Decorative Crafts began in 1928 under the name “Italian Crafts,” when Milton Cohn began importing Italian ceramics and leather goods. During World War II, Milton changed the name of the business to “Decorative Crafts,” stopped importing from Italy, and started selling American goods. After the war he went back to buying only Italian merchandise, from the same suppliers and agent he had used before the war. He decided to keep the new name.
Milton’s son, Richard, took over the business in the 1950’s. He phased out the Italian ceramics and leather and turned the focus to Florentine items made of wood, consisting of gifts, accessories, and small furniture. He also introduced the catalog in 1965, making Decorative Crafts one of the first companies to have one. Throughout the 1960’s the company’s reputation for having high quality Italian merchandise grew.
Searching for higher quality, fairly priced merchandise brought Richard to the Far East. Richard was one of the first Americans allowed into China, being selected by the Chinese government to attend a tour of the country designed to strengthen international trade. Being one of the first Americans allowed in China, Richard was put into the unique position of being able to bring products back to the U.S. that most Americans had never seen before. He was impressed by the talented Chinese artisans he encountered, and started importing accessories and small furniture from Hong Kong and Taiwan in the mid 70’s. Thailand and South Korea followed suit. As the 1970’s progressed, Decorative Crafts’ product line shifted towards the Far East and away from Italy.