Archives for furniture

John Makepeace Celebrates 40 Years of Parnham College with book

THIS September marks the 40-year anniversary of the opening of Parnham College – the pioneering, highly influential, globally regarded design college founded in 1977 by the equally eminent John Makepeace. The occasion, which represents a milestone not only for the college but for the career of Makepeace himself, is to be celebrated with the publication of Beyond Parnham – a visually stunning tome which reflects upon the remarkable impact that the school has had, and indeed continues to have, on the field of contemporary design.


parnham-houseParnham House

Makepeace’s simply phenomenal career can be traced back to the fascination for woodwork he exhibited from a remarkably young age. He began carpentry classes at the age of six and visited various factories and workshops which provided the inspiration which was to foster his creativity and come to determine his professional aspirations. After having completed an apprenticeship under Keith Cooper, Makepeace soon established his own furniture making workshop, the output of which earnt the young craftsman national acclaim and was distinguished by an eccentric, somewhat unconventional aesthetic.

“I have a strong rebellious streak – as an artist, designer and maker. I am constantly searching for more eloquent concepts for furniture. My objective is to achieve freer, lighter, stronger and more sculptural forms expressed through each unique commission,” he says. In the 1970s, Makepeace became a founder trustee of the Crafts Council which sought to promote the work of artist-craftsmen, though his work for the Council only made him more aware of the inadequacies in existing training schemes for those wanting to pursue career in the sector.


Parnham Anniversary Celebration, The Design Museum LondonSome Parnham College Alumni

This was precisely what prompted him in 1976, to purchase Parnham House in Dorset. He intended to renovate the stunning Tudor Manor and to turn it into an establishment that would firstly, provide larger studios for the growing team he employed, secondly to establish workshops and teaching facilities for aspiring furniture makers, and thirdly, to open the historic house to the public with exhibitions of contemporary art and design.

Since it opened, the college has fostered the careers of several world-famous designers such as Konstantin Gric, David Linley, Sean Sutcliffe, Juliane Trummer, Jake Phipps and Verena Wriedt to name but a few.



John Makepeace speaking at the Parnham Anniversary Celebration, The Design Museum LondonJohn Makepeace speaking at the Design Museum

Makepeace’s remarkable career culminated in his being granted an OBE for his services to furniture design, which was followed by the Prince Philip Designers Prize, a Lifetime Achievement Award and the Award of Distinction from the American Furniture Society and the first ever Lifetime Achievement Award to be granted by the Worshipful Company of Furniture Makers. The 40th anniversary of Parnham is yet another accomplishment for the Briton, who has significantly influenced the world of international design through not only his own creations, but through those of the alumni whom he has nurtured also.

The book will officially be launched at the British Design Museum in early September at an event with speakers including Richard Sennett, John Makepeace, Glenn Adamson and Catharine Rossi who will talk about the importance of making, design and the future of craftsmanship.

by Hannah Bergin

A small number of copies of Beyond Parnham are available now at the special price of £30 (plus £5pp). To buy one please visit Makepeace’s website

Copies are also available for sale from the Victoria and Albert Museum and the British Design Museum. For information about the book and to reserve your copy, please email

A limited edition of the book will be published in September 2017 retailing at £35 (plus £5pp)

The Beyond Parnham launch at the British Design Museum will take place on September 5,  2017 at 18:15 until 19:45.
For more details and to book your place, please go to this link or visit Design Museum.



West Dean College Supports Red List For Endangered Crafts in UK

HERITAGE crafts such as making clogs, pianos and blocks for millinery are still produced in Britain – but only just. Recent research by The Heritage Craft Association (HCA) reveals that many of Britain’s traditional craft skills are in decline and in some cases, no longer practised.  The Radcliffe Red List of Endangered Crafts is the title of the new project launched by HCA, supported by the Radcliffe Trust, which endeavours to oversee the viability of heritage craft skills on a regular basis. Their research reveals that the emergence of new technologies and an ageing workforce affect the viability of some craft practices but a lack of affordable workshops, training courses and business skills compromise others.

Heritage Craft Association, West Dean College, heritage crafts, Red ListWest Dean College student, Stacey Hibberd. Photograph courtesy of Christopher Ison

At present, Britain is one of the few countries that have chosen not to back UNESCO’s convention regarding the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage which supports craft skills. Greta Bertram, who led the research, has highlighted the need this month for increased government funding said, “For too long we have been bounced between heritage – which means historic buildings and museums – and arts – things that you can put on a shelf and admire.”

Heritage Craft Association, West Dean College, heritage crafts, Red ListWest Dean College student, Francesca Levey. Photograph courtesy of Christopher Ison

West Dean College in Chichester, who support the new Red List proposals have launched a brand new foundation degree in Historic Craft Practice which teaches metalwork, furniture, musical instrument-making and horology. The horology course includes a project for making an 18th century clock.

Heritage Craft Association, West Dean College, heritage crafts, Red ListWest Dean College student, Fons Vogel. Photograph courtesy of Christopher Ison

Apart from teaching crafts practice and tool-making, the course also endeavours to equip students with valuable business skills. Francine Norris, the Director for Education at West Dean College which specialises in conservation and creative arts education and is validated by the University of Sussex, said, “We hope the List will raise awareness of our rich craft heritage and encourage people to consider learning traditional skills many of which are still relevant today.”

by Miranda Charalambous

Front page image: West Dean College horology student. Photograph courtesy of Christopher Ison





Victoria and Albert Museum Celebrate the Legacy of Plywood

PLYWOOD is a versatile material with unique qualities which offers designers infinite possibilities for creativity. When steamed, curved and moulded plywood can be manipulated into curvaceous architectural forms or laser cut using the latest technology to create intricate lace-like tracery. Even plywood scraps can be re-purposed to make eco-friendly furniture pieces.

In celebration of this remarkable material, the Victoria and Albert Museum in London mounts Plywood: Material of the Modern World, a new exhibition which highlights the significance of plywood design this summer. Iconic designs of the twentieth century relating to architecture, furniture making and transport feature throughout the displays and bring to light the ground-breaking advances in plywood manufacture which include 19th century rotary cutting and the pioneering moulding techniques of the 1930s. Christopher Wilk, exhibition co-curator and Keeper of Furniture, Textiles and Fashion at the V&A, said, “Plywood is such a common, everyday material that most people barely notice when it is used. One could say that it has been hidden in plain sight.”

Victoria and Albert Museum, plywood, design, exhibition

Moulded plywood chair designed by Grete Jalk, 1963. Photograph courtesy of Victoria and Albert Museum, London

On display will be well-known furniture pieces by Alvar Aalto, Robin Day, Charles and Ray Eames and Grete Jalk, working drawings and a fascinating array of transport designs which include a plywood canoe, a 1960s racing car with a plywood chassis and a number of vintage skateboards.

Victoria and Albert Museum, plywood, design, exhibitionDrawing of Alvar Aalto designed Finnish Pavilion at the New York World’s Fair of 1939-‘40.
Courtesy of Alvar Aalto Museum

An intriguing cluster of sculptural forms designed by Canadian-based company, Patkau Architects will be exhibited outside in the V and A’s John Madejski Garden. Cleverly constructed to withstand freezing temperatures, these plywood ice-skating shelters float on the frozen Winnipeg River and provide a welcome respite from the biting wind. Fixed to a timber frame, their flexible plywood sheets sway and creak with the elements.

Victoria and Albert Museum, plywood, design, exhibitionPatkau Architects, Ice skating shelters, Winnipeg, 2012, Courtesy of Patkau Architects


by Miranda Charalambous

Plywood: Material of the Modern World, sponsored by and supported by the American Friends of the V&A (AFV&A) opens from July 15 – 12 November 12, 2017 in the Porter Gallery at the Victoria and Albert Museum, Cromwell Road, London SW7 2RL

Telephone: +44 (0)20 7942 2000


Front page image: Patkau Architects, Ice skating shelters, Winnipeg, 2012, Courtesy of Patkau Architects







Victoria and Albert Museum Remembers John Lockwood Kipling

THE designer and architectural sculptor, John Lockwood Kipling is the focus of a new show at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London which opens early next year. An influential figure of the Arts and Crafts Movement of the Nineteenth Century, Lockwood Kipling is perhaps better known as the illustrator of Jungle Book and Kim, stories written by his son, Rudyard. Motivated as a young man by the fabulous displays of Indian craftwork at the Great Exhibition of 1851, Lockwood became a keen advocate of Indian craft which he later taught at the Mayo School of Industrial Arts in Lahore, India (now the National College of Art).

Overlooking the John Madejski garden at the Victoria and Albert Museum is an interesting mosaic plaque commemorating Godfrey Sykes’ decorative terracotta work for the South Kensington Museum, as it was formerly known. Lockwood, who took part in the project, is shown carrying a scroll followed by Henry Cole, the first director of the museum.

Mosaic panel after Godfrey Sykes, c.a. 1866, Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Far from being an imperialist, Lockwood was concerned with the decline in traditional craft skills, a consequence of the cheap European imports infiltrating India during the Industrial Revolution. As an architectural sculptor, Lockwood inclined towards natural forms which inspired new designs for industrial art, in combination with the historical works at the Lahore Museum of which he was curator. Writing in 1880, he recorded, “I have observed that very little is popularly known of the fishes of the country; many are curious in form and beautiful in colour.”

Wood Carver from a collection depicting craftsmen of the North West provinces of
British India by John Lockwood. Courtesy of the Victoria and Albert Museum

The exhibition, Lockwood Kipling: Arts and Crafts in the Punjab will show original displays first seen by Lockwood at the Great Exhibition of 1851, artefacts chosen by Lockwood for the Victoria and Albert Museum and furniture he designed for Queen Victoria’s homes at Bagshot Park and Osborne House. Lockwood’s fascinating collection of sketches depicting Indian wood-carvers, metallurgists, ceramists, jewellery and toy makers will also be on display. Other exhibits include a piano decorated by Edward Burne-Jones played by Lockwood’s wife, Alice Macdonald and her embroidery for the Red House, the home of William Morris.

Bracelet shown at the Great Exhibition made in Rajasthan, India, c.a. 1850, Victoria and Albert Museum, London

by Miranda Charalambous

The free exhibition, Lockwood Kipling: Arts and Crafts in the Punjab, made in collaboration with the Bard Graduate Center, New York opens from January 14 until April 2, 2017 at The Victoria and Albert Museum, Cromwell Road, London SW7 2RL

Telephone: +44 (0)20 7942 2000

Front page image: The Great Exhibition, India No.4 by Joseph Nash, c.a. 1851, Royal Collection Trust, Courtesy of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, 2016

Tord Boontje’s Chairy Tales at COLLECT Art Fair London

Tord new SS2Petit Jardin, (2006) steel (D 135 x W 125 x H 135 cm).
Handmade by Studio Tord Boontje

DUTCH product designer Tord Boontje is presenting his collection Chairy Tales at COLLECT: The International Art Fair for Contemporary Objects, London. 

Chairy Tales is a chronological display of 11 chairs made by Boontje from 1999 until the present day beginning with the Rough-and-Ready chair, which is constructed with widely-available materials such as wood and screws  and includes Petit Jardin chair (2006) which displays his widely-recognised floral motifs and ends with the Psyche chair that was launched at Salone del Mobile in Milan in April this year.

Tord new SS1Cut Flower Chair (2002), wood, wool, linen, cut nylon garlands
(D 50 x W 45 x H 85 cm). Handmade by Studio Tord Boontje

Boontje says, “Each of theses chairs was made for different purposes in different materials, using different techniques. Together as a collection, they form a narrative of the development of my practice and illustrate the diversity of my work.”

Tord new SS4 witch chairWitch Chair (2004), leather, metal, foam
(D 68 x W 80 x H 85 cm). Produced by Moroso

Tord Boontje is a designer is renowned for “thinking through making” and whose practice  embraces fine art, design and craft. With an established background in industrial design, Tord continues to be an innovator, constantly experimenting with materials and advanced technologies.

Tord new SS3 triwoodTriwood Chair (2014) ash (D 44 x W 36 x H 86 cm).
Handmade in Great Britain / Produced by Porta Romana

by Caroline Simpson

COLLECT is at Saatchi Gallery Duke of York’s HQ  King’s Road  London SW3 4RY

Friday 8 May 12pm – 6pm, Saturday 9 May 11am – 6pm, Sunday 10 May 11am – 6pm, Monday 11 May 11am – 4pm
Last admission 30 minutes before close of show

Advance prices:
Advance standard ticket £12, available until 7 May 12midnight

COLLECT for two £30 (Includes two tickets plus catalogue)*
*Booking fees may apply