Five fabulous pieces of furniture made by our 2017 graduates are to be exhibited at the Scottish parliament.
The school is grateful to Iain Gray MSP, our elected representative in the Scottish parliament, for sponsoring the exhibition, and to Professor Chris Breward, principal of the Edinburgh Collage of Art, for choosing the pieces.
It was, as Professor Breward admitted, a very difficult task, with our students having made over 100 fantastic pieces of furniture.
The famous five are:
Jin Sung Choi
Jin Sung Choi from Busan in South Korea is a former trainee pilot and Marine soldier, who has discovered a skill and passion for woodworking.
Always interested in both design and the practical skills in making furniture, he hopes to go onto further training in Japan, to develop his technique in carving and gilding.
He then hopes to set up his own business in South Korea where he thinks the market is beginning to embrace outside influences.
“South Korean furniture is traditionally made from solid wood, often inlaid with mother of pearl and with brass fastenings and handles,” says Jin.
“I am more interested in bringing a delicate Western approach, and creating furniture that is both Oriental and classical.”
His signature piece that will be shown in the parliament is a stunning desk in solid fumed oak, with turned legs, brass fixings – and incorporating a hidden compartment with a hidden key.
“I believe that affluent young people in South Korea are moving away from factory-made furniture and towards hand-made and bespoke. My business will aim to meet that growing aspirational market,” he says.
Paddy O’Neill, from Edinburgh, will be exhibiting his Sun Salutation Chest, a beautifully-crafted piece made from sycamore and rosewood veneer with clear acrylic rods supporting the chest.
Paddy, who used to work offshore on oil rigs in the UK, Norway and the USA, enrolled at the Chippendale school after deciding on a change in career.
The symbols on the top of his box are a stylised version of the Sun Salutation sequence, eight yoga poses that traditionally are practiced each morning.
The chest, which is still for sale, is designed to hold yoga mat and accessories, and the rosewood veneered figures supporting it are arranged in another yoga pose – the warrior pose.
Paddy is setting up The Natural Edge co., his own woodworking business in Edinburgh to specialise in furniture design, making, and kitchens.
“I do practice yoga but the main inspiration was my girlfriend, Jade, who is a yoga instructor. We are also expecting a baby in September,” he said.
Paddy received partial funding for his woodworking course from the government’s transitional training fund for oil and gas workers.
Until this year, Rob Vowles was more at home climbing trees than using them to make fine furniture.
The former tree surgeon from London has worked in several countries and continents, including Canada, Sweden and in parts of Africa.
His fiendishly-clever drinks cabinet, made from a variety of woods including elm, red gum, oak and ash, is his signature piece from the furniture course.
Opening the cabinet is the clever part, because to do so involves solving a series of puzzles that are designed to baffle even the most sober.
Based on ideas from Japanese puzzle boxes, the drinks cabinet has a sliding door mechanism that, when several elements are aligned correctly, reveals a secret puzzle door – and an even more secret lock and separate key to open it.
Inside, the drinks cabinet is just as stunning, with elaborate marquetry panels and a mirrored back.
Rob now intends to set up in business in London.
Helen Guy, originally from Hertfordshire, is setting up Sherrardswood Bespoke Furniture in Edinburgh, offering a complete design, build and restoration service.
Helen is a well-travelled woman whose career in IT and banking took her around the world. Travelling with her family she lived in Australia, Singapore and the USA before settling in Edinburgh.
She then took a one-week short course at the Chippendale International School of Furniture before enrolling for a full-time one year immersive course.
The piece chosen for exhibition is her Magical Memory Chest, a beautiful and unusual piece of furniture inspired by visits to various stately homes whilst attending the school. The chest is veneered with walnut and the legs made from a walnut tree taken from her sister’s Suffolk garden. It is lined with lustrous copper leaf so that when opened, it conjures an explosion of light.
“It was designed to be a place to store memories; a place for old photographs or school reports; a slightly magical piece of furniture to celebrate family life and the passing of years,” said Helen.
Zachary, from New York, studied studio art, engineering design and sculpture at college in Pennsylvania.
His background in art and architecture has given him the skills and perspective to blend form and function into pieces of furniture that are both visually-stunning but utterly practical.
His signature piece for display is a draughtsman’s table in solid oak that can be set to any angle for the perfect working position. The table comes complete with a matching stool.
It is a beautiful piece, entirely made from wood – an engineering, design and craftsmanship challenge that he has pulled off brilliantly.
Zachary will now be returning to the States to pursue a career in furniture design and making.