Parker Furniture – an Australian Success Story

When Jack Parker started making kitchen furniture in 1935, could he have foreseen that his company will become one of Australia’s greatest industrial success stories?

Over the first few years of its existence, the Parker furniture company established such a countrywide reputation for quality and innovation that from the 1950’s through the 1980’s it seemed that everybody wanted to own a piece of Parker, a dining table and chairs, or a Parker sideboard.

In a new millennium, with almost everything we know being ultra high tech and new, it seems that everybody still wants to own a piece of Parker furniture.

But here is the kicker!  There seems to have been a time warp!

Everybody still wants to own the same pieces of Parker that were so sought after 50 to 70 years ago. Vintage furniture is in high demand along with Australia’s own Parker retro furniture.

Retro Parker Dining Tables, Chairs and Sideboards

All of Parker vintage tables, chairs and sideboards are considered prize acquisitions.  The Parker success story is one of a family whose members were all committed to quality and leadership.  Jack’s son, Tony joined the business in 1949, soon to be followed by younger brother, Ross.

Tony went to study in Europe and returned with modern mid-century furniture designs, particularly from Denmark.  A range of “Danish Parker Style” furniture was introduced early in the 1950s.  This Danish furniture and broader Scandinavian design style grew in popularity and lasted through the 1960s.

During this period, many iconic designs were established, with features such as recessed handles and brass butt hinges.

The Parker innovations included new wood choices ranging from Queensland Maple to Teak, particularly Teak from Burma and Thailand.  In the 1960’s, American Walnut was used for more traditional furniture. Parker was often the first furniture manufacturer to upgrade machinery to incorporate new techniques.

In the 1950’s, Parker guaranteed the structural aspects of all their furniture for 10 years.  Judging by demand for these vintage pieces today, it seems that was very conservative of them!

Parker furniture has almost become a blanket term for iconic Australian mid-century furniture design. Parker Furniture has achieved almost cult status in Australia competing with Eames, Hans Wegner, Arne Jacobsen and many other notable mid-century, retro designers.

For details on the Parker success story, read Alan Perry’s series on the Australian furniture makers, which appeared in the Woodworkers Association of NSW newsletter:   Part 1  Part 2 and Part 3.


Parker Furniture at Collectika in Burleigh Heads

One of the specialties of Collectika is re-birthing Parker Furniture.  We do this either by restoration or by teaming up with contemporary fabrics and giving it a fresh twist.  We regularly have a prize selection of Parker coffee tables, dining tables, chairs and sideboards in stock. Visit our store or browse our current stock items through the category links at the top of the page.