Professional Development for Furniture Designer Makers


Tel: +44 (0) 1984 667555



professional development for furniture designer makers

the role of a furniture designer maker

The joy and satisfaction gained from a creative life is unquestionable. For our students it can be achieved using a number of routes. Some of our students join us with an ambition to run their own furniture business, making bespoke pieces for clients, or speculative pieces that can be sold through galleries, exhibitions, craft fairs, and online websites. Others choose to work for a commercial workshop, or a furniture manufacturer producing one-offs, batch production or fitted interiors. Another approach is to combine the two as part of a longer term plan. We have also found increasingly that there are far more opportunities to rent bench space inside a commercial workshop, which can give an excellent start to a new business, without the initial start up costs, and with the potential of developing long lasting contacts and work.

Working collaboratively with others can also be extremely rewarding. This could include interior designers, architects, product designers, artists, and other trades such as glassmetal workers, upholsterers, and CNC machine operators, to name but a few! Williams and Cleal have experienced first hand all of these scenarios, so are well placed to pass on valuable contacts, advice and above all an insight into all aspects of the furniture industry.  

next steps

Following a course with us, as well as our continuing support you will also find further professional and business development support offered by associations such as the Crafts Council and the Furniture Makers Company. Membership to the Young Furniture Makers organisation is free to students and young professionals who have completed their courses within the last three years.

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crafts council

The Crafts Council offer a wide range of support and professional development opportunities to support designers and makers. Three of our students, Thomas Whittingham, Maria Del Mar Gomez and Charles Byron have been selected for the Crafts Council Hothouse Programme - designed to support new makers with additional skills and opportunities to grow a sustainable and successful business at the start of their careers.

Buoyed by the support of the Hothouse programme, Thomas, Maria and Charlie have gone from strength to strength in building their successful bespoke furniture business and

The Crafts Council also run a series of workshops, masterclasses and conferences for creative businesses covering a wide range of topics. They are cost effective and take place all over the UK. To see full listings of the programmes available please visit The listing includes:

  • finances for craft businesses,
  • product photography,
  • relationship management with galleries and commissioners.
  • fundraising skills
  • IP and copyright
  • reaching your market
  • business visioning
  • and more

the furniture makers company including the young furniture makers

The YFM host student networking seminars across the UK. Presentation topics in the past have included design, bespoke manufacturing, retail, sales, managing a growing business etc. The diversity of the speakers and topics help give students a broad view of the industry.

Among many other things, the furniture makers company run Young Professional Industry Experience Programmes, exhibitions and competitions - and they award Guild Marks, awards and certification schemes.

You can find out more about the Furniture Makers Company at

Regional Business Support Organisations

There are also regional business support organisations run by the government in each county of the UK. In the South West, this is Organisations like this run free 1:1 business reviews and advice on how to start, or grow your business. They also run business themed events and workshops.