Designer Mac Collins went on the trip of a lifetime when he was awarded the Timothy Oulton Best in Show Prize at the 2018 Young Furniture Makers exhibition, organised by The Furniture Makers’ Company.

Originally from Nottingham, Mac studied Three-Dimensional Design at Northumbria University in Newcastle, graduating in summer 2018.

Since then he has remained as a designer in residence at the university. Last year he submitted Iklwa, an ultramarine stained timber lounge chair, in the Bespoke category of the 2018 Young Furniture Maker Awards. 

The judges were suitably impressed and shortlisted the design for the prize, which resulted in Mac being invited to exhibit the piece at the Young Furniture Makers exhibition at Furniture Makers’ Hall and the Dutch Church in October 2018.

Little did Mac know that on the day of the exhibition Iklwa had been spotted by Charlie Oulton of global British furniture brand Timothy Oulton and selected to receive a very special prize, the Timothy Oulton Best in Show Prize, an all-expenses paid trip to Timothy Oulton’s manufacturing base in Hong Kong.

Mac visited the company earlier this year from 17-23 March. While in Hong Kong, he got to see the Timothy Oulton bar, store and studios. He also got to travel with the Timothy Oulton team to mainland China by ferry to see the company’s workshops and studios, as well as the Lychee Garden Hotel that was designed and built by the business.

Mac said: “We spent time in the workshops seeing the indigo dying process, woodworking shops, upholstery and metal works.  It was eye-opening to see the scale of the studio spaces and the workshops in China. I had imagined a factory style approach, however they run as specialist workshops, just on a much larger scale.”

The trip proved not only a journey of discovery about Timothy Oulton, but also for Mac on a personal level as the team spent time giving him invaluable career advice.

“I was taken on tours of the Timothy Oulton studios, independently tailing various designers and makers and having one to one tutoring about how to approach the industry and looking through and commenting on my portfolio, website and work. I also had to present my work to a large group of Timothy Oulton staff from all over the world who had accumulated in China for a week of training.”

The trip was clearly an enriching experience for Mac and not something he could have done without the support of The Furniture Makers’ Company and the generosity of Timothy Oulton.

“I’d like to thank Timothy Oulton for sponsoring the award and trip and Charlie Oulton for choosing me at the Young Furniture Makers Exhibition 2018. I would also like to thank everyone I met on the trip who guided me around the studios and, in their free time, around Hong Kong. Despite being located in various places around the world, I am still in good contact with some of them now. This trip is not something I would have been able to do if not for the award, so I am very grateful.”

“I’d like to thank Timothy Oulton for sponsoring the award and trip and Charlie Oulton for choosing me at the Young Furniture Makers Exhibition 2018"