With the mission of inspiring their clients through art, design, and craftsmanship, McKinnon and Harris is known for its timeless, yet enduring bench-built outdoor furniture. Founded over 30 years ago by Virginia-based siblings Will and Anne Massie, the family-owned company has always recognized the importance of furnishing outdoor spaces as an extension of one’s home. 

Inspired by their travels, early collections were based on traditional English Garden furniture. As collections expanded over the years, the same commitment to artistry held true. Each piece is crafted by hand from start to finish, often named for beloved family members, treasured friends, and adored pets. Every visible surface, bend, corner, and joint required a master’s hand and judgement, an arduous but rewarding process that continues to this day.

Thirza, McKinnon and Harris’s newest collection, recalls sun-drenched travel to the Mediterranean with a mid-century influence. Versatile, playful yet sophisticated, Thirza boasts clean lines with distinctive hand-sculpted details.

We had the pleasure of chatting with Will Massie about the new collection and how McKinnon and Harris remains one of the most beloved and authentic makers in American design.

Will, please tell us a little about the inspiration for Thirza? What led to its creation? 

My travels through Italy have always been a source of inspiration for me, and we have long aspired to create a collection that pays homage to the lifestyle and aesthetic of the Mediterranean. Our Thirza Collection takes notes from mid-century modern and traditional American design as well, expressing its distinct personality through curved, organic shapes and whimsical hand-sculpted details. 

While each McKinnon and Harris piece is handcrafted, can you talk about some of the features that make Thirza unique? 

Much like the decorative ironwork found throughout the Mediterranean region, the Thirza Collection expresses its personality through details like the sphere-shaped finials, the elegantly curved back and arms, undulating spindles, tufted cushions, and playful backties. Each joint and intersection is brought to life by hand shaped curves and transitions. 

Let’s talk about material. Aluminum to be exact. What is the process that makes a McKinnon and Harris piece so strong and sturdy?

McKinnon and Harris utilizes the highest grade aluminum alloys combining strength, resilience, and corrosion resistance. It’s the perfect material for furniture because it increases performance while reducing weight. We apply enduring wooden furniture crafting techniques to how we work with aluminum, making our furniture unsurpassed for strength and longevity. 

The coating process is also one of your trademarks. Can you tell us a little about your coating system? 

What I think really sets us apart as a pioneer in our industry is our dedication to performance and innovation. We’re the only furniture company in the world to use Bonderite® EC² Technology, a coating system most commonly used on marine equipment that spends the majority of its lifetime submerged in highly corrosive saltwater. Our furniture is submerged in a titanium solution, then shocked with two megawatts of electricity, giving it a distinctive charcoal gray undercoating that is impenetrable to corrosion. We follow this base with a primer and an architectural grade powder coat, in any of our 21 colors, enabling our furniture to endure extreme climates all over the world, from Palm Beach to Dubai. 

I have always admired your finishes. How do you select your color palettes? What are they inspired by? What finishes are Thirza offered in?

We draw on native roots in naming our finish colors for storied places in the Virginia Commonwealth. Inspired by the atmospheric light unique to Virginia, our palette of original colors complements landscapes all over the globe. The Thirza Collection is available in and suits any of our 21 finish colors, from Classic White to Sorghum Black. 

I would imagine the resiliency of the upholstery to the elements is just as important and the resiliency of the furniture itself. How have you benefited from advancements in outdoor fabric technology? 

When we decided to launch our own fabric line, craftsmanship and performance were paramount as each of our materials must meet our quality standards. We’ve partnered with a third-generation family-owned mill in Northern Italy that produces our exquisite fabrics, and shares our passion for creating sustainable, enduring products of the finest quality. Crafted by Italian artisans, as wool and cotton textiles have been for centuries, our mill uses modern acrylic yarns, paired with Alpine waters to produce fabrics that have the hand and character of indoor fabrics with the outdoor performance and endurance we demand for our furniture. 

What’s new in upholstery and textiles offerings at McKinnon and Harris? What are some of your favorites at the moment? 

Most recently, we’ve extended our offering to include a wide range of styles, weaves, and colorways that are available to order online by the yard. Our Italian Yachting Performance Fabrics, includes over 100 options for our clients to select from. We are currently developing an extension to our collection that will be available later this fall. 

Tell us about Thirza’s upholstery in particular?

The Thirza collection gave us the opportunity to express a distinct personality with unexpected details, particularly with the cushions. We’ve adorned them with button tufts, flanged edges, and playful back ties that can all be customized to meet our clients’ needs. 

After launching the inspiring Thirza, what else on the horizon at McKinnon and Harris?

We continue to see interest and desire for our more modern collections, like the deCamp, as well as new materials, like the synthetic woven rush we introduced last year. Our product development team is spending time exploring these spaces, in addition to finding opportunities to partner with clients on bespoke furniture designs.