft jewel tones, juxtaposed with heavier, rich hues of Americana.

JM: I was looking for a way to convey a sense of peace and balance with the color. The bright patterns are offset with the more neutral weight of some of the basic tones.

Courtesy of S. Harris.

Courtesy of S. Harris.

WW: Throughout its history, S. Harris has always utilized technological development in its creations. Where has technological innovation played the most dominant role in this collection (e.g. in the design or use aspect of your planning)?

JF: Most importantly, the collection was inspired by the possibilities that exist when we move outside of the way we live day-to-day and explore what is now possible. Technological advancement in society has affected a vast majority of our population as we are living through what is now known as the 4th industrial digital revolution. Our AI-inspired patterns like “Pixel Velvet” are an example of how an age-old craft like weaving can be brought into the future. We also got the opportunity to experiment with Joanna’s new creative collaboration platform, Together Now.

Courtesy of S. Harris.

Courtesy of S. Harris.

WW: The vivid, gemlike colors in this collection are always balanced by earthy, grounding fabrics. What directs your thinking in striking this balance when first beginning a design?

JF: Buying for an eclectic customer who wants to create a starting point on a project using our textiles. We want to inspire and excite people.

WW: What feelings do you hope that this inaugural collection of “Design en Rogue” will evoke?

JF: The opportunity to fully embrace your whole creative self. The belief that, if you have a mind, you are creative. I believe that the journey is about finding the medium that feeds your soul.

JM: For my capsule collection: a youthful joy, a sense of balance, a tactile curiosity.

Courtesy of S. Harris.

Courtesy of S. Harris.

WW: Jodi, what future direction do you have in mind for “Design en Rogue”? 

JF: We are open to everything which comes our way and are deeply inspired by history, perception, culture (fashion, music, and the arts), and the natural environment.

WW: Joanna, what upcoming photography projects are you working on?

JM: Currently, I am balancing my commercial clients with a personal project that I hope to finish by early next year—a photo book which involves my daughter as different characters. I am also working alongside S. Harris on a line of wall coverings utilizing photography, which I am very excited about.

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Kelly Wearstler

THE WINTER EXPERIENCE ISSUE
2023

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