In conversation with Harriet Forde, president of the BIID

By Elspeth Pridham
September 11, 2019

As well as running her own successful interior design practice, Harriet Forde was recently appointed president of the BIID. Here she talks about trekking to Machu Picchu and the joys of a rechargeable light

When was Harriet Forde Design founded, and why?

The business was founded in 1999 – so we are celebrating our 20th year! It was founded because I needed a more flexible working life, I needed to accommodate a growing family and couldn’t do much international travel at the time. I also wanted to challenge myself and see how working in my own style would evolve.

How many staff?

Just a couple full time, the rest are freelancers as needed.

Where is it based?

We are in leafy Queens Park, West London

What is your latest significant achievement or project of note?

Becoming the president of the BIID, it’s a great privilege and I’m looking forward to an exciting year!

What is your bestselling product?

My creative brain! I was lucky enough to be born with the ability to ‘see’ spaces, colour, form and perspective in the way I do, I didn’t appreciate this was different until I found clients floundering when trying to realise their ideas. This perspective allows me to help clients to construct a vision that we all love and then implement it for them.

I’ve just discovered…

how useful rechargeable lights are. I fell in love with the Carrie LED lamp from the Conran Shop and for a while I wandered around everywhere like the ‘Lady with the Lamp’ !

I find them invaluable for any dark spot for reading, in the garden for a summer’s dinner, at my desk for more task light. I particularly love this one for its simple Scandi design. For clients they are a brilliant way to get round the issue of trailing cables that can become trip hazards.

Who inspires me…

I have always been a great admirer of Olga Polizzi. She has great taste, dedication to the industry and sets a great example of how a life in design can be done.

I’ve always been a fan of…

Travel, I love the way it expands my mind, opens me to new experiences, colours, tastes, smells, views etc. I love to see how the rest of the world lives their lives, it can be very humbling and reminds me how privileged we are and how important it is to remember the bigger picture. Give me a designer handbag or a long-haul ticket and I will always choose the latter.

My highlight of the last 12 months…

Trekking 70K to Machu Picchu. I did the trip for Barnardo’s Charity and it was a really special experience. Walking in that altitude is challenging but so is being fostered out into another family because your own can’t cope. I know I got a lot out of the journey and I hope the cash raised helps some children with theirs.

My next design trip is to…

from all the exciting events this autumn in London, to Paris for Maison et Object with the BIID. We do a special itinerary which takes all the headache out of the logistics and allows us to enjoy the show, Paris and a couple of days away.


Harriet Forde will be opening the annual BIID Inside Knowledge Conference on 7th November 2019. For more info