Ever Inspired – Georgia Danos of James Richardson Furniture

Words by Sarah Sivaraman
Photography by Sean Fennessy & Marcel Aucar
Images courtesy of James Richardson Furniture

As Creative & Brand Director at the helm of her family business, James Richardson Furniture (JRF), Georgia Danos celebrates the company’s historic origins and brings it decidedly into the present with a flurry of inspiration.

Georgia’s day-to-day work is a dynamic blend of internal meetings with sales and product teams and meetings with clients, partners and collaborators. “No two days are the same, that is for sure,” says Georgia. “Being a design brand, what we’re striving for is really that brand exposure, getting the JRF brand out there,” she continues. “We always talk about being a brand to inspire, so a big part of what I do, and what I love to do, is inspire the team and inspire the industry around the JRF brand.”

For a long time, Georgia was certain she would be an architect. She pursued her childhood dream all the way to university, only to realise that reality of the profession would keep her away from that which she loved – meeting new people and building relationships. Post-graduate studies abroad in fashion business led Georgia to spot a gap in the Australian market. “I opened a multi-brand fashion business called Grace, which imported brands, mainly from New York and Paris, that weren’t in Australia,” Georgia explains of the business to which she dedicated over 12 years.

However, in 2018, James Richardson Furniture was at a crossroads and Georgia felt the pull of the family legacy. “I’m third generation in the family business,” she explains. “It’s a pretty amazing story. My Papa, David Mandie, our founder, was 12 and had to leave school because it was the Depression and he had to go and work in the family business.” That business was a barber shop that sold tobacco. As David grew the business grew, becoming a tobacco distributor. In the 1930s, David acquired a liquor distribution business from the estate of James Richardson and began wholesaling and distributing liquor and tobacco. In Europe for business, David was introduced to the original Michael Thonet bentwood furniture factory.

Georgia recounts that David “figured he had the full database. He was already selling liquor and tobacco to every restaurant, club, pub, hotel in the country – why not sell them chairs?”. Incredibly, an agreement to import the original Thonet bentwood furniture into Australia for the first time came about with a handshake deal. “That was in 1956, and that handshake deal is still in place,” says Georgia. “We are their oldest standing client worldwide. Part of who we are now really goes back to those foundations of partnership.”

Incredibly, an agreement to import the original bentwood furniture into Australia for the first time came about with a handshake deal.

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Fast forward to 2018, when a collaboration with Ross Didier prompted the need for a brand refresh. “There was a need for, I guess ironically, a bit of fashion and a bit of love,” says Georgia. With her relevant experience, Georgia stepped into market JRF to the architecture and design community. She oversaw a substantial rebrand, bringing her passion for design to the historic company. “The architecture and design world didn’t know that we had the [TON] originals,” Georgia recalls. “It was such an amazing opportunity to reposition JRF as a design brand that was representative of these stunning European brands like TON, Miniforms, Pedrali, and collaborating on exclusive ranges with Ross Didier.”

Georgia’s delight in design, no matter the form, is evident. In a role that sets out to inspire, Georgia herself is endlessly inspired by fine art and travel, by her team and her clients, and by the JRF product range. With a background in architecture and fashion and her current role at JRF, Georgia makes a case for the interconnectedness of the applied arts – these functional parts of everyday existence, all of which engage aesthetics, creativity and business, with the capacity to make life undeniably more pleasurable.