Purveyor of contemporary furniture with an Asian sensibility (and a seriously glossy finish)
WHAT EXACTLY IS THE LACQUER COMPANY?
It’s a gorgeous furniture design studio that manufactures exquisite pieces using ancient Asian craftsmanship techniques. In short, it’s a temple to all things lacquer.
WHO’S BEHIND IT?
Designer James Lowther, who first fell in love with lacquerware while travelling in Burma at only 19. Following this came a career in London working for brands such as Colefax and Fowler, and later in events and interior design in New York. While there, James started importing lacquer from Saigon as a sideline, which lead to making custom pieces for designers such as Rita Konig. This led to a collaboration between the two that formed the foundations of The Lacquer Company. Since then, James has worked on product lines with an endless slew of world-class designers, including Martin Brudnizki, Veere Grenney, Pentreath & Hall, John Derian and Luke Edward Hall.
HOW IS THE LACQUER ACTUALLY CREATED?
It’s made from the sap of the lacquer tree, which grows throughout Asia. The sap is dyed, treated and applied in layers to a base, usually made from wood, before being allowed to slowly dry till it forms a hard surface. James’ lacquer comes from trees in the Phu Tho province in northern Vietnam and Nam Vang in Cambodia, and it’s the blend of the two that creates superlative results. Once the lacquer is dried, it is wet-sanded in fresh water until perfectly smooth – a meticulous process that can be repeated as many as 15 times. After this, external decoration and colour can be applied.
BIG NAMES, HANDCRAFTED PRODUCTS – THESE MUST BE INVESTMENT PIECES?
James Lowther is to lacquerware what David Linley is to marquetry – this is the best that money can buy. However, price points aren’t as eye-watering as you might think. An entry point Belles Rives tray by Rita Konig comes in at £175, while a sophisticated Righe coffee table by Flair New York will set you back £2,995. These pieces will last beyond a lifetime, though, and are guaranteed antiques of the future.
ANY SURE-FIRE COLLECTIBLES?
Unique pieces from the collaborations with Rita Konig, KRB and Luke Edward Hall will always have a special appeal.
We love the simple lines of the Pentreath & Hall trays, Flair’s collectible geometric boxes and the stunning Portsea side table by Veere Grenney.
GIVE US THE GOSSIP – ANY NEW DESIGNER COLLABORATIONS COMING UP?
Keep it to yourselves, but the brand is launching a collection with Miles Redd, an American interior designer who formerly served as creative director of Oscar de la Renta Home. There’s also a line coming out with Jeffrey Bilhuber, a designer who has previously collaborated with wallpaper masters de Gournay.
WHERE CAN I GET MY HANDS ON ONE OF THESE BEAUTIES?
There’s a design studio at Worlds End Studios on Lots Road in the Chelsea Design District, where highlights from the range can be viewed by appointment. You’ll also find selected pieces at Pentreath & Hall. There are also several stockists in New York and Los Angeles. Watch this space for an upscale, dedicated bricks and mortar store scheduled to open soon in Pimlico. Meanwhile, check out the complete collection online (worldwide shipping is available for those who can’t wait for the UK rollout).
WITH ALL THAT TIME SPENT IN VIETNAM, JAMES MUST HAVE SOME TOP TRAVEL TIPS?
James has a soft spot for the hidden corners of Saigon, where glimpses of old world Vietnam still shine through. The waterfront restaurant The Deck is a favourite spot. Hoi An, an ancient town in central Vietnam is also worth a visit before spending beachy weekends on Phu Quoc island, where the Mango Bay Resort gets James’ thumbs up.