Cabinet Maker explores the next generation of furniture designers in the latest Young Furniture Makers Exhibition.

Jan waterston's velo rocking stool[1]

Jan Waterston’s Velo Rocking Stool

The furniture industry is one that continues to evolve and adapt to an ever changing environment that consumes it. From different trends, re-establishing old tastes with a modern twist and even the incorporation of technology as the era is well into the digital age, there’s one thing that the industry heavily relies on, the inspiration of the next generation.

The lifeblood of a fast moving industry The Young Furniture Makers is dedicated to students and young professionals who have one thing in common – they are passionate about furniture, furnishings and the future of design. Its creator, The Furniture Makers’ Company – the furnishing industry charity – set up the group to help young, up and coming furniture makers and designers build a network with others in the same field, and to help them on the path to forming a successful career within the industry.

Now, a decade on from its initial launch, the Young Furniture Makers Exhibition, sponsored by Axminster Tools & Machinery, celebrated its 10th year in style, bigger and better than its predecessors with more than 40 designs from some of the UK’s finest young furniture makers on display. This year’s exhibition showcased pieces from talented GCSE and A Level students through to BA and MA graduates from around the UK.

“Every year the exhibition gets bigger and better.”

Alex Crofts, chairman of the Young Furniture Makers, said: “We set up the Young Furniture Makers Exhibition so schoolchildren, students and graduates could showcase their work, and meet potential employers and members of the Company, giving them an opportunity to network and receive feedback.

“Every year the exhibition gets bigger and better and this year’s was no exception. All of the designs on show were of an incredibly high standard. We’d like to thank all of our sponsors, particularly our main sponsor, Axminster Tools & Machinery.”

Taking place on 11 October 2016 at the Furniture Makers’ Hall in London, Ben Burbidge, Master of The Furniture Makers’ Company, officially welcomed guests from the furnishing and design sector, including Cabinet Maker, as the stage was set for 2016’s budding designer prize giving ceremony.

Five categories of awards were up for grabs with winners on the night including Jan Waterson, Philipp Stummer, William Keenlyside, Ella Lemaire and Sebastian Banwell.

Ella lemaire and modular shelving

Ella lemaire and modular shelving

Sebastian banwell and coffee table

Sebastian banwell and coffee table

Jan Waterson, from Oxford College, won The Young Furniture Makers Bespoke Award, sponsored by Festool, for his Velo Rocking Stool. Philipp Stummer from Warwickshire College won The Young Furniture Makers Design Award, sponsored by Crofts & Assinder, for his Mini Maestro, as well as The Blum Best in Show Prize, which included an all-expenses paid trip to the state of the art Blum factory in Austria.

Philipp stummer and mini maestro

Philipp Stummer

Other winners on the night were William Keenlyside from Kingston University, who received the The Young Furniture Makers Innovation Award, sponsored by Crofts & Assinder, for The Pour Man’s Stool, and joint winners Ella Lemaire and Sebastian Banwell, who won the B&Q Homefit School Prize and both received a cash prize for their school and vouchers for themselves, plus an all-expenses paid trip to the state of the art Blum factory in Austria.

Speaking to Cabinet Maker after the event, Philipp Stummer, said: “I am delighted to have won both the Design Award and Best in Show Prize. I am happy that so many talented designer and makers, young and old, were brought together for their work to be recognised.

“There was a tremendous amount of interest, respect and interaction with the public, parents, friends, experts of the trade and The Furniture Makers’ Company. Thank you to the organisers and all who were involved to make that day happen.”

William keenlyside's pour man's stool

William keenlyside’s pour man’s stool

William Keenlyside added: “I had an incredible day. It was a fantastic opportunity to meet some very talented young furniture makers and have a great day of networking and meeting new people. Everybody at the Furniture Makers was incredibly friendly, welcoming and had some valuable knowledge and experience to offer in terms of pursuing a career in design.”

The individual pieces on display bode well for the future of the furniture industry, and even those designers who didn’t win an award praised the event, which has become an important date in the dairy every year. First timer Sean Evelegh said he was ‘very grateful for the experience’ and has inspired him for the future.

Sean said: “It was great for me to meet woodworkers and craftsmen. I’ve made lots of contacts and friends who will help my on my journey in my furniture career. It was the first time I’ve shown my work in a public exhibition and I’ve learnt a lot and it has made me want to make even better furniture so that I can present it in more exhibitions.”

Another designer, Harry Simister from Elizabeth Woodville School, had to settle for second in the Schools design award, but was ‘honoured’ to be involved in a valuable experience.

Harry said: “I felt honoured to firstly be invited to the event, which enlightened me on further carrier options in the design industry which I felt was extremely valuable and informative. It was brilliant to see final year university projects as I plan to go to university and it was inspiring to see the standard of work carried out by these students.

“I was able to take home a runners up prize and also take home £75 for myself and £250 for the school DT department which is an extremely generous gift from the sponsors. The whole experience has helped to further my motivation for a career in design and given me the belief and confidence in my abilities I need to carry on in the design industry.”

As industries go, furniture is one that breathes passion, perfection and people. And it’s these budding young designers that will hope to transform the industry for another decade to come. Congratulations to all involved on yet another successful showcase of furniture design talent.