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Young Furniture Makers exhibition brings together breakthrough design talent


Breakthrough design talent from across the UK came together in London last month (10 October) to exhibit  for one day only at The Furniture Makers’ Company’s annual Young Furniture Makers exhibition.

Around 90 pieces of furniture and lighting from GCSE and A Level students through to BA and MA graduates packed out the Dutch Church and Furniture Makers’ Hall in Austin Friars, London, contributing to one of the best displays in the exhibition’s more than 10 year history.

The Young Furniture Makers exhibition, sponsored by Axminster Tools & Machinery, Harveys Furniture, Bensons for Beds and The Furniture Ombudsman, is completely free for participants to exhibit at and provides the next generation of designers and makers an invaluable opportunity to present their designs to key members of the furnishing and design sector.

The exhibition opened at 1.00pm with visitors soon filling the two venues to see this year’s talent. Hayden Davies, Master of The Furniture Makers’ Company, officially welcomed guests at 7.00pm before presenting this year’s awards, which were assessed during the day by a panel of distinguished judges.

This year’s judges were: Anthony Bailey, editor of Woodworking Crafts Magazine; Steven Minghella, retail sales manager at Timothy Oulton; Rupert Senior, multiple award-winning designer-maker; Peter Sharratt, technical support advisor at Blum; and Alan Styles, managing director at Axminster Tools & Machinery.

The winners of the awards were:

  • The Young Furniture Makers Bespoke Award, sponsored by Festool, was awarded to Beatrix Bray for the Fluctuare Table
  • The Young Furniture Makers Design Award, sponsored by Crofts & Assinder, was awarded to Lewis Small for the Wilf Floor Lamp
  • The Young Furniture Makers Innovation Award, sponsored by Knightsbridge, was awarded to Matt Hill for the Array Table
  • The National School Prize was awarded to Brodie Haward for the Radioactive Bench
  • The Blum Best in Show Prize was awarded to Harriet Speed for Corkey’s Cabinet
  • The Timothy Oulton Best in Show Prize was awarded to Mac Collins for the Iklwa Chair.

This year’s exhibition also included a special feature of six chairs from the Frederick Parker Collection, an educational resource owned by The Furniture Makers’ Company that includes over 200 chairs and archive material spanning 300 years of history.

Master Hayden Davies said: “The Young Furniture Makers exhibition continues to go from strength to strength and the 2018 event showed that there is a lot of exceptional, up and coming talent out there. The Young Furniture Makers exhibition brings together all elements of The Furniture Makers’ Company’s wide education output, the culmination being a tremendous celebration of incredibly gifted young designers who want to build long and successful careers in the industry.

“I would like to thank exhibition sponsors Axminster Tools & Machinery, Harveys Furniture, Bensons for Beds and The Furniture Ombudsman, as well as the awards sponsors and logistics sponsor, Celtheath, for helping make the exhibition possible.”

Lynda Stretton, head of brand at Harveys and Bensons for Beds, said: “Our relationship with The Furniture Makers’ Company, and the Young Furniture Makers exhibition in particular, is an important one for us as we believe in nurturing new talent and helping to grow the furnishings industry within the UK. The array of young talent on show at this year’s exhibition was incredibly inspiring, and we’re proud to have been a part of this important showcase for future generations of designers.”
Alan Styles, managing director of sponsor Axminster Tools & Machinery, said: “Axminster is proud to support the Young Furniture Makers exhibition for the fourth year in a row. The event is a great way for students, education and industry to network, which with the work by The Furniture Makers’ Company and the many individuals who give their time, is notably making a difference. Axminster is focused on developing products and service to suit its many customers. The association with the Young Furniture Makers and The Furniture Makers’ Company gives us a great insight in which to develop what we do, and so we feel privileged to give back.”

Mac Collins, Timothy Oulton Best in Show Prize winner, said: “I am really proud to have won the Timothy Oulton Best in Show Prize at this year’s Young Furniture Makers exhibition. It was a massive surprise and I am really grateful for the opportunity to go out to Hong Kong with Charlie Oulton and the team. It was a great evening surrounded by lovely people, both new and established, in the furniture industry.”