As a young child building her dream home out of Lego, Samantha Crockett could never have imagined what the future held.

Having completed a BA(Hons) degree in theatre and film design, she began her career in costume and set design in London's West End, before diversifying into interiors, spending six years in Asia working on luxury hotels including the Mandarin Oriental, St Regis, Marriott and Langham.

But the pull of the New Forest, where she grew up, proved too strong to resist and Samantha moved back the area so her two young sons could enjoy the beautiful scenery of the south coast and set up her very own purpose-built studio.

Harris Jackson Design – named after her sons – was established in 2012 to focus on both the residential and boutique hotel sector, encompassing London and the south east.

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"We create memorable spaces and personal, emotive experiences for the inquisitive and worldy-wise," explains Samantha, who personally oversees all designs from concept to completion.

"I have always wanted to run my own business in a design-related field and, throughout my professional and personal life, every experience has led me to wanting autonomy and creativity to establish myself in hospitality design.

"Having worked both in in film and theatre design around Europe and for numerous large international design consultancies and textile/furniture suppliers it seemed only natural to combine my passion and drive to establish Harris Jackson."

Samantha credits her time designing large-scale musical productions and working with top international stars with learning the value of creating long-lasting memories, an insight she carries through into her interior design today, aiming to create both stunning interiors and memorable experiences for any guest staying in a hotel, or buyer purchasing a lifestyle show home she has designed.

Her time travelling and exploring different cultures also provided inspiration and Samantha, who says her work strikes the balance between style and functionality, ensuring an elegant and flawless finish, remains passionate about design and new trends.

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"Not only was my background in design and theatre a pre-cursor to my now passion for hospitality environments, but after graduating, a period in sales and marketing for luxury interior products instilled me with a desire to keep learning about innovative products and manufacturing," she explains.

"I learnt about the procurement process, what can be achieved by working alongside suppliers, manufacturers and craftspeople, to create a given look within a budget. It taught me how to design beautifully bespoke details that run through my work today.

"A move into interior design in the early 2000s brought a number of years designing high end residential interiors, but it was always the hotels that drew my attention. With this product knowledge came a sound sense of style and design history.

"I can be given any brief placed throughout time and place and produce an interior that demonstrates both a correct historical reference point but also empathy."

Samantha believes her passion for live performance, theatrical arts and film gives Harris Jackson an unrivalled USP. She would devour old black and white films from To kill a Mockingbird to Some Like It Hot and sing and dance, memorising all the routines from the Hollywood film musicals such as Oliver and Cabaret.

She followed her heart by studying set and costume design, combining her two passions – design and theatre. While studying, Saturdays were spent working her way round every department of what was then Terence Conran’s Habitat. The interiors bug re-awakened.

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Samantha’s studies taught her that, at every moment, theatrical design has to resonate with the audience, create an emotional reaction, depict a story, which in turn allowed for a longstanding memory. To work with the script to develop the character through setting, costume, texture, colour, sound and light,. create the world in which these characters lived and breathed.

Her professional career took her to the worlds of Cole Porter and Bob Fosse musicals as well as French restoration comedies through to 1950s American comedic theatre. They all have contributed over the years to this wealth of reference.

"Theatre is all about working as a team, it is a collaboration," says Samantha, "one cannot work without the other – just like in hospitality interiors. The designer cannot create without the client, the brand, the contractors and ultimately without the final experience that the hotelier/group want to impact on the guest.

"I learnt how to deal with personalities from directors to lead actors recently moved over from LA to tread the boards after decades of Hollywood film work. One cannot underrate the nerves that even the highest paid performers experience when stepping out onto that stage again. We had to reassure, understand and above all, listen. A skill often forgotten."

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The current climate has meant that Samantha and her team and working much more remotely, with the opportunity to visit a site taken away for the foreseeable future and designers having to work more from architectural drawings. But her work designing for show homes and hotels – often new-builds – means not being able to visualise a space in reality until is it built, meaning Samantha is well-versed in these challenges.

"We spend a lot more time on Zoom and talking to our clients virtually as well as viewing a space virtually," she says, adding that she feels Covid has enabled us to go back to the proverbial drawing board with design.

"We have to be more creative and think outside the box again."

With recent announcements by government parties to build, build, build, COVID will undoubtedly mean the residential sector will bring about an increase in building.

"People have spent so much time in their houses over the last six months that they really desire a better work life balance and incorporating the need to work from home even more," says Samantha, who has has also partnered with a New Forest-based high end garden office/studio supplier which supplies out-buildings built to client specifications where she will design the interiors.

She feels positive the hospitality sector will recover, and hopes people will start to appreciate what is on their doorstep.

“We have the most beautiful country and scenery in the UK and we need to relish it and protect it. Staying closer to home, not travelling abroad so much, support the local community and local industry can only be beneficial going forward.

"Of course we will all like to still travel abroad when the opportunity arises again but let’s stay true to our locale."

So what does the future hold for Harris Jackson?

"We're working on numerous show home projects for a large property developer based in the south," says Samantha.

"We're also in talks with a developer looking at creating a new brand of mixed-use developments incorporating a hospitality element. Her dream is to meet the next generation of Robin Hutson, the founder of Homegrown Hotels and the Limewood group, a hotelier who is looking to create a new brand of boutique hotels occupying period properties in the south."

 

Harris Jackson Interior Design, Hordle, Lymington

07717 494217

info@harrisjackson.co.uk

harrisjackson.co.uk