James Lowther bought his first piece of lacquer in 1999 whilst travelling in Burma, an antique betel box in burnt orange which remains one of his favorite things. He learned about the lacquer process and began to appreciate the patience, skill and attention to detail that goes into the finest examples.

James discovered the most highly skilled lacquer craftsmen in Saigon, Vietnam, where all The Lacquer Company's pieces are made to this day.

Designers such as Rita Konig, Miles Redd and Veere Grenney collaborate with James, combining Western design with Eastern craftsmanship.


Over the course of a decade working in events and interior design in New York, James frequently visited Asia in search of lacquer. He wanted to bring this ancient craft from the East to contemporary designs in the West, creating pieces that are equally at home in a city apartment, beach house or country house.

James’ approach to design has developed with a clean, modern sensibility whilst retaining English influences from his first job at Colefax & Fowler in London.

The Lacquer Company was founded by James in 2008 and he now divides his time between London, New York and Saigon.


Base layers of Sinh are first applied; a glue-like substance to harden and protect the wood. We sand between each layer to help the Sinh absorb and we wrap larger pieces in thin cotton gauze to further strengthen the finish and prevent cracking.

Natural lacquer is next applied and mixed with fine ground mountain rock, alluvium soil and cashew nut shell oil. This special mix is known as Hom and each layer dries in its own time before being wet-sanded in fresh water with fine carbon paper until perfectly smooth. We repeat this step of the process over and over again.

The next few layers are known as Lot and form a strong lining mostly consisting of cashew nut shell oil. Finally, the colour is applied, wet-sanded in layers and the decoration is meticulously hand painted.

There is no prescribed drying time, no set number of layers; regardless of the desired finish, from ultra matte to high gloss, the lacquer is applied and polished until perfect.


Son Mai lacquer has been produced in Vietnam for centuries and is among the world’s finest. Our skilled craftsmen create handmade pieces according to their own instincts and experience. This means that each piece we produce is truly unique whilst upholding our commitment to the world’s finest Son Mai lacquer.


Handmade lacquer is a delicate material and may be scratched or marred. Clean only with a very soft, damp cloth (paper towels can be too abrasive). If scratches appear, Turtle Wax or similar car wax may be gently applied and polished to restore the finish.