Tom Smyth bench Chippendale school

Finding inspiration

Inspiration is something that we can all struggle with, and sometimes we find it in unusual places.

The lesson is that, wherever you find inspiration, grab it with both hands.

That was true of recent professional course graduate Tom Smyth from Bristol whose previous job was on a community farm in Somerset.

Tom knew that furniture making was for him having already undertaken evening classes in woodworking – and realising how much he enjoyed it.

Tom’s simple philosophy was that he enjoys making things, and he wanted a new career doing just that.

His stand-out piece during the course was a monumental garden seat, inspired by work he carried out on the roof of a listed 400-year-old timber framed barn in Hampshire.


OK, it’s may seem a strange link, but you have to take inspiration wherever you find it.

His seat was a symphony in majestic steam-bending, and held together using only pegged mortice and tenon joints.

Tom’s approach was to take a straightforward garden bench design, but make it bigger and more striking.

It was therefore a design that took the ordinary and transformed it into something special.

No wonder that his bench was snapped up by an eager buyer at our graduate exhibition.

Tom Smyth Chippendale furniture school

Tom’s second piece was a lovely plant stand cabinet made from lustrous Lime.

But, finding inspiration from a completely different source, the top of the piece was delicately carved and gilded with yellow gold in a pattern that echoed the Buddhist tree of life.

It comprised a series of vases or containers, with plants spilling out, decorated with colours found on Buddhist prayer flags.

Tom’s finished collection also comprised a Sycamore lampstand and Sycamore baker’s block with granite top.

We’re pleased that he’s found work with Allangrange Furniture Restoration, run by our first ever student, Jayjay Gladwin.


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