Proudly made in Britain, Joseph Giles brass architectural hardware features in some of the world’s most exclusive interior-design schemes
On the sill behind Giles Harwood’s desk is an in-tray. It overflows with new product ideas for Joseph Giles, the luxury-hardware design company founded by his father. “So many buildings in this country have a story behind them,” says Giles, the company’s Director of Operations and Marketing. “We also give our products a story, a personality.”
Joseph Giles specialises in door hardware for a global customer base, but the family tradition of innovation reaches back to Harwood’s grandfather, Dudley Harwood, who in the 1970s designed cone-style speakers that changed how we listen to music. Dudley’s son, John, worked on lighting and machine design before founding Joseph Giles, named after his two sons, in 1998.
The first products included leatherbound door handles and the minimalist Cube range of square lever handles. “People either loved them or hated them,” says Giles. Among those who loved the designs were the Royal Family – Joseph Giles worked on the refurbishment of Kensington Palace and Prince Edward’s Bagshot Park residence.
Britishness is at the core of the Surrey-based company. Its designs have been inspired by the Spitfire, Tate Modern’s Switch House extension and the rock formations of the Giant’s Causeway. The company always works with British manufacturers. “We’ve never had anything made from China,” says Giles. “We’ve stuck with British manufacturers because it makes sense – you can go and see them.”
Joseph Giles also insists on quality materials. “Everything we make is from the same grade solid brass,” says Giles. “Designers like that because we’re the one place they know they can come to. We don’t compromise.”
Coupled with the brand’s high-end aesthetics are practical issues: ensuring that handles do not wobble and that latches remain noiseless, as well as alerting architects and designers to the nuances of door hardware. “You’re not just supplying a standalone product, you’re supplying something that’s fitted to a door,” says Giles. “If we don’t have the door details, width and style, it’s like trying to buy a pair of shoes for a friend without knowing their shoe size.”
Such is the search for perfection from Joseph Giles. “We’re in a low-volume game and it’s good to have that control over quality,” says Giles. “We design to make everything look perfect.”