The Iconic Octogenarian Designer Tony Parker

Quality high-end furniture designed by Tony Parker has graced the homes of Australians for generations.

Tony’s design style is timeless, his furniture pieces created for durability and versatility. “In design it boasts only of a quiet dignity; it’s practical, economical and faithfully built,” he explains.


Parker Furniture began as Dagger & Parker with Tony’s father, Jack, and Alf Dagger, a furniture maker, at the helm. The year was 1935 and the world was feeling the shockwaves of the great depression. Tony joined them in 1948 while still studying design at night school. Four years later, he wanted to acquire more knowledge, so jetted off to London and joined John Lewis, where he became instrumental in starting a contemporary furniture section.

Tony Parker

On his return, he says there was a company shake-up. “The introduction of contemporary designs did not sit comfortably with Alf Dagger, so he left the company which then became J.W.Parker Furniture,” Tony recalls. J.W.Parker exhibited at the first furniture exhibition in Australia in 1953. “We built our own stand, flooring, walls, calico ceiling and carpet and displayed in room schemes,” he says. The company was also the first manufacturer in Australia to produce casegoods, chairs and upholstery under the same roof. That same year, Parker selected suitable retail distributers for its products — with a firm proviso. “Those distributers had to allow Parker to display their products in their own area in complete room schemes,” he says.

Parker Furniture prides itself on its environmentally friendly ethos. It uses plantation-grown timbers, and foam construction and glues that also meet those standards. Tony says it has been a challenge at times due to supply shortages. “Unfortunately, as a result of meeting price points over the years, environmentally friendly quality fabrics are hard to procure,” he explains.

Tony’s inspiration is drawn from his subconscious musings. “Those creative thoughts that result from dreamtime,” he says. His design dreams and goals centre on raising awareness so discerning clients can enjoy quality products that will endure. “I wish that people would stop chasing the bottom dollar and search for quality and thoughtful professional service in their quest for the right product,” he says. Tony retired in 1995 and is also an advisor and ambassador of Covesmore Solutions, providing his invaluable advice once a week.

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