Who we are
Jonathan Charles Fine Furniture is the vision of Jonathan Sowter, an English furniture designer who excels at the art of fine antique reproduction. We design and manufacture the highest-quality European antique replicas as well as our own unique transitional designs, which are distributed to the best shops and interior designers throughout North America, U.K., Spain, Italy, and France, just to name a few.
What makes us different is our meticulous attention-to-detail and pursuit of high-quality construction. This has propelled our company growth from just ten employees in April 2004 to over 1,398 in December 2011. Our passion for detail is also reflected in our in-house brass foundry, in which we manufacture our own hardware so that when we design a new piece of furniture we can also design one-of-a-kind pulls, hinges, locks and even keys for that piece.
It is our aim to constantly expand into new markets, while continuing to be a brand synonymous with the finer things in life.
We are craftsmen
Jonathan Charles works with artisans who display a large range of skills. We take pride in our work, which is evident in our beautifully-crafted antique replicas. We go far beyond just creating furniture that resembles English classics. We employ age-old techniques, which breathe soul and lasting-quality into our products.
We are designers
Many of our inspirations come from original antiques that Jonathan discovers in his travels. Sometimes, we will reproduce them as accurately as possible, while at other times we will take a detail that we like and design a completely new piece of furniture around that feature.
Oftentimes, we will start the design process from scratch. We gather inspiration from a variety of sources – be it a classic wallpaper design, nature, classic antiques, a rare object, or jewelry.
We never design to the limitations of our factory, and have actually expanded our factory as we have developed new skills in advanced marquetry, bronze casting, hand carving and much more.
We stand for quality
We never compromise on design and would be foolish to compromise on quality. Only the finest materials are used in our furniture. We also employ inspectors that ensure technically-sound components and design throughout the process. These experts oversee production, checking in at key transaction points so that nothing is overlooked. Before an item is packaged, it is reviewed with a keen eye and must pass a comprehensive checklist by our quality control inspector.
Founder & CEO
Few people are fortunate enough to know at the age of 12 what they will do for a career, but making a piece of furniture in a school woodwork class provided the spark of inspiration for a passion that has driven Jonathan Sowter for almost 30 years. Little did Jon’s woodwork teacher, Mr Way, know that his encouragement in the classroom would inspire his pupil to travel around the world and ultimately to establish a thriving furniture manufacturing business in the Far East.
After the school classroom, Jon took a job in a Yorkshire furniture company and subsequently trained as a cabinet maker and graduated with a BA Hons in Furniture Design and Craft. At his university graduation show, he met Paul Maitland-Smith, a well known London antique dealer and maker of reproduction furniture since 1957, and the next thing he knew he was on his way to Rajasthan to establish a furniture factory.
After 2 years in India, Jon moved on to Vietnam and has lived there ever since, with an independent furniture making business of his own since 2004. Starting with just 10 people in a small factory, Jon has now built a business of more than 1,000 craftsmen (and women – in fact mostly women!) all of whom are well trained artisans capable of producing top quality furniture to the highest possible global standards.
Jon loves to keep pushing the boundaries of the business, and particularly enjoys exploring new methodologies and materials. Some years ago, for example, Jon designed an oyster secretary cabinet which was so ornate that hardware from his regular suppliers could not do it justice. The only solution was for the factory to make the hardware from scratch and from that day onwards all brass and bronze fittings on Jonathan Charles furniture has been made in the foundry on site within the factory – something which makes Jon very proud.