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How to become a Furniture Designer

furniture designer careers

What does a Furniture Designer do?

Furniture designers produce designs for items of furniture and other related products. Designs may be for mass production, in small batches, or as one-offs, and designers may just be involved in this aspect of the work, or may be designer/makers, producing items from their own designs.

Designers may first carry out research and look at other products to help them develop their own ideas. They will need to consider how the item will look and how practical or functional it will be, taking into consideration areas such as the cost and availability of materials, the manufacturing process, the needs of the client or intended end-user, and safety implications. They may work to a brief agreed with a client or, in the case of manufacturing companies, may originate new designs or improve existing ones.

Designers prepare sketches of their initial ideas, by hand or with the aid of computer software, often in liaison with other professionals such as production managers, marketing staff and design engineers.

Designers will develop their ideas using models, prototypes and computer-aided design (CAD). They may prepare their own more detailed designs for themselves or manufacturing specialists to work from, or in larger companies these may be worked up in detail by specialised draughtsmen/women.

Self-employment will include involvement in marketing, financial and business activities.

What's the working environment like working as a Furniture Designer?

Working conditions and hours of work vary. Designers spend much of their time in a studio; those employed by companies may work as part of a design team, whereas self-employed designers may have their own workshop or studio, or may share premises to reduce costs.

Designers working for organisations such as large manufacturers or design companies are more likely to work regular hours, but extra hours during the week are common when there are deadlines to meet. Self employed designers are more likely to work irregular hours, including weekends.

Some travel may be necessary, for example to carry out research, meet clients or visit factories, therefore a driving licence is useful.

What does it take to become a Furniture Designer?

To be a furniture designer you need:

  • creative and practical ability
  • drawing and draughting skills
  • knowledge of computer aided design (CAD) packages
  • strong visual awareness
  • to be persistent, proactive and resilient
  • self-discipline
  • business sense and sales skills for self-employment
  • to be numerate and flexible in order to work within available budgets
  • good communication skills.

Furniture Designer Career Opportunities

Furniture designers may be self-employed as designer/makers, or may be employed by large manufacturing companies, retailers, design studios and consultancy practices.

Self employed designers will need to find premises. The Crafts Council (see Further Information section) or crafts officer of local regional arts boards (contact details through the Arts Councils - see Further Information) may be able to advise on studio availability and possible sources of funding.

Experienced designers may progress to more senior positions, or into specialised areas. They may also move to positions such as furniture buyer. Some designers may move into the ergonomics field by completing a postgraduate qualification. See the Ergonomist profile for information.

Further information

If you would like to know anything about Furniture Designer that does not appear on Hotcourses, further information can be found below.

The Design Council
34 Bow St
London
WC2E 7DL
Tel: 020 7420 5200
www.design-council.org.uk

Arts Council England
14 Great Peter St
London
SW1P 3NQ
Tel: 0845 300 6200
www.artscouncil.org.uk

Northern Ireland Arts Council
Macneice House
77 Malone Road
Belfast
BT9 6AQ
Tel: 028 9038 5200
www.artscouncil-ni.org

Scottish Arts Council
12 Manor Place
Edinburgh
EH3 7DD
Tel: 0131 226 6051
www.sac.org.uk

Arts Council of Wales
Museum Place
Cardiff
CF10 3NX
Tel: 029 2037 6500
www.artswales.org.uk

Crafts Council
44a Pentonville Road
Islington
London N1 9BY
Tel: 020 7278 7700
www.craftscouncil.org.uk

Creative and Cultural Skills
Tel: 0800 093 0444
www.artsadvice.com

Creative and Cultural Skills
11 Southwark St
London
SE1 1RQ
www.ccskills.org.uk

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