A Q&A With Clare Harris, Owner of Talking Tables Posted on 17 Sep 15:47
Edinburgh raised Clare Harris founded Talking Tables in 1999 - inspired by her own love of hosting parties and creating elaborate tablescapes. All these years laters, Talking Tables has become a huge success and a leader in the field, continuing to create innovative products and investing in sustainable practices. We asked Clare a few questions about her Edinburgh memories and creative process.
Getting off the train at Haymarket, smelling the local brewery and feeling the chilly wind as I caught my bus to school. I also recall going to Murrayfield Ice Rink with my school friends. Ice skating and trampling were parties of choice in my era.
What are your first memories of Paper Tiger?
I was a big fan of Studio One - it was my favourite independent in Edinburgh during my youth - but I think this predates Paper Tiger, showing quite how old I am! Now Paper Tiger is my first choice for cards and I always buy a clutch for my card drawer.
Where is your favourite place in the city?
The galleries in Edinburgh are typically both great buildings and good exhibitions, so one gets the joy of a double dose of art and architecture, from the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art to the grittier Fruit Market Gallery by Waverley. I also like to journey out to Jupiter Artland and on my recent trip back we stopped in at Little Sparta to see Ian Hamilton Finlay’s work in situ.
I was brought up in a family of four kids with multiple cousins and youngsters sitting at the dinner table. My role was to lay the table and often I made these quite artsy. I also noted that the more sparklers, party poppers and table bombs that I layered in, the table became more raucous and interactive!
What inspires your work?
I am fortunate that Talking Tables create products that weave into our everyday lives – dining and socialising with family and friends. During parts of lockdown, we were with small bubbles of friends and often in our gardens, so that opened our eyes to new ways to meet, to “tablescape” and to make our gardens lovely places to relax. I reinforce these personal experiences by reading the weekend supplements, reading gardening magazines and of course talking to as many people as possible. Of course, Instagram is now a convenient way to tap into the visuals of specialists in the area of gardens, tablescapes, baking and homes.
How do you record your ideas/sketches/designs?
I use my phone camera – I love it. I create albums around themes or trips. I bombard my team with emails of such pictures!
What is your favourite part of your job?
People – be that colleagues or customers. And constantly learning. Everyday is a new challenge – be that Brexit; lack of container ships, recruiting new staff, new technologies arriving…
If you could tell your younger self anything, what would it be?
The hours you spent on holiday jobs, plus sewing, making candles, pressing flowers and a hasty art Higher at school would all be good “creative brain food”. Perhaps we were lucky not to have a computer or phone to get buried into.
What are you working on next?
We are working towards Talking Tables being carbon neutral.