Looking at course providers can be confusing, and we know that there are a lot of options out there if you want to get into furniture making. Here’s why we think we’d be a good fit for you…
The school and staff
- Together, our staff have over 75 years of experience
- Most of our staff have won at least one Guild Mark. Marc has won four Guild Marks, while Theo has won two, Chris has won one as a maker on one of Marc’s pieces, and Laurent won a Guild Mark for one of the projects he worked on while he was a student with us
- The school has a modern outlook when it comes to design, keeping up with current trends and artists, and working with many different materials
- We are one of only two teaching studios in the UK to have won The Claxton Stevens award by the Worshipful Company of Furniture Makers
- Marc is now on the panel of judges for the Guild Mark award, so he fully understands the standards of craftsmanship and design required from students
- We are registered with the UK Government Skills Funding Agency as a course provider, which means students are eligible for professional career and development loans
- Our one year course is a full 50 weeks, rather than nine months, so we don’t limit students to only working during term times
- With out of hours work, students have a potential 3000 hours of bench time per year (terms and conditions apply)
- We have a great success rate with students gaining employment soon after leaving us, and many start their own businesses
- Our usual student to staff ratio is 3 to 1, since we take small intakes of up to five people
- Our course doesn’t solely focus on furniture making – we have a strong emphasis on furniture design, as well as a focus on using other materials alongside wood
- At the of the year we participate in New Designers, a graduate exhibition in London
- Having Marc Fish as school principal gives students a great opportunity to work alongside and learn from a professional fine furniture maker, selling pieces through galleries and exhibitions
- We have a bench space rental scheme so that ex-students and people running small businesses can work in our studio, students get to work alongside professionals who are running their own business
- We are close to London which means we are able to regularly take trips to and take part in various exhibitions
- Our position of being just outside of Brighton and close to London means students really enjoy the time they spend with us, even when they aren’t in the workshop
Why do we focus on design?
Good construction is not enough – the quality amongst designer makers now means the majority of work created is of a very good standard. Perfect dovetails are now a given, they just have to be perfect.
If the design is not well considered and at the same level as the construction, people aren’t going to look close enough to see the quality of the craftsmanship. Marc has seen this first hand whilst exhibiting – people walk past extremely well made furniture looking for something that catches their eye.
Clients who are interested in buying handmade furniture are discerning and are used to buying well designed items, and these are the people makers need to impress, not other makers. If you want to sell work and be commercial then your designs need to be exciting and eye catching, as well as exceptionally well made.
The four things judges look for when assessing pieces for Guild Marks is excellence in design, materials, craftsmanship and function.
We guide our students through the design process, nurture their own style and help them produce sophisticated work that is exceptional and well-considered.
If you still feel you just want to learn purely how to make, that’s okay. With over 3000 hours per year potentially available at the bench, there is still plenty of time to just make.
We are passionate about good design and so are the clients!
We’ll prepare you for life after the course
Do you want to get a job after the course?
If you want to be in employment when you finish your course with us, we can help with this. We’ll have regular one-to-one meetings throughout the course to help you look for opportunities, and prepare for job interviews. We’ll help you work on your CV and help you to produce a portfolio of the work you create while with us. We have access to a large network of workshops and potential employers, and have had great success in the past in helping students find roles.
All of our students leave with a graded diploma, so you can show potential employers not only that you have completed a course with us, but how well you did on that course.
Do you want to be self-employed, or set up your own workshop?
If you’re interested in starting your own solo furniture making career, we can provide plenty of advice on this, from advice on health and safety legislation and the practicalities of setting up a workshop, to preparing for client meetings and marketing your business.
In our one-to-one meetings, we can provide help with business plans and cost analyses, as well as product pricing and market research. Marc has exhibited all around the world, so can advise on getting your work seen, the costs of exhibiting, and sorting out shipping and customs.
There’s plenty of opportunity to learn from our experience, and many of our students have gone on to start their own businesses!