how we’re different
Unlike many other furniture courses, ours lasts a full 50 weeks, with two weeks off in December. This means that you can really make the most of your time with us, and get in as much practice and making time as possible. When students do a year course with us, it’s a full year – no terms, no set holidays, just lots of learning and lots of making. But don’t worry, if you need to take time off, a week off later in the course won’t affect your personal development.
Here at robinson house studio, we have a focus on modern techniques, and on using many different materials, rather than just wood. We have a strong focus on design and the studio has a reputation of experimentation and progression of mixed materials. Marc does a lot of work with resin, for example, and we teach students material science in order to expand their knowledge on how to use other materials with wood.
Marc makes his work in the same studio as the students are learning and working on their own projects, which means students get the opportunity to work alongside a professional furniture designer selling high end pieces. Marc’s makers work in the same space as the students, and our students tell us that working with professionals and seeing the commissioning process really adds to their experience.
We strive to give students the best quality and most well-rounded education we can, so we bring in various guest lecturers who have expertise in certain subjects. Charlie Whinney teaches a steam bending course, where students learn all about the ancient process of heating wood with steam in order to manipulate its form. Charlie has created bespoke, sculptural pieces for many high end clients, as well as Harvey Nichols and the Eden Project. He is considered one of the UK’s leading experts in the technique.
Mark Anstee is also a guest lecturer, providing a six-part drawing course in order to help students to sketch out their designs. Mark is a professional artist, specializing in drawing. He has been commissioned by major museums and organisations in the UK and Europe, including the Imperial War Museum, and also teaches drawing on the Fine Art and Design programs at the University of Brighton & Kingston University.
Another guest lecturer is Richard Williams, who makes high end furniture for private clients in association with architects, and interior and yacht designers. He is a multi-award winner and has been running Richard Williams Furniture for over 25 years. Richard comes in to give our students a talk on running a business, sharing his experience on balancing the creative work with business management.
Every year, we exhibit at New Designers, the graduate exhibition in London. We bring along some of our students and their work to display, which gives students a great opportunity to be part of an exhibition and start building their experience. They have the opportunity to meet key industry experts and employers and talk to them about their work, and be part of a well respected show.
One of the benefits of being based in Newhaven is the proximity to London, which means we are able to take students to various London exhibitions. The exhibitions we visit change each year depending on the dates and our schedule. Some of the exhibitions we’ve visited with students in the past include PAD London, Design Junction, London Design Fair, Celebration of Craftsmanship & Design, Masterpiece, and Collect.
We like to take students out of the workshop from time to time, in order to visit other makers and learn new practices, as well as to teach them how to source their materials for future work. We regularly visit The Edward Barnsley Workshop so students can learn about their work and get an insight into a professional workshop. Other trips vary from year to year, but in the past we have visited Yannick Chastang, who specialises in restoration and conservation.
We also take students to visit and timber yard and veneer suppliers, in order to show them how the process works and how to source materials. The students then go on to return to the suppliers independently as they work on their projects with us.
Being close to London means we are also able to take students to museums to expand their knowledge of furniture design, both its history as well as contemporary design. In the past we have visited the V&A museum and the Tate Modern in London as they provide a wealth of inspiration for the students’ own designs.
We have also visited the materials library, compiled by the Institute of Making with UCL, which is a vast collection of kinds of materials. Outside of London, we have also visited the Arts and Crafts museum in Cheltenham, which holds a collection on the arts and crafts movement in Britain.
We have designed our course in a way that means we can provide value to our students even after their course ends. Many of our students have won awards, including Laurent Peacock, who won a Guild Mark for a piece he made while with us, as well as Chris Funnell and Gary Adams, who have both been awarded Certificates of Merit by the Worshipful Company of Furniture Makers. Marc is on the judging panel for the Guild Mark award, and can provide insight into what goes into an award-winning piece.
We also regularly attend the New Designers show in London, which exhibits work from new designers and graduates. We have taken many students to exhibit in the past, and we are always looking for excellent student work to exhibit in the future.
We also have an alumni Facebook group, where robinson house studio graduates can connect, ask questions, and share their work. We often update this group with job opportunities when we are made aware of them, in order to help ex-students to find work after they leave us.