A Brief History of Henkel Harris
Henkel Harris furniture is another furniture company that stresses construction, technique and classic stylings over the “flavor of the moment” trends. The Winchester, Virginia company was formed in 1945 with two families, the Henkel family and the Harris family, but it was eventually Mary Henkel who took the company to its level of fame and prominence in the 1960s.
As a woman entrepreneur who’s business drive was matched by her commitment to her employees, Mary Henkel has been a source of inspiration to me. She reportedly stressed learning the techniques of the old cabinet makers, whether it be colonial America or continental Europe. She took her team of craftsmen on learning trips to soak up furniture making techniques and tricks. Education and a goal of excellence was always a priority to her company. Craftsmen were well compensated for their skill and attention to detail and they reached new heights in their production line.
This commitment to tradition and quality has paid off, and Henkel Harris reached national distribution and fame. They start with excellent woods, wild cherry and old growth mahogany when possible, and mostly use solid wood construction, with only the finest decorative veneers on dining tables and buffets.
All drawers are dovetailed, most cases are pined with dowels and the furniture is hand rubbed with traditional stains and shellacs. This of course also necessitates a huge time commitment, and the cost of Henkel Harris pieces reflect this. Most case furniture starts at $2000 with some bedroom sets reaching tolls of $20,000 to $40,000.
But we love Henkel Harris for the aesthetic. Simple poster beds, well proportioned chests with simple brasses, hutches and corner cupboards with simple moldings and paneled doors… these clean lines and elegant details make Henkel Harris a shoe-in for the well appointed classic home. It’s not fussy or over the top. It is true elegant design, and pieces from the 1960s and 70s look very similar to pieces made in the 90s and 2000s. It is the epitome of heirloom furniture of today and tomorrow.