Industry Profile: Jonathan Sainsbury


As the latest in a long line of Sainsbury generations to take over the renowned family business, Jonathan Sainbury has taken the helm with full force, and made a few changes along the way. After a childhood spent emersed in beautiful antique furniture, Jonathan made the somewhat brave decision to branch out from the family business, and start designing and making exquisite new works. We discuss design and Decorex plans with the collector of curiosities in this week's Industry Profile.

Chinese chippendale Chair

Jonathan Sainsbury Ltd has a history as a long standing family business.  Could you tell us a little about this?

My family has been in the timber trade since the early 18th century when we were timber merchants.  My great grandfather, Daniel Sainsbury, then founded the family cabinet-making business in Bournemouth in 1918.   Like my grandfather and father before me, I went on to serve my apprenticeship in the family business under one of the craftsmen, Fred (who incidentally still works for the business, now aged 82 having joined in 1957!)  During this time I was able to indulge my passion for beautiful objects.

With the rapid escalation in the price of the original piece together with the difficulty in finding pure examples from the 18th and 19th century,  I had a desire to emulate these unique items as accurately as I could.  In 2004, I branched out from the antiques business to establish Jonathan Sainsbury Ltd with the aim of making beautiful furniture, based on the original, employing traditional techniques and using the finest materials available.

Which is the most popular design chosen by your customers?

All our pieces are admired and well received.  Our range of mirrors is particularly popular perhaps because there is always space in a house for a mirror!

The Chippendale Nostell Priory Mirror

Have you always been interested in interior design and furniture? Was it always encouraged when you were younger?

As long ago as I can remember, my father used to spend his weekends carting me around great country houses and antique shops.  By the age of eight, I knew all about Thomas Chippendale and William Kent and was able to identify Georgian and Queen Anne furniture!

If you could describe your work in 3 words, what would they be?

Inspiring, Decadent, Bold

If you could design furniture for any person, who would it be?

I would have loved to have worked with the great furniture designers of the 18th and 19th century, particularly William Kent.

The Witchampton Bergere

What is the biggest challenge in your working life?

Time! There is just never enough of it.

What is your favourite piece within your own home

I am a collector of spectacular curiosities so our house is full to bursting with all manner of pieces ranging from the ancient world to the early nineteenth century.  The interior of our house has been described as being a little like the Sir John Soane’s Museum crossed with the Pitt Rivers in Oxford!  If pushed, I would have to say a lacquered long case clock, circa 1720 in our hall, which bears the makers name of Sainsbury on the dial.  It has been in my family for over a hundred years.

Adam Irish Oval Mirror

Could you tell us a little about your stand plans for Decorex 2013?

To showcase our new collection of furniture and mirrors to their best effect at Decorex this year, our stand (D35) has been designed in the style of a lavish English country house drawing room.  We will create an area where one can escape the hustle and bustle of the show and relax in a comfortable armchair surrounded by wonderful things with a large glass of red! 

Are there any new releases on the horizon? 

We are constantly designing and crafting new pieces. We will be proudly launching our latest collection  - the Decadence Collection – at Decorex this year.  This is our largest collection of furniture and mirrors to date so we are extremely excited about showcasing it. The collection contains over 50 pieces ranging from intricately carved side-tables, dining chairs and huge armchairs covered in the finest fabrics to rococo gilded and aged painted mirrors.   The pieces are characterised by their bold design and immaculate attention to detail.

The Brightling Park Table

You have changed the business dramatically and positively in the last decade, what does the future look like for Jonathan Sainsbury Ltd?

We are excited about the future for Jonathan Sainsbury Ltd.   Since 2004, we have rapidly gained an international reputation for supplying the finest hand-carved mirrors and furniture and we will be constantly striving for excellence in our craftsmanship and keeping traditional cabinet-making skills alive.

I consider myself extremely fortunate to work in the interior furnishing business; I am able to spend a great deal of time in really beautiful classical period houses surrounded by wonderful furniture and objects.


Register for Decorex to see more Jonathan Sainsbury products at the show