The listed price is for the 2-seater Chiswell sofa only- the pair of chairs are priced separately! For sale under consignment by a regular iNVISeDGE seller in the GOLD COAST but Australia-wide freight can be arranged for a reasonable additional price. As an example of cost, it’d cost about $200 to get this sofa to Sydney.
Provenance and Background Info
(Written in 2021)
An incredible Chiswell Furniture 2-seater sofa (the matching pair of chairs are priced SEPARATELY). I’d say this suite was made in the late-1980’s. The label has a 7-digit phone number on it, so this suite is definitely pre-1994 (8-digit phone numbers rolled out in Sydney in 1994). For something that’s about 30 years old, this furniture is nothing short of astounding- just look at the condition!
What’s also incredible is the investment appeal on offer. The craftsmanship is second to none. Chiswell Furniture is a furniture institution that ran for 300 years, starting in England around 1700! In the early-1900’s, the Chiswell Brothers emigrated to Australia bringing with them traditional furniture-making skills that had been passed down through their family for centuries. I always thought that the construction of Chiswell Furniture was exceptional- the history of Chiswell Furniture gives irrefutable evidence of why. The Chiswell Brothers started in Glebe (Sydney) in 1920, producing fine-quality English antique furniture (at a time in Australia when no-one else had the capability do this to the original quality). Orders flooded in from major department stores such as Grace Brothers and the Chiswell Furniture business quickly took off.
It was the 1950’s when Chiswell really came into its own though. The fun, 1950’s designs that Chiswell produced were the epitome of 50’s-cool but it was the workmanship reflected in these pieces that continued to stand out for me. Chiswell prospered through the 1960’s when Danish design became the trend in furniture in Australia (and the rest of the world). In the late-1960’s and early-1970’s, Chiswell produced two dining chair designs that I believe are some of the best dining chairs ever produced in Australia. The designs themselves are an intriguing mix of bold and sleek refinement, but it’s the workmanship that takes centre-stage again. The centuries of tradition passed down through the family shines through in all their work- they’re incredibly well-built, SOLID chairs and whenever I come across them these days I still marvel at the quality.
With a solid reputation, Chiswell continued to operate in Sydney through the 1980’s which was when this design was produced. The construction quality is obvious yet again. If work of this callibre was still produced in Australia today, a full suite like this would be priced at about $7000 (probably more though). See the screenshot included in our listing- there’s a vintage Parker lounge suite currently for sale on Gumtree in Sydney for $12,000! As far as quality is concerned, this Chiswell suite is in line with that. Look at the joint areas here- so perfectly crafted. Curves in timber are not easy to create but there’s absolutely no indication of difficulty showing in Chiswell’s work. This furniture portrays the sheer opposite- a effortless combination of grace with the technical skills of craftspeople at the height of their game.
It saddens me to think that these skills are all but dead in Australia today- there’s very little work like this happening here anymore. The Australian furniture industry was once so highly-regarded that our furniture was exported to the world. Unfortunately this industry has basically died these days and these skills may soon be lost. :+(
There has been plenty written about Chiswell’s rise to fame. An article written on the NSW Woodworkers website in 2013 details this beautifully- it was supposed to be a 2-part article. I can’t find the second part anywhere- half way through the Chiswell story it ends with … to be continued. From what I can garner, Chiswell went out business (well of course it did, how can we possibly compete with Chinese labour?). I have no idea when this happened. The Chiswell name lives on (apparently) but the original Chiswell Furniture business died years ago.
The sofa on offer here ticks all the boxes. A stylish, timeless design, exceptional QUALITY and durability, plus practicality too (the armrests are NOT upholstered so the arms won’t wear out or look dirty). Also, the practicality extends to re-upholstery (the upholstery job here is easy- these are loose cushions sitting on a frame, even if the cushions were a soft fabric, cleaning the covers here would be cinch). Last but not least, the comfort is just as exceptional as the craftsmanship. Look at the angles- this furniture will hold you perfect seating position, the back is pretty high too for extra support plus there’s a lot of plushness here. I can feel myself melting into this lounge after a hard day just by looking at the photos!
The demand for furniture built to last generations has reached fever-pitch since COVID lockdowns. Anything built in Australia is in the highest demand I’ve ever experienced in the 20 years I’ve been in this business. Perhaps this may prompt furniture-makers in Australia to venture back into this domain. I feel this is still some time off but the tide is turning… Items of this callibre are being snapped up faster than ever. The Chiswell tags with the 7-digit phone numbers also give you a no-brainer investment here. I can’t see furniture like this losing any value in the future at all. In fact, I can only see it further increasing in value as demand continues to soar. The supply is diminishing- there are a finite number of pieces like this existence. It’s a win for you, a win for our environment and a win for local industry. Whenever you buy from iNVISeDGE you’re supporting various small family-owned businesses.
Sorry this description is so long but I think it’s important to get this story out there. I need to add one last thing to create a well-rounded article. This suite is upholstered in TOP-GRAIN leather. FULL-GRAIN leather is the best you can get. Top-Grain is second-quality leather. This leather MAY not last as long as Full-Grain leather. In saying that though regular cleaning and conditioning will always prolong the life of any real leather. (And this still is real-leather.) Plus- it’s Top-Grain leather from the late-1980’s- this leather is about 30 years old. The quality of Top-Grain leather of 30 years ago and Top-Grain leathers of today are two entirely different things. Older leathers tend to be better made. The colour is best described as duck-egg blue with a grey overtone. This tone is quite neutral with a subtle pop of pale-blue. I think the colour works very well with the timber tone.