Visite : Ateliers James 1840

For almost two centuries, James - named after its founder, Celestin James - stands out with high quality woodworking. Small cabinetmaker workshop originally, the house has quickly grown, becoming a reference in the edition of contemporary wooden furniture, then in the arrangement of prestigious places. Thomas Guinet, General Manager of James 1840, has opened the doors of their workshop located in Saint-Laurent-de-Cuve (50), a place as amazing as historical.

The story begins in 1840, Saint-Laurent-de-Cuve (50), in the unpretentious workshop of Celestin James. Specialist in handmade furniture, the Norman carpenter transmits his exceptional know-how to the following generations. In 1983, the 5ème of the name, Rémi James, makes take to the family business a new dimension, and passes, in the following years, the development of Norman cabinets to that of high-end designer furniture, then puts the space planner cap, embellishing hotels, restaurants and other spaces renowned for their virtuosity. The trigger ? An awareness of the competition in the cabinetmaking market that motivates Rémi James to diversify his sector of activity. And what a good idea!

Still based in Saint-Laurent-de-Cuve, the workshops have gone from small confidential premises to real headquarters of almost 5 000 square meters today. A significant expansion of the still very strong involvement of James 1840 in his time. Producer of small scale furniture, the company adapts to the end of the 1980 years to the new world that presents itself to it. In 1989, the fall of the Berlin Wall marks the opening of borders and triggers many imports from countries previously absent from the market, which is changing. It is also the time of the advent of Ikea and others that completely change the consumption patterns, all against a backdrop of major economic crisis. It is therefore crucial for companies already in place to comply with this new world.


Thus in 1993, Rémi James acquires a new know-how: project management, which adds to an acute knowledge of cabinetmaking. "What changes most is the concept of construction, monitoring and interaction with other trades. When we make furniture, we make it and install it. When we do the layout, we are linked to all stages of the development of the project », says Thomas Guinet. The first major export project is born in 1998: it is a private mansion in Sao Paulo (Brazil) which highlights the avant-garde and entrepreneurial character of Rémi James. "Today it may seem common to travel the world to achieve a project, but at the time, it should not be cold. " continues the current managing director. This is followed by the opening of a subsidiary in Turkey - now closed - (2002), collaborations in Morocco and Eastern Europe, as well as a restructuring focused more on hotels in 2008 and above all more legislated. "Before the crisis, there was more carelessness in our field. The crisis puts an end to this, especially with the arrival of AMOs and stricter regulations. This forced us to position ourselves differently in relation to the competition, to multiply the exceptional projects and to grow ". And prestigious achievements, the company does not count them anymore! From the hotel Molitor (16ème arrondissement) to the Carrousel du Louvre (1er arrondissement) through the Museum of Natural History of Bordeaux (33), the Norman planners offer their expertise to the high places of the hotel, culture and Trade.

If today James 1840 gathers several craft companies and answers to various problems, the company keeps a desire to value the know-how of cabinetmaker by favoring the employment of Compagnons du Devoir, the current director having been there himself form. Sailing between tradition and innovation, the firm has just developed Selun - or BHS for "hybrid wood biosourced" - a revolutionary material with amazing properties. These particle boards composed of wood flour and cellulose have the special feature of being free of formaldehyde, a toxic vapor emanating in particular from glue and plastic, classified as carcinogen category 1B 2014. In addition, they are thermoformable, weldable and 100% reusable, which marks a real ethical and ecological advance in the field of construction.

Well established on the market of the wood and the arrangement of spaces, James 1840 seems to open a new chapter to an already well filled history.

To learn more, visit the site of James 1840

Photographs: Zoe Térouinard for Muuuz

Zoe Térouinard

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