Teaching inspiration in furniture design

You might think that our main task at the Chippendale school is to teach fine furniture design and making.

If so, you’d be wrong.  Our role is to unlock inspiration.

Our students come from all over the world.  This year from the Falkland Islands to the USA; from New Zealand to India; from the UK to Switzerland and Italy.

They have different nationalities and cultures.  When they graduate, they leave with different dreams for their futures.

Some come to us straight from school; others are looking for a new interest in retirement.

Many are looking to change career mid-stream – to finally turn their latent passion for woodworking into a reality.

That’s why inspiration is so important because, whatever their reasons for coming to the Chippendale school, everyone has a personal dream to pursue.

Our curriculum gives our students skills and confidence.  They learn everything from veneering to gilding.  They learn to appreciate the properties and limitations of different woods.

But more than anything, we encourage inspiration because, when you put passion and inspiration together, the results can be amazing.

In a competitive world, simply knowing how to make a chair or table isn’t usually enough to win a commission.

Customers expect a woodworker to be able to make chairs and tables.  Basic woodworking skills aren’t just what they’re looking for.

What customers want, consciously or otherwise, is a woodworker who can add an extra dimension of design inspiration.

That’s why, after the first term, we mostly don’t tell students what to make.  We tell them to make the signature pieces that their hearts want them to make.

After all, students come to us because of a passion for woodworking.  Our task is to give them the practical tools that allow them to unleash that creative inspiration.

And that’s a far better way, we believe, to give students the very best start to their woodworking careers.

The woodworkers featured above are from the class of 2016/17

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