The story begins in the early 19th century, when John Harris Heal headed to London to train as a feather dresser.
Innovative from the start, he quickly set up his own mattress business and introduced French-style, feather-filled mattresses to London’s homeowners, marking the beginning of the end for straw beds. Following his death in 1833, his widow, Fanny, and their son, John Harris Junior, renamed the business Fanny Heal & Son. Seven years later Fanny handed the reins over to her son and ‘Heal’s’ moved to its current premises on Tottenham Court Road.
Ambrose Heal Junior joined the fold in 1893. Having completed an apprenticeship as a cabinet-maker, he was ripe to pioneer a catalogue of daring Arts and Crafts furniture. Ambrose had faith that the store’s customers would be open to this new territory and so championed brave new designs, such as Bauhaus’s tubular steel furniture.
The company went from strength to strength and, in 1933, Ambrose Heal was knighted for his part in ‘raising British design standards’.
Fast forward to the present day and Ambrose’s mantra, ‘If in doubt, innovate’, remains the company’s driving philosophy. Today, Heal’s honours this commitment to craft through its range of handmade wooden furniture and a display dedicated to ceramics by modern designer-makers, such as Lyngard and Mia Sarosi.
Highlights from this season include Morten, a Nordic-inspired collection designed exclusively for Heal’s by John Jenkins, that sits beautifully within the broader Scandi-inspired homeware section. A moody palette of deep burgundy, inky blues and dark greens provides a sophisticated backdrop to brushed brass finishes and monochrome patterns. Within this collection is the new Richmond sofa and the Balmoral upholstered bed, which masterfully updates the classic Chesterfield look. Also new is the ‘Designed by you’ service, which involves customers in the design process from the outset, giving them the creative freedom to design a sofa or dining table that is the perfect fit for their style and space.
Alongside the Heal’s pieces are big international furniture brands such as Fritz Hansen, Moroso, Vitra, Ligne Roset and Porada. These ‘Designer Collections’ brands have been curated by the Heal’s buyers and present a stunning edit of some of the most iconic furniture pieces in the world today. The lighting department is a destination in itself, where established brands, such as Anglepoise and Tom Dixon, sit alongside newcomers like Resident, Bert Frank and Vitamin.
Heal’s continues to support emerging talent, as evidenced by its annual ‘Heal’s Discovers’ collection, which has launched the careers of many young designers since 2004. Playing on its heritage and expertise, the company’s strapline, ‘The home of design since 1810’, clearly cannot be refuted. As much of a player today as it was 200 years ago, Heal’s continues to set the pace for the British interiors market through innovation, trendsetting and quality design.
HEAL’S THE HEAL’S BUILDING, 196 TOTTENHAM COURT ROAD, LONDON W1T 7LQ +44 (0)20 7636 1666