Dezeen Magazine

Sharing platform Harth aims to change the way we furnish our interiors

A sharing platform that allows members to rent works of art and furniture has soft launched in London.

Harth was founded by design writer, editor and curator Henrietta Thompson alongside her husband and business partner Edward Padmore.

It describes itself as the "first platform in the world that enables everyone to borrow beautiful furniture, interior design and art directly from the world's best brands, designers and artists, galleries and dealers."

The service aims to tap into the growing popularity of the sharing economy, following in the footsteps of pioneering brands such as Airbnb and Uber.

Members can rent items of art or furniture on Harth

The service allows members to rent pieces of high-quality furniture, and change them as their circumstances and tastes change.

"It was once the expectation that you'd get married, move into a family house, furnish it – probably with your wedding gifts – and live there forever, reupholstering the sofa seven times," Thompson told Dezeen.

"Modern life doesn't really work the same way it did for previous generations: relationships, jobs, travel, growing families, finances… today our circumstances change more regularly than ever."

Harth allows members to upload their own products to rent

"The industry's answer is to force a choice: you buy longterm investment pieces – which is why beige and grey and 'neutral' designs are such best sellers; or you buy cheap, fun, 'disposable' pieces, knowing you can change it without too much stress or cost," said Thompson.

"And that's why so much badly made, cheap furniture ends up in landfill."

"Meanwhile we all have so much stuff! Storage is one of the biggest growing industries at the moment which can only be indicative of a problem. With Harth we wanted to see if there was a better way."

Members can browse and choose items directly from the platform and also upload their own products to rent. Pieces are delivered by Harth's network of delivery service providers.

The product catalogue includes new season designs, one-off collectables and vintage finds, all available for short, medium and long-term needs.

"There's been a blind spot [within the interiors Industry] when it comes to the sharing economy," explained Thompson.

"Renting is still subject to snobbery and stigma too, but now that we have the transparency enabled by the internet, that's changing completely. Renting is big news already in the car industry and it's set to be massive in fashion, why not in interiors?"

Harth is intended for use by corporate clients and individuals

The platform is intended for a wide range of members – both corporate and private – who might be looking to rent furniture for anything from pop-ups and exhibitions to holiday homes and weddings.

Thompson said that she anticipates the service being used by people with short-term requirements for furnishing their spaces, as well as people who want to share their own furniture and art with like-minded design-loving people.

"Professional interior designers, stylists and property developers are already making good use of the pilot service for pop-ups, exhibitions and styling showcases," said Thompson.

The sharing service was established by Henrietta Thompson and her husband Edward Padmore

Harth is currently working with furniture brands such as Tom Dixon, Aarnio Originals, Carl Hansen, Walter Knoll, Lee Broom, Case, Established & Sons, Tom Raffield and Stellar Works who are lending new designs, pre-owned pieces and prototypes.

Art and sculpture is being lent by galleries including Geoff Dyer, Nic Fiddian Green, Jennifer Lee, Rob and Nick Carter, Stephen Farthing, and Jonathan Yeo.

Members can also choose smaller home accessories from brands such as Lee Broom, Minimalux, 1882, Lux by Design Haus Liberty, A Modern Grand Tour and Kana London.

While membership to founding members is free, those joining after the platform's official UK launch later this year can expect to pay a monthly subscription fee that will be offset against items borrowed. Expansion into other international cities is planned for 2019.

Other companies exploring contemporary furniture rental include Japanese furniture brand Kamarq, which launched in New York with a collection of products that users can rent monthly. However it almost immediately pulled several of its designs amid plagiarism accusations.

Photography is by Anders Gramer.