Big Interview with Joanna Hauptman

Joanna Hauptman, Co-founder at Hyde House, shares an insight into her bespoke furniture company, how she began her journey into the furnishings industry and what she would change to help bring through new and young talent.

Let’s start with you. Can you share a bit about yourself and your background?

I studied Graphic Design at university and pursued a career in high end fashion which was my passion working in publishing – for over ten years I worked with brands such as Harvey Nichols, and Harpers Bazaar and Esquire. My client roster was the creme de la creme of the fashion world from Chanel to Louis Vuitton, Fendi and Prada to name but a few and traversed all luxury goods.

What is your current job role and key responsibilities?

I am Managing Director of Hyde House Bespoke Furniture – a company I set up 17 years ago with my business partner Richard Searle. I design bespoke furniture, oversee marketing, strategy, PR and frankly day to day ‘firefighting’ that is the cut and thrust of a high-end luxury furniture production company supplying trade clients such as interior designer, specifiers and developers.

What do you love about your job?

I love the process of furniture design from conception to completion – I still get a buzz from seeing recently completed items of furniture come out of our workshop and how they transform and elevate an interior once delivered to our valued customers.

What time is your alarm clock set for?

I wake up at 7am – get dressed, walk the dog and then commence work at 8am when I feel I am at my most productive and least distracted. This is when Richard and I will run through the issues and tasks for the day ahead before the team start work at 9am.

Why did you choose to work in the furnishing industry?

It happened organically since I always worked in fashion and design but when I designed and built my first home over 18 years ago – I discovered a passion for interiors and a chance meeting with Richard who was a third-generation furniture craftsman himself. I asked him to manufacture some pieces I had designed for my own home which he thankfully agreed to do and it was the beginning of a journey that inspired me to set up my own business. The combination of Richard’s technical craftsmanship and my passion for design and detail has been a wild punt that thankfully has paid off in spades.

Who do you most admire in the industry and why?

I have great admiration for Peter Mikic and Studio Vero who both push the envelope in interior design with intelligent, though provoking, challenging and original interiors that are never the same and always truly distinctive in nature.

Have there been any special moments during your career?

Yes, reaching our 10 years anniversary was a very touching moment – it has felt like a challenging climb to establish ourselves as one the leading manufacturers to trade in the industry and we celebrated by sponsoring bags and benches at Decorex and with a collaboration with Laura Hammett, Staffan Tollgard and Honky which made me enormously proud. To know we are respected and valued by our peers was extremely flattering.

What is your favourite item of furniture you own and why?

I think anything we manufacture in Resinate (TM) our patented furniture finishing system. This was a passion project from the start – I developed this process whilst tinkering in our workshop and I am incredibly excited about this innovation and the many applications it has.

What do you think is trending within the industry at present?

I think soft shapes, organic textures and generally a return to a ‘cosier’ aesthetic is certainly in vogue but I also see a return to maximalism (swags and tail curtains, hand carved timber seating frames, complex marquetry) particularly after the recent run of mid-century influenced design. Colour has also made a comeback – as shown in our recent Miami Collection launched at Decorex and LDW – showcasing a soft and enticing range in pastel macaroon pinks, blues and eau di nils.

What would you change in the industry?

I would make it more inclusive to the upcoming talent and the younger designers who may feel it’s like a closed private members club and it that it is a small but very guarded community. Having said that, I value greatly the wonderful people I have met and the relationships that have been nurtured with my fellow manufacturers in the industry.

Can you share an insight into your future plans?

I aim to expand and grow our global position; we are keen to make inroads into the States and potentially develop further strategic partnerships and collaborations with like-minded brands. Hyde House represents the best of British luxury furniture design and we are keen to take this message across the globe and develop more inroads into the private yacht industry.

What do you enjoy most outside of work / free time?

Spending time with my children, family and friends is paramount. I am a very social person and I love eating and drinking out – London is abuzz with many new hot spots and I am always intrigued to try. Particularly if I am in the process of designing a new collection since you never know where your next inspiration will come from. As far as Food & Beverage is concerned – design has become so much more important and standards raised significantly in the restaurant scene – it’s exciting to see what’s being rolled out.

What might someone not know about you?

That I probably suffer from a touch of ADHD – my energy is boundless and I can multi task brilliantly – I can even do 14-hour work day without feeling shattered!

If you had a different career, what would it be?

I would probably return to fashion, my first love although interiors is in my blood now… I can’t think of working in any other area!

Finally, if you were an item of furniture, what would it be and why?

I guess a bespoke cocktail cabinet because it houses my favourite thing… Cocktails! and is often very luxurious in finish, it’s a brilliant opportunity to design a future heirloom furniture piece that is going to be a talking point in any scheme or interior but always the source of a wonderful social gathering and the beginning of a great and indulgent night. Entertaining brings people together and the start of a memorable evening begins with a well-designed cocktail cabinet or bar.

Five Fun qs:

If you could hack into any one computer, whose computer would you choose and why?

Rather than a computer – I would have loved to hack into Zahid Hadid’s brain to understand where she got inspiration and how she developed her brilliant vision.

What fact amazes you every time you think of it?

Coco Chanel designed clothes over a century ago that one would happily wear today and look totally current and fashionable. My aim has always been to design and create timeless furniture that stands the ultimate test of time in terms of quality and style.

What’s the most spontaneous thing you’ve ever done?

I arrived on the doorstop of my then boyfriend without invitation and suggested I move in! He is now my husband….

What is the most important object you own and why?

A photographic birthday album made for me by my children and husband that has a note from each of my dearest friends along with a meaningful photograph… very touching and priceless to me. I am an extremely sentimental person.

What did you think was cool when you were young but isn’t cool now?

If I’m honest I think it would be smoking! But seriously, I think age is a wonderful privilege because with it comes so much knowledge. Though setting up and running a business can be challenging, it is always rewarding in that it is a constant learning curve and that it is an immense opportunity to learn and grow. I feel grateful to have built Hyde House.

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