France & Sons

FRANCE AND SONS

 

Founded in 1948 by the British businessman Charles France and his Danish partner Inger Daverkosen. In the early years the company was called France & Daverkosen, Charles's son James joined the company in 1957 which resulted in the name change to France & Son.

At the very beginning the company produced mattresses. They then developed the idea to use two simple loose sprung cushions on their first chairs which would pave the way for a whole new generation of minimalist framed modernist chairs.

In 1952 the company moved to their new factory in Hillerod around twenty miles north west of Copenhagen, France & Son was one of the first Danish furniture manufacturers to have a purpose built factory specifically designed for their needs, most other companies had evolved from very humble cabinet makers premises.

The company was at the very vanguard of modern design and came to epitomise the Danish modern aesthetic. They had an incredible rostra of designers producing work for them which reads like a who's who of design at the time, they included Arne Vodder, Grete Jalk, Peter Hvidt & Orla Molgaard Nielsen, Inger Klingenberg, Finn Juhl, Ole Wanscher, Greve Sigvard Bernadotte and Edvard & Tove Kindt Larsen.

The designer Finn Juhl was desperate to find a way to machine teak his favourite timber on an industrial scale.  Teak has a very high gum content, previous attempts to machine it industrially had failed as the saw would be dull after a dozen uses.


In 1953 Charles France introduced an industrial technique that revolutionised the Danish furniture industry. He developed the use of a tungsten-carbide alloy saw which did not dull when sawing teak wood.With this new method Charles France worked with Finn Juhl to launch the first industrially manufactured furniture produced from teak, the Model 133 Spadestolen chair.


Teak furniture became synonymous with the Danish Modern style and the furniture industry would never be the same again. France & Daverkosen/Son would be the biggest importer of teak timber from Thailand for a number of years. Although this was mass produced furniture it was always forefront in Charles Frances mind from the very beginning that quality would not suffer as a consequence of the manufacturing process. Charles is quoted to have said that he wanted his furniture to be the 'Rolls Royce of furniture'.

 

At its peak France & Son employed around 350 staff. .France & Son furniture was marketed as a premium brand. Their main headquarters in the UK was to be found on Bond Street Mayfair with the furniture being retailed through high end outlets such as Harrods & Heals.

France & Son was sold to the Danish designer Poul Cadovius in 1967, the company continued to trade under the France & Son name for a couple more years before Cadovius renamed the company Cado. Cado continued producing furniture from the factory for a further ten years.