Degree and University: Furniture Making and Design, Rycotewood Centre, through Oxford and Cherwell Valley College (De Montfort University) 2007.
Occupation: Furniture Designer
What do you do in your job?
After I finished my degree I won a scholarship at Rycotewood called the Gay Reynolds Memorial Fund, which means I am the Artist In Residence. This allows me to stay on at college for an extra year, free of charge, using all its facilities so now I’m running my own furniture design business – Skinny Girl Furniture. I already have a couple of commissions, enough to keep me going for a while. Ideally, I want someone to come to me and say ‘I want a table like this’ then we go off and design something together. I want to give people a really good piece of quality furniture they have helped design and which will last forever.
Were you always interested in design as a career?
I’ve always been quite practical and creative (doing Art, Graphics and Woodwork at GCSE and A Level) so I thought it would be nice to combine the two. I questioned whether to just do an apprenticeship rather than a degree, but with an apprenticeship you don’t learn about design. By doing a degree not only did I learn the practical aspects of furniture-making but I also took modules in business, design, the use of alternative materials, and cultural studies.
Would you ever consider further education?
The only further qualification I would pursue would be a PGCE (postgraduate Certificate in Education) so I could teach other people my skills. However, I wouldn’t do a Masters because it wouldn’t help me run my own business – people are much more interested in seeing a good portfolio.
What do you like most about what you do?
I like the satisfaction of turning a plank of timber into a piece of usable, functioning furniture. Being hands on is very important to me. I do like the designing but the making is the most important thing. I’ve just always, always wanted to work with wood and I don’t want to do anything else.
What skills do you need to do what you do?
Apart from the obvious practical skills you need to be committed and very energetic and outgoing. You have to be a positive person who is always thinking ‘I can do this’, a get up and go person. Patience is definitely needed.
What piece of advice would you give someone coming into this sector?
Don’t be afraid to ask questions or ask for help because it takes years to learn everything so you need to keep an open mind. Also, if you are female, never let anyone tell you you can’t do this because you can!