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Our rich history of crafting quality furniture to our customers’ exacting standards began in 1903 when our first product was a bed, bureau and washstand suite made from native oak and sold for $14.50, wholesale. From that very first suite produced, Drexel Heritage has always taken a stylish eye toward helping our customers complete their homes with classic furniture that has a timeless beauty. Because of this, our company has enjoyed an irrefutable reputation for superior design, underscored today by the fact that Drexel Heritage is sold only in the finest furniture stores and design studios in the country.
As early as the 1930s, Drexel Heritage employed dedicated staff designers as one of the first furniture companies to commit fulltime resources to style and design. This early designer team created a top-selling collection that was influenced by the demand for reproductions of famous English cabinetmakers and inspired by French designs. Called Touraine, this Louis XV-inspired bedroom and dining room group was widely popular for several decades, is considered to be one of the industry’s first well-known success stories and continues to be highly sought-after by collectors.
Understanding our customers’ fine appreciation for aesthetics and their hunger for design inspiration, we began our home and garden magazine advertising in the 1940s in publications that provided style-savvy editorial coverage with a flair for fashion. Within a few years and into the 1950s, much of that editorial coverage actually featured Drexel Heritage, as we increasingly became known as a leading manufacturer of traditional, transitional and modern furniture.
During this era, we also established our foothold as a quintessential American brand. Wartime commitments resulted in the production of 50,000 government desks and 4,000 bedroom suites that we made for government housing at Oak Ridge, Tennessee. While these numbers are impressive, our proudest contribution was perhaps that of a single desk. A group of employees dedicated their personal time to crafting a custom desk for General Douglas MacArthur. The General’s letter of thanks remains in our archives today.
Several other factors in the 1950s were significant contributions to who we are today. We pioneered the concept of partnering with outside designers to conceptualize new collections. For example, California modernists Kip Stewart and Stewart McDougall worked with Drexel Heritage to create Declaration, which was a modern collection made of natural walnut. Immediately hailed as an important contribution to American design, several pieces were selected by the U.S. Government Design Committee for the Brussels World’s Fair and an exhibit in Moscow.
Even then, Drexel Heritage was a beloved American brand with appeal to customers who desired a varied selection of exquisite furnishings, both in the United States and abroad. This continued into the 1960s with an Italian-design inspired collection that was a complete grouping of furniture, carpets and accessories, and another called Esperanto which was, in fact, considered the international language of furniture. Enthusiastically accepted by our customers, Esperanto was advertised as “an inspired blend of Mediterranean flavors, exciting in its rhythm, satisfying in its proportion.”
Our customers in the 1970s continued to rely on Drexel Heritage to help them express individual style and tastes. More than ever, lifestyle was closely linked to how to decorate your living space. Whether you revered the past, admiring rooms steeped in an elegant formality, or you preferred a casual home capable of hosting impromptu dinners around your kitchen table, Drexel Heritage designers were there to help you reflect your individual way of life. For our customers with families, we also began to focus more on the importance of beautiful décor for children’s rooms. Our designers advised the fabrics in a child’s room should be just as easy to care for as their clothing, offering corduroy, gingham and denim as choices that were both durable and washable.
Interior design in the 1980s was marked by words such as sophistication, grace, splendor, and perhaps most of all, elegance. With careful planning and a discriminating selection of distinguished furnishings, we helped our customers create elegance in many different styles of rooms. For some, it meant finding inspiration in French, English and Asian influences and mixing pine, oak, black chinoiserie, maple and wrought iron together in one home to complete an individual look of sophistication.
Elegance and sophistication evolved to relaxed elegance and natural sophistication in the 1990s. Our customers’ busy lifestyles did not give way to their desire to create beautifully appointed havens for their families, friends and themselves. Rooms had to be functional with livable style. Drexel Heritage rose to the challenge by providing multi-purpose furnishing that welcomed kids and pets one day and the most discriminating guests the next. Multi-purpose also meant feasible yet fashionable furnishings for a growing customer base who worked from home. Lustrous finishes, the warmest of woods and soft-to-the-touch leather allowed for a no-nonsense office environment, with all the comforts of home.
Regardless of preferred décor style, decade after decade it seemed nearly all of our customers expressed the same desire when they came to Drexel Heritage. “Help me make it my own.” In the 2000s, we were able to start fulfilling this simple wish like never before. In addition to almost every Drexel Heritage upholstery product being custom made, we offer choices of finishes, hardware, and other details. This means that the options to personalize your home are almost endless.
Welcome to the 2010s. Like you, time has taught us to hone our ability to know when to say yes to trends and when to hold true to traditional classics – and more importantly, how to overlay the two, creating a look that is fresh yet timeless. Over the years at Drexel Heritage, we’ve experienced an evolution from essentials to inspiration, marked by the grace that you, our customers, have demonstrated in refining your own sense of style to create homes that welcome, comfort, entertain, restore, inspire and energize. Thank you for taking this journey with us.