Out of Africa

Richard Wrightman ~ Modern Campaign Furniture


“Chatwin” dining chair  Walnut and Leather

“Campaign” furniture has been around since the days of Julius Cesar.  It was originally designed and manufactured for military officers, who once in the field, needed a suitable place to sit, eat, and store their belongings.  Historically, the British are credited with elevating the genre to an art form during the period know as the “Raj” (1600-1857) in India, when England set up trade outposts there.  The basic premise: campaign furniture is manufactured with the ability to be broken down into component parts and stored in wooden boxed specifically manufactured to hold those parts for transport.  In practice, stored campaign furniture was carried by servants or enlisted men to a military field camp where it was assembled for use.   With the advent of the airplane and motorcar, battlefield war changed dramatically in the early 20th century.  Campaign furniture became superfluous and time-consuming – seemingly doomed for extinction – until it was adopted by the English gentry for use while vacationing in exotic locals.  Eventually the category made its way into residential environments.  The added level of sophistication and precision required to produce furniture that is at once sturdy and collapsible requires adept skills in manufacturing… skills Richard Wrightman clearly possesses.

Wrightmans fascination with campaign furniture began in his childhood, as his father was a casual collector.  He found himself mesmerized by the idea of dismantling chairs and chests and remembering how they went back together.  Little did he know the career that lay ahead for him.  I had the pleasure of meeting him 10 years ago, and have watched his notoriety as a consummate craftsman spread in the design community.  He set up his workshop in Long Island City, before the area became trendy.   Today, he still operates in the same space and employs 6 craftsmen., each carefully trained in the steps required to produce his beautiful designs.  His collection has 35 pieces, with each piece available in several specifications – different species of wood, different wood finishes, several kinds of leather and canvas.   He is also happy to accommodate COM or COL.

Follow the link below to an interesting and informative video about his background, career path, and the intellectual process that has preceded the manifestation of each piece in his collection.


Richard Wrightmans furniture is available to the trade, as well as to private individuals directly through his atelier in NYC.  To see it in person, schedule an appointment to meet him at his workspace, it’s a fascinating opportunity to see a classical concept fused with his modern aesthetic. The collection is also represented in Chicago by Atelier Gary Lee in the Merchandise Mart, and in San Francisco by De Sousa Hughes in the SF Design Center.

The “Chatwin” chair shown above is perhaps my favorite.  After you’ve had a chance to see the entire collection online, stop back and comment about which piece you like the most… I’d like to hear from my readers!

44-01  11th Street, Long Island City   New York    718-707-0217