At home with Sarah Harris Gould

The Director of local fashion label Harris Tapper, shares her recently renovated villa in central Auckland.

Half of design duo Harris Tapper (with her friend Lauren Tapper), Sarah Harris Gould lives in Grey Lynn, Auckland, in the home she renovated with her husband, Harry. She says what she  loves most about their new spaces is more of a feeling than something tangible — she always feels calm and happy here.

How long have you been living here, Sarah? My husband Harry and I bought this property in 2016. The paint job was polarising, the bathroom was situated in the sunniest part of the house and the garden was incredibly overgrown, but we were attracted by the location and the renovation opportunities. We lived here for about a year before we started renovating, which gave us time to really understand what we wanted. 

MAIN IMAGE Sarah’s fail-safe feel-good outfit is her Harris Tapper suiting. “I always gravitate toward a comfortable black suit — I love the versatility,” she says. The intriguing homeware seen here includes an ottoman covered in fabric by Kelly Wearstler from Warwick and a lamp from The Collective.

And what was that? To reconfigure the kitchen/living space and bathroom to make the former more open-plan and both more conducive to modern life. Harry and I had a strong vision, so we enlisted T Plus Architects to draw it up and Urry & Burgess Construction to help bring it to life. 

How would you describe your interior aesthetic? Eclectic. I like to include things I haven’t seen in other people’s homes. My aesthetic is darker than Harry’s, so we clash a little when it comes to choosing furniture; our black Mongolian goat-hair chair from Mid Century Swag was a hard sell. For the most part, though, our tastes are aligned, so that makes things easy. 

TOP On the couple’s French antique dining table from Vitrine (the chairs are from there too) is a rubber vase by Gaetano Pesce. In the kitchen, the mid-century bar stools are secondhand, the lamp was a gift to Sarah from Harry from House of Hackney and the palm tree vase next to it is from Junk & Disorderly. Sarah made the shelf herself from a piece of broken stone from Artedomus. ABOVE This artwork is Back There by Matt Arbuckle; the one seen in the kitchen/dining space on the previous page is The Cook’s Companion by Dick Frizzell.

You have an eye for interesting furniture and objects — where do you find them? Reimagining objects in unrelated settings is something I’ve always loved doing. When I was younger, I’d collect small objects from everywhere and make jewellery to sell. This has carried into my adult life and into interiors. I always pop into charity stores if I’m passing by and small New Zealand towns have some exceptional secondhand shops. In Auckland, I keep tabs on what Babelogue, Mid Century Swag and Flotsam & Jetsam have in stock — they’re all so beautifully curated.

What informs Harris Tapper’s aesthetic? Our aesthetic is driven by so many different things, but a large part of it is imagining our community of Harris Tapper women — how they live and how our clothes can evolve with them. Art and design has always been a big inspiration for us and we often look to female artists and creatives to inform our collections, but at the end of the day, it comes down to what we feel our woman needs from her wardrobe, and what her lifestyle’s like. We want women to feel, above all else, like themselves. 

What’s coming up for your label? We have a goal to find a balance between environmentally responsible practices and sustainable business planning. We’ve recently opened up a pre-order system on harristapper.com, where customers can pre-purchase pieces from upcoming seasons before we go into production. Not only does this allow our community to be better informed about the product they’re buying before it’s actually produced,it also matches supply with demand, allowing us to reduce overproduction and waste. We hope it can be used as  a tool to inform smarter forecasting and buying for our online store, translating into more efficient production, because we’ll only be making pieces with a proven sales track record, ordered by our customers and exclusive wholesale partners, thus removing the risks of overproduction and surplus stock.
We’ve also recently launched our new collection, Overtime, which is an ode to mid-century tailoring and undulating proportions. We’ve used heavy silk organza, cashmere and thick wool coating to create pieces with exaggerated silhouettes that feel refined but have a sense of ease. 

THIS & THAT “Our style is ever-evolving, which might be why it’s so eclectic,” says Sarah. “I also do a lot of thrift-shopping; I’m not a big advocate of buying everything new and in a perfect state. We’ve re-covered one of our couches three times as it’s moved from room to room.” The lion rug in Ophelia’s bedroom (above) is from Liberty in London. “She was afraid of it until recently — we had to introduce it slowly!” says Sarah. The secondhand armchair in this space and headboard in the master bedroom (top right) have both been reupholstered with fabric from House of Hackney.

What do you think are the most important aspects of running your own business in this brave new world? The entire fashion industry is built on the idea of consumerism and newness, which has created a greenwashed marketing culture, so the whole concept of sustainability in this industry is very murky. We believe in long-term business sustainability and ethical practices. We don’t compromise on the quality of our products, focusing on fit, refined and considered detailing, and exceptional fabrics. 

You’re a new mum too — how do you juggle work and home life? I think ‘balance’ is different for everyone. I try not to work from home unless our daughter Ophelia is asleep, and believe routine is important — it brings understanding and stability to a busy day and week. 

What everyday rituals make your days? I do my best to meditate for 10 minutes daily. I’m no master but it helps clear my head and makes me feel as if I can take on anything. It’s been proven to mitigate stress and anxiety, so I can never understand why more people don’t build it into their lives.
@sarahharrisgould; @harris_tapper

Interview Alice Lines
Photography Duncan Innes

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