Jonathan Sowter


Few people are fortunate enough to know at the age of 12 what they will do for a career, but making a piece of furniture in a school woodwork class provided the spark of inspiration for a passion that has driven Jonathan Sowter for almost 30 years. Little did Jon's woodwork teacher, Mr Way, know that his encouragement in the classroom would inspire his pupil to travel around the world and ultimately to establish a thriving furniture manufacturing business in the Far East.


After the school classroom, Jon took a job in a Yorkshire furniture company and subsequently trained as a cabinet maker and graduated with a BA Hons in Furniture Design and Craft. At his university graduation show, he met Paul Maitland-Smith, a well known London antique dealer and maker of reproduction furniture since 1957, and the next thing he knew he was on his way to Rajasthan to establish a furniture factory.


After 2 years in India, Jon moved on to Vietnam and has lived there ever since, with an independent furniture making business of his own since 2004. Starting with just 10 people in a small factory, Jon has now built a business of more than 1,000 craftsmen (and women - in fact mostly women!) all of whom are well trained artisans capable of producing top quality furniture to the highest possible global standards.


Jon loves to keep pushing the boundaries of the business, and particularly enjoys exploring new methodologies and materials. Some years ago, for example, Jon designed an oyster secretary cabinet which was so ornate that hardware from his regular suppliers could not do it justice. The only solution was for the factory to make the hardware from scratch and from that day onwards all brass and bronze fittings on Jonathan Charles furniture has been made in the foundry on site within the factory - something which makes Jon very proud.