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BY THOMAS CAMPBELL
From Saudi Arabia to Lillie Road, finding a good upholsterer is no easy seat.
The Chairman & Son’s new showroom in Goldhawk Road, which houses more than 50 pieces of furniture from all four corners of the world, is a testimony to the upholstery craft.
Owner and master upholsterer Simon (pictured above) was “digging for worms” in Worthing at the age of 14 when he dreamt that he was destined to make cushions for a living.
Simon, who lives on a Dutch barge, said: “I told my father that if I could make cushions I could go anywhere in the world because people always have to sit down.
“But I didn’t think by any means that it would get to this ridiculous level.”
Simon was just 19-years-old when he moved to London and got a job at Leather Chairs of England in Fulham.
The cushion maker’s dream came true when a wealthy Saudi Arabian businessman spotted a set of dining chairs he had made and invited him to the Saudi Arabian capital Riyadh.
The craftsman established Chairman in Lillie Road, Fulham when he returned to the UK 13 years later before moving to the King’s Road in Chelsea and then Notting Hill.
But rising rents in popular Portobello forced Simon to relocate to Goldhawk Road more than five years ago.
Now Chairman & Son, which restores all sorts including sofas, headboards and ottomans, has a two-week waiting list and orders all the way up until next year.
Manager Sam Harris, from Teddington, who used to work at Lots Road Auctions in Chelsea before he joined the company four years ago, said: “We sell everything.
From small trinkets and curios that could set you back a tenner to bespoke sofas that can fetch several thousand pounds.
“We are never not busy for upholstery. One it makes financial sense. Two it makes environmental sense. And people are less wasteful these days.”
But Mr Harris, who works with a team of a dozen upholsterers, machinists and restorers, is concerned these crafts are being forgotten.
He said: “Demand for upholstery is always high. “But demand for a good upholsterer is even higher.
“Restorers are in the same boat and can charge up to £200 an hour.”
Mr Harris is also worried that cheaper alternatives are pulling the price of quality furniture down.
“Things you could get £1,000 for in the 1970s you can’t get £200 for today”, he said. “There are no fun shops anymore – they are all boring, full of stuff from China.”
Follow The Chairman & Son on Instagram / @chairmaninteriors / @JonesNDarcy
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