A closer look at Harriet Kelsall’s Hertfordshire design studio.
By Courtney Hagen
One step into Harriet Kelsall Jewellery’s groundbreaking converted barn space in Hertfordshire is an experience for all five senses; from the sight of glittering rings in shop cases and the feeling of trying on a bespoke design in the appointment area, to the sound of goldsmiths crafting their designs in the workshop, followed by the smell of freshly-brewed coffee and the taste of an afternoon tea in the on-site coffee shop.
Harriet Kelsall is leading an innovative trend in the jewellery industry by incorporating elements that were once isolated into her restored Tudor barn, with a boutique, design studio, jewellery workshop, café, gardens, showroom, and administrative offices all housed under one roof.
Company director Harriet Kelsall launched her company in 1998 on the idea that bespoke jewellery should be accessible to all. The brand redesigned its 320sqm Hertfordshire base last year, with the help of design studio Lumsden, turning it into an all-encompassing jewellery centre.
“Callum [Lumsden] redesigned our studio and shop in central Cambridge back in 2009, so much of the style had been already conceived,” says Kelsall. “It was a question of taking those ideas from an urban city centre setting and reworking them into a rural, farm environment. We’ve got a mini field of wheat by the cash desk as part of our displays and an antique mill stone just by the main door.”
The whole project was designed to be an inclusive environment, encouraging a more personal relationship between the brand and customers. Kelsall says: “Our thought process was to keep it all out in the open, to educate and engage people in all the interesting facets of jewellery design and handcraftsmanship.”
The challenge rested in incorporating all of these modern, personal elements together in a space that still maintains the traditional integrity of the building, in respect to the Tudor beams and original textures.
“The building is a beautiful beamed barn so everything we had needed to [be in keeping],” says Kelsall. “We have these fabulous modular display cabinets, shelving and drawers system which sit in front of the beams. Upstairs there are four designer consultation areas mixed up with retail displays – we like to mix these up so that browsers can easily talk to designers and ideas can easily turn into projects. Downstairs is the office space and our coffee shop, where we sell homemade food and cakes. I suppose we are trying to combine contemporary and tradition in the space, as we do in our jewellery.”
There are artistic touches throughout the space. Displays feature visual props such as designers’ mood boards, pencils, and sketchbooks – each intended to tell a story. “We’re about proper craftsmanship,” states Kelsall. “We have this huge glass wall between the goldsmiths and the coffee shop – we call it the ‘goldsmiths bowl’ – and we like the idea that browsers can sip a cappuccino or enjoy a cream tea whilst watching the team at work.”
This honest, multifunctional space concept is all a part of the revolutionary trend in retail that Kelsall thinks will only grow and differentiate the UK jewellery industry in the future. “We think people are a little fed up with high street clones and are looking for more of an experience. People want more than just products on shelves to look at.”
This feature was taken from the September issue of Professional Jeweller magazine. To read the issue in full online, click here.