• Michael J. Knell

Durham launches licensed George Washington line

Durham Furniture is launching here its licensed George Washington: Architect line, the first in a series of furniture collections inspired by the life, home and character of the famed U.S. Founding Father.

The initial effort, Durham's first licensed furniture, encompasses 20 bedroom pieces, including four bed styles, at retail price points of US$1,249 to US$1,499. Five home office items — an executive desk, writing desk, credenza with bookcase hutch and a lateral file — also will be offered, marking Durham's entry into the home office category.

The company, based in Durham, Ontario, plans to add dining room furniture in October, and anticipates additional bedroom and home office pieces in the coming months.

Made of North American maple, the collection features physical distressing, dry brush glazing and soft, burnished highlights, creating an aged, acquired look to each piece. Heavy, antique brass hardware has flat, grooved sides and a subtle bead-and-twist motif on the face.

The collection is licensed by the Mount Vernon Ladies' Assn., the non-profit society dedicated to the preservation of Washington's estate since acquiring it in 1858.

In addition to being a soldier and statesman, Washington had a keen interest in architecture, which is evident throughout his Mount Vernon estate in Virginia.

"This passion serves as the basic inspiration for the George Washington: Architect collection," said Michael Scarsella, Durham's director of product development.

The collection's main design element, a heart-shaped scroll motif, is adapted from the decorative crown molding in the central passageway of the mansion, and is incorporated into the collection's beds, mirrors and doors.

"Our design team has spent the past year immersed in Washington history," Scarsella said. "The staff at Mount Vernon has been a tremendous asset in helping us build this initial collection. Every design detail has been a collaborative effort, with exciting results.

"Durham's reputation for producing solid-wood furniture of the highest quality and design dovetails perfectly with Washington's own meticulous attention to detail and appreciation for superior craftsmanship," he said.

Supporting the launch is a myriad of point-of-purchase and educational materials, including tear sheets, hangtags, interior drawer signature plates and display banners depicting Mount Vernon.

The first Mount Vernon pieces will be shipped to dealers in May.

"Our reps have been on the road with renderings and photographs of the product since just after the first of the year, and the response has been incredible," said Durham President Steve Wilson. "We've already moved a follow-up cutting ahead to July to cover the demand."

Mount Vernon remains much as it did 200 years ago when Washington lived and worked there. "By partnering with the Mount Vernon Ladies' Assn., Durham Furniture hopes to provide consumers with a glimpse into the life and legacy of George Washington and inspire them to learn more about this great man," Wilson said.

"The Mount Vernon Home Collection represents a more relaxed, inspirational side of Mount Vernon, and is designed with a flavor of the past mixed with all the ingredients for today's life," said Beverly Addington, director of licensing at Mount Vernon.

A portion of the proceeds from the collection will support the association in its preservation and educational endeavors.

Michael KnellMichael J. Knell | Contributing Editor

Michael covers home furnishings news in Canada.

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