How do I get a career in furniture?

Ed is thinking about a career in furniture, but wants to know more about the range of beginner courses available.

I am looking into a change of career and furniture design looks like a really appealing direction. I do not have a background in arts or design, but am quite creative and am an extremely quick and dedicated learner. I am a bit baffled by the number of courses available and am ignorant as to the best colleges or routes to take.

I have seen the link: and looked at some of the courses there but I’m still not clear.

I do not know what sort of short course will give a beginner like me that broad introduction, skills and guidance that I would need to try to break into this career. I would also appreciate some steer on good colleges or universities that offer these courses and how much I might expect to pay.

I appreciate this quite a naive email and I’m sure I am missing key information, but any help would be appreciated. (I’m at the beginning of this journey!)

Kind regards,

— Ed Ciacci

Expert answers

Polly Macpherson's reply:

​Hi Ed,

Good to hear you are interested in Furniture Design and quite understandable that it all looks a bit daunting. I will look to give you some pointers and ideas to progress your thinking.


One of the key questions to ask yourself is what kind of Furniture Design are you interested in pursuing and what materials and processes do you want to work with. Examples are…

- Fine Furniture

- Traditional hand skilled wood working

- Multiple making - industrial production

- Digital technologies - CAD, CNC etc.

- Materials – wood, metal, plastics etc.

Depending on your answer you have different choices of courses.

Increasingly wood furniture makers are setting up courses and delivering them at their own workshops. These courses vary in length and costs are approximately £600-700 for 5 days.


Examples of furniture makers’ workshop courses

- David Savage, Short wood working

- Marc Fish - 12 week course cost £6,500

- John Lloyd -


Depending on your location there are also local colleges that offer day and evening courses. These will vary in cost and level depending on the facilities they have.

In addition there are a variety of courses available at university from traditional furniture making to through to industrial product design.


Some examples of courses are:

Buckinghamshire New University - BA (Hons) Furniture


Plymouth University – BA (Hons) 3D Design: Designer Maker

Kingston University - BA (Hons) Product and Furniture Design


Northumbria University - BA(Hons) 3D design

All university courses are three years long with fees of approx.. £9000 per year. Some do an industry work placement year out (making the completion of the degree 4 years) some do a work placement modules compulsory/optional in the 2nd year. If this is your chosen path forward these opportunities are well worth investigating.

If you are anywhere near London or able to visit I would highly recommend visiting venues participating in The London Design Festival, which is on between 14th – 22nd September.

The weeklong festival includes 1000’s of exhibitors in loads of venues showing work from all design disciplines. You would certainly get a deeper idea of the wealth of possibilities……


In addition The Furniture Makers’ Company have organised a Furniture Futures Seminar -  SW Region at Plymouth University, Peninsular Arts Gallery on Wednesday 13th Nov from 5.00 - 7.30 the session will include a Q&A time with John Makepeace.

For more info. And to book a space please visit


Good Luck!


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