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UNIQUELY YOU TOGETHER HARRODS

Talks with Letitia, Head of Interior Design

20 years at Harrods. A team of 22 experts. And a brand-new microsite on harrods.com. We caught up with the wonderful Letitia to talk about all things Harrods Interior Design.    

A little bit about you: 
It doesn’t feel like it, but I’ve been with the business for 20 years now. I joined as an Executive Trainee, which was really interesting. I spent 18 months working on different placements around the store, got to know the business really well, and realised early on I wasn’t cut out for the front line of retail. I worked with concessions for many years before moving across to buying, initially for Home and then the Design Studio. I’ve always been passionate about interiors, but that was when I really honed my understanding of the ins-and-outs of interior design at Harrods; what our clients wanted, and how we needed to service them. I then moved back to buying for the shop floor before returning to the Studio as Head of Interior Design. I’ve been in this role for five years now and I never get bored! 

Five years in your role, what are some of the things you’re proud of? 
My biggest achievement has to be the team itself. They are incredibly talented, committed to their roles, the business, and our clients. They are an absolutely brilliant team, and it’s a privilege to work with them.  

Are there any customer trends we’re seeing?  
Open plan living has been the way of life for us. In 2019 you did all your activities outside of the home and the home was a place you would come back to and relax. Although architects have been predicting the fall of open plan living for quite some time, Covid-19 has really been the catalyst. Today, home is a place you work, socialise (when you’re able to), and spend the majority of your time. Consequently, people are setting up their homes to function in lots different ways, and properties are changing from room to room in a way we haven’t seen before. Everyone is setting up a dedicated home office if you can have one and we’ve seen a rise in spaces with active rest areas; places to read, think, declutter and switch off from the screen. Indoor gardening is another trend, nurturing plants is becoming part of our wellness regime and an activity people use to find calm and connect with nature.  

We’ve spotted Harrods Interior Design has its microsite on harrods.com, tell us all about it? 
I am so excited for the Microsite! It was such an interesting process to go through. Rather than asking “what do we want this website to do?”, we started with the client, finding out what’s important to them – which is trust. Looking at our portfolio for style reference and inspiration is of course important, but people relate to people. And when you are investing in your home, trust is paramount. That’s why we created the “Meet the Team” page which has the profiles of our designers including personal interviews with each of them, to assist with that element of building trust. I’m super pleased with the microsite and I love that you can see the personalities that make up our team.  

I really have to thank Michael for the microsite. We previously had a separate website and he was keen for us to move to the new platform, which provided us the opportunity to make the site what we wanted. It makes perfect sense from a client perspective and we have already acquired a project with a loyal customer that found out about us when searching the site. HID offers several different services and prospective clients can explore them in detail. The site looks fabulous and we are very proud.

Amazing, and the plans for the next six months? 
Despite the difficulties with travel, we have a number of projects globally. China has been a huge focus for the business, with Michael announcing last year the opening of The Residence in Shanghai, our new private shopping concept. We are very privileged to be involved in this, we opened the temporary space in December and we’re now working on delivering the permanent space for The Residence, alongside a Harrods Tea Room and a Residence in Beijing, all due to open in July 2021.  We have some exciting Residential projects across Asia and we are looking forward to starting a significant projection of a fabulous beachfront site in Muscat, Oman. Finally, we’re working through what the customer journey looks like for us virtually – refining our strategy so we can consistently offer the Harrods experience from home.  

Working from home the past 10 months? Yay or nay? 
Working from home, I have thoroughly enjoyed it. I expected 2020 to be crazy. I had psyched myself up to be travelling for 4 months as we had so many overseas projects, but instead, the complete opposite happened. Being locked down with my family has been a massive gain. We’ve never spent so much time together as a family and I’m lucky as my children are a bit older, 12 and 16-years-old, they have dealt with homeschooling really well. To top it off we got Bubbles the cockerpoo, or more frequently known as ‘Bubbles the Destroyer’. But despite her bad habits, she brings us so much joy. 

What makes you Uniquely Letitia?  
Growing up I was a tomboy and that combined with being Māori, a native New Zealander, is probably why I have an innate love for the great outdoors and any high adrenalin activities. Things people don’t know about me - I ride motorbikes and I love camping. I have an old VW campervan “Bertie Bus” Campervan which I love to take camping with the family, finding somewhere with no network coverage; When you have the great outdoors, things are simple and all you have to think is what are we going to eat and drink next. For me, that is the perfect relaxing holiday.  

Your favourite employee value? 
That’s a really tricky question as they really work together. I don’t think there is one that is more important or preferable than the others. I do think everyone has a value that comes naturally to them, mine is ‘We Take Pride.’ I’ve got a competitive nature so delivering the best I possibly can is what drives me.  

Tips for the home office?  
Absolutely. There are different parts of the home office that are really important, it depends on what you want to focus on because it’s a new year I am going to focus on wellness. A top tip is to introduce some plants, you spend so much time in this space – having greenery will help refresh the oxygen and take the toxins out of the air. Ideally use plants with rounded edges, not spikey. Try and find a position with good light – natural is always best. If you aren’t near a window, make sure you have sufficient lighting, A floor lamp works better so you can get light from a higher level.  A humidifier that you can add essential oils to will help keep you refreshed and in the right frame of mind - honestly, don’t write it off until you have tried it! 

Visit the new Harrods Interior Design microsite here.

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