The FULL T21 SUITE (pair of chairs AND matching 3-seater sofa) SOLD for $5000 + $400 extra for the full suite to be delivered into Melbourne. This suite attracted several very strong offers from buyers all over Australia for well above our listed reserve price.
This suite SOLD UNDER CONSIGNMENT in early 2020 from my client’s home in Outer Caboolture, North Brisbane. iNVISeDGE has been employed by our vendor to handle all aspects of the sale on her behalf.
Background Info and Provenance
(Written in 2020)
This is arguably the most sought-after chair design to ever come out of Australia. The Contour range by Grant Featherston is probably the most collectable in terms of dollar-value, but this one, the T21 swivel chair, released by Tessa in the early 1970’s, is easily the most asked-for vintage chair through our website. When I experienced sitting in a Tessa T21 swivel for the first time, I instantly knew why so many people have asked to buy them. The quality just jumps out at you but it’s the comfort everyone is after! … OMG … after sitting in the Tessa T21 for the first time I didn’t want to ever get up! During lock-down (March-May 2020) I had phone calls from people almost on a daily basis asking for T21 swivel chairs or suites. I sold my last Tessa T21 chair the day before lock-down- it has taken me 3 months to get more (and I only got this suite because it’s under consignment).
It was worth the wait. I think this lighter-coloured leather looks amazing on this design. This is a bold design- the light-coloured leather pares it back a few notches. This suite is nowhere near as imposing as black or dark-brown T21’s. I can even picture this suite in a small apartment. The footprint of these chairs is not big but visually these chairs can normally be quite imposing. With this light-coloured suite there’s even a minimalist slant to it. This suite is upholstered in 100% TOP-GRAIN BOVINE LEATHER. I normally steer clear of TOP-GRAIN leather because it’s usually very processed and quickly rips and falls apart. This suite however is from 1980. Leathers aint leathers anymore. Modern-day “leathers” have left us all scratching our heads in confusion. Normally TOP-GRAIN is not a good quality leather if it was made recently. (These days they use the very TOP of the leather only. The underside of the hide has been split off to make that stupid stuff that’s mainly glue!) From about the early-1990’s on, they started doing everything they could to cut costs when producing leather. Most TOP-GRAIN leathers made over the last 20 years is VERY THIN- they’ve split off multiple layers from the underside to get even more money out of every hide. It’s an irresponsible and stupid thing to do because most modern furniture made out of Top-Grain Leather ends up as landfill in 10-20 years. Sadly, the whole item usually ends up in landfill as well, because if the frame is not as good in quality as something like this, furniture will rarely be recovered.
You’ll sometimes see second-hand Tessa suites where the leather has completely ripped at the seams- this is always MODERN Top-Grain Leather. This leather is NOT MODERN though. It’s thicker than any other top-grain leather I’ve ever experienced which is why the condition is so extraordinary for a second-hand suite of this age. I’ve even questioned whether they accidentally put the wrong label on this- it feels thicker than most modern FULL-GRAIN leathers. Our vendor’s family bought it new around 1980 (give or take 2 years on either side)- she knows this with 100% certainty because it has been in the family for so long. I don’t have to take her word on this though. I took photos of the underside of this suite. I spotted a Tessa stamp only used on Tessa Furniture from 1977 to about 1982. Plus after studying my files the labels on the backs of the cushions are those used by Tessa in the late-1970’s to very early 1980’s. The address of Tessa on the label is also where Tessa operated around 1980 (Tessa moved quite a few times over the years.)
By now you’ll probably be asking why I’m harping on so much about the year of production for this suite. It’s imperative in determining value of Tessa Furniture. It dictates how good the leather will be and therefore how long your suite will last for.
After a 50-year stint in the Australian Marketplace, making virtually ALL their furniture in AUSTRALIA, Tessa Furniture died in 2019. It’s a sorry state of affairs when an Australian business can no longer do what they do so well because of cheap imports destined to end up as landfill. And this is the very reason why Tessa eventually died. Their designs are so well-made that vintage second-hand Tessa pieces ended up becoming more sought-after than new Tessa Furniture. And who can blame people going straight to the second-hand market for designs such as this? The QUALITY of this design is so exceptional that second-hand ones (in quality upholstery / leather) often still look basically new after 10, 20, 30, even 40 years of use. In this listing you’re getting chairs that look close to new but they’re about one quarter the price of new ones!
Today in 2020, I believe this chair- the T21 swivel chair by Tessa- is THE best investment in the furniture marketplace. Everyone seems to want them, they are NO LONGER in production so more people will hang onto theirs for a lifetime of enjoyment. Therefore, less and less will be coming onto the secondary market. T21 chairs retailed NEW for about $4400 EACH just before Tessa went under- at my price (not much more than ONE QUARTER retail) it should be obvious to anybody that the only way the value of these chairs can go, is up.
This pair of chairs is 40 years old and look at them! Just incredible! No guessing the quality here (including the leather). After much of the world’s furniture ends up as landfill, these chairs will be passed onto another user and eventually a new generation. Now that Tessa Furniture is not made anymore, I can’t see any reason why this design (made in AUSTRALIA) won’t slowly increase to the value they were selling for new (ie. $4400 EACH). There’s no better way I can think of to invest in your home, the future of our environment and local community.