In 1987 Julian Chichester left his job as a market trader in the City and went travelling through Thailand with the idea of buying furniture. ‘In the early days it was very low-key and relaxed: I had a motorbike with a sidecar to put pieces in,’ recalls the designer, who began selling his eclectic selection of furniture and decorative homeware (fourposter beds, teak sculptures, ikat silks) from a shop on Portobello Road. Later he started designing teak garden furniture himself, followed, in 1995, by his first interior collection of five pieces, all in black with gilt detail, which launched to great acclaim at Decorex in Chicago.
Julian’s eponymous business grew organically; today his furniture is showcased in hotels around the world, including London’s Berkeley hotel, the Twelve Apostles in Cape Town and the Astoria in St Petersburg. He has a handful of showrooms in London and New York and has just opened another in Atlanta. ‘The very nice thing about what I do is that I have never felt as if I had to have a certain look or repeatedly use the same materials,’ he says, discussing the breadth of his furniture collection. ‘Our pieces are always completely fresh, made to different styles and with a variety of finishes all going into the mix.’
I have never felt as if I had to have a certain look or repeatedly use the same materials. Our pieces are always completely fresh, made to different styles, with a variety of finishes