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The history of James Richardson Furniture

Family owned and imbued with a sense of designer pride, the history of James Richardson Furniture is one driven by integrity, and exemplifying the story of Australia’s interest in design.

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BY

February 5th, 2020


The founding of James Richardson Furniture begins with first generation Australian David Mandie AM, OBE. Beginning his working life at 13 in the family barber and tobacconist, Mandie would later – at 35 – purchase a wholesale wine and spirits distribution business from local hotelier Jimmy Richardson. The seeds of James Richardson Furniture were sown with this purchase.

1956 is when we can say James Richardson Furniture was founded, when David made his foray into the furniture business. A handshake deal on a European trip was the start of an enduring partnership that continues to this day, bringing the finest in Czech furniture to Australia. It was Mandie’s handshake that first brought Czech company TON’s iconic bentwood range to Australia. 

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To this day, JRF remains TON’s longest standing client in the world, and the continuing partnership between the two reflects the power of collaboration in the design world, and speaks to both company’s appreciation for authentic design.

Located in Bystrice pod Hostýnem in the Czech Republic, TON is home to the oldest Michael Thonet factory in the world.  In continuous production since 1861, it’s also where the iconic Chair 18, Chair 14 and Chair 811 (Hoffmann Chair) have their origins. With over 150 years rich in history, these chairs continue TON’s design legacy into the 21st century.

 

TON has long established itself as one of the true originals of authentic design – having gained fame on a global scale thanks to the company’s spirit of enterprise, from drawing on the vast beech forests that surround its factory, and the immense skills of the local artisans, designers, and workers. TON’s range reflects an intersection of quality, innovation and legacy that James Richardson Furniture is proud to bring to Australia.

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Two companies, one history. These events underpin a design story of authenticity and respect for materials and craftsmanship that are still coded within the businesses today. The 1956 handshake agreement established a rewarding relationship for both parties, also setting the foundation for the culture of trust and relationship-building that continues to define JRF today.

Anchored by heritage and propelled by a dynamic vision for the future, 2019 saw James Richardson Furniture undergo an exciting rebrand and the appointment of Georgia Danos as Creative Director, to continue her grandfather’s legacy.


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