Harpist stool business expands internationally

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A Helensburgh business which creates handcrafted bespoke seats for harpists is now selling worldwide, with musicians using its products on stage at Celtic Connections and traditional music events throughout Scotland.
Design in Harmony was founded last year by furniture maker Sarah Selman and carpenter Gareth Wilson, after a local professional harpist Pippa Reid-Foster asked Sarah to design and make an ergonomic seat for her to use whilst playing.
With support from Business Gateway Argyll and Bute, the pair are working with a range of wood and fabrics to create unique seats which have been sold to musicians across the UK and as far as Australia and the USA.
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Sarah said: “Pippa’s commission was for a comfortable seat which matched her instrument and looked good. I came up with a design, spoke to Gareth and together we created the first Harmony seat. It was made from black walnut and upholstered in stunning, textured green velvet by Nina Campbell and the sloped top took into account Pippa’s playing height allowing her the best posture and playing technique.

Pippa Reid-Foster using one of the stools
Pippa Reid-Foster using one of the stools

“The positive response led us to setting up Design in Harmony and after exhibiting at the Edinburgh International Harp Festival, we began to get interest from harpists based nationally and internationally. With Business Gateway’s guidance I attended a series of excellent workshops which helped me enhance my business knowledge and through the DigitalBoost programme I learned how to build and run a website which allows me to now only control the content but keep account of the costs too. The encouragement and support that my Business Gateway adviser has given me has been second to none.”
As Design in Harmony grows, Sarah, who studied at the Winchester School of Art, is hoping to widen the company’s market to include cellists and other musicians who need an open posture to assist with breathing and playing.
Sarah added: “My work has included furniture making and boat restoration but 25 years after graduating in Three Dimensional Design I’ve returned to designing which is great. Our experience so far shows there is quite clearly a gap in the market for beautifully made, bespoke, functional seats that put the musician and their needs at the forefront. We have new designs currently under prototype which we’re excited about and we feel there are fantastic opportunities ahead for us.”
Jen Smith of Business Gateway said: “Sarah wanted to build up her knowledge, focusing on the topics which are relevant to the day-to-day running of a business. Via our expert one-to-one support and fully funded workshop programme, she was able to ensure she was in the best position to take Design in Harmony forward. Sarah also took advantage of our DigitalBoost programme to learn vital digital skills that allowed her to build a website that has helped increase the businesses profile”

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