Cabinet Maker interviews independent furniture designer and maker, as well as winner of the Young Furniture Makers’ Design award, Philipp Stummer.
Philipp Stummer comes from the artistic background of contemporary dance, where he used to use his whole body and mind to be creative. Today, Philipp uses woodwork as another way to channel his creativity as an independent designer and maker.
Congratulations on the Young Furniture Makers award success this year. What do you think set your work apart?
Thank you very much! I already knew that the Mini Maestro achieved first prize in Design and second price in Innovation, but I was even happier when it achieved the ‘most commented on’ award. But then for it to also achieve the ‘best of show’ award, was just amazing. I believe what sets it apart is that it is designed for children and that it encourages their musical creativity. It feels really great when something that you create and believe in is appreciated by other people, especially when those people are your peers and industry professionals.
What are you currently working on/what is your current project?
I am currently working on putting the Mini Maestro into production, which is proving to be quite a challenge - but what is life without a challenge?
How did you get into the field of furniture design?
Through the college course I attended at Warwickshire College in Leamington Spa. What I have realised is that every design I work on and every piece I finish, teaches me a little more, bit by bit. I really enjoy this feeling of developing skills and growing as I continue my journey, and I know that it will always run parallel to making furniture.
”I really enjoy this feeling of developing skills and growing as I continue my journey, and I know that it will always run parallel to making furniture.”
What is your favourite material to work with?
Wood obviously. I always loved wood as a material to work with, but in the future I’d like to combine it with some metalwork skills. For the moment I’ll stick with wood though. I’m too busy to digress!
Is there a designer or company you would particularly like to work with and why?
I am always happy to work with other inspirational people - that is one of the advantages of working for myself. At the moment I feel that I need all of my focus to keep pushing my business forward, to grow my customer network and to produce perfect work.
There is nothing more rewarding then a happy customer. If that involves working with someone else, then so be it.
Of course, Frank Lloyd Wright is a legend. His work represented a breakthrough in modern design. I’m sure I’d have felt very inspired by working with him.
What is the greatest challenge faced by young furniture designers today?
If you start to work for yourself like I do, then the first challenge is to build yourself, your portfolio and your brand in the first year or so. That’s when you learn what you need to keep going.
Between commissions and specialist woodworking projects for builders and high end jobs it is possible to make a good living - the sky is the limit really. Like anything in life, the more that you believe in yourself the better life gets. Again, that is if you decide to go self-employed. If you take employment then it’s obviously a whole different story.
And how could that be combatted?
I really can’t speak for anyone else, but life is what you make it, and I choose to push myself to the limit to excel at what I enjoy and believe in. Every day is a new opportunity to go, go, go - and I’m going for it.
Can you describe yourself or your work in one word?
Is there anything else you’d like to add that hasn’t been mentioned so far?
I just want to say that I am very grateful to the people at the Warwickshire college, predominantly to Jamie Ward and Oli Renison, for supporting me on this journey so far. Also a massive thank you to Armando Magnino, for whom I worked making the Shakespeare Benches (new place in Stratford upon Avon).
They taught me everything I know and helped me reach my goal to enter a new adventure, and to achieve the successes that have happened on the way.