Made By Suzanne“One of the things I enjoyed most about the course was just meeting people from all over the world.  They were such a great bunch of people; all really fun and friendly.”

The Chippendale International School of Furniture attracts students of all ages and backgrounds, from all over the world.

Some come from architecture, art, music and fashion, others from IT, property, the forces, farming, banking – or other backgrounds.  Our students this year come from the UK, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, France, Russia, Germany, Canada and the USA.  Students may come to us straight from school or be newly retired and the Chippendale School has been described as “a place where the old grow young and the young grow wise”.

It once again proves that there is no such thing as a ‘typical’ Chippendale student and emphasises that we continue to be an ‘international’ furniture making school.

Below you can view some recent furniture students’ profiles, see what they thought of our furniture making courses and what they decided to do after graduating.

Meet some of our recent students

Change Your Lifeclick for the Chippendale prospectus

Anaïs Dancet

Anaïs is from Belgium. After an interior architecture degree she wanted to make her designs herself and move from designing to production as well.

“The course covered everything that I wanted to learn. It’s really intense. You have to be committed; I mentally prepared for boot camp woodwork.”

Anaïs made a beautifully clever architect’s cabinet and a hand carved chair while on the course. She set up her own business from the Chippendale Incubation Centre and continues to work on her designs and deliver commissioned work.

Rupert Phelps

After years of working in front of a laptop, Rupert decided he required a more physical, creative and self-motivated lifestyle. He packed in his sedentary job for a career as a furniture designer and maker.

“On the first day, it was straight into chiselling, sawing, planing and designing our first term project. No messing, just get stuck in. The highlight in the first term was completing my first ever piece of furniture, a lounge sideboard called ‘The Hungarian’, where a hardwood plank has been curved 360 degrees to give continuous unbroken lines of wood grain. My Second furniture project was ‘The Diplomat’ desk made from rosewood veneer and sycamore.”

“Other highlights have been morning lectures from Anselm, lunch around the nice warm stove with friendly banter and laughter. The local Goblin Ha’ pub is a popular venue and you get to know the locals very quickly indeed.”

Now based in south west London, Rupert designs and makes beautiful, hand-crafted, contemporary furniture, producing bespoke pieces to commission and for exhibition.

Norman Mackay

Norman had been living the dream for a decade, working all over the world as a professional musician.

“I always wanted to learn furniture making,” he said. “It wouldn’t have been possible for me to take a couple of years out from the music so the intensive nine month course was perfect for me.

“The Chippendale Furniture School is as far removed from a mainstream college course as you can possibly imagine. You never know what to expect at Anselm’s morning lectures; they’re always entertaining and very informative.

“The course is intense and there are always several projects on the go at any given time. There wasn’t one morning that I couldn’t wait to jump out of bed and head for the workshop!”

Norman continues to work as a musician and, between gigs, runs his Woodeye Furniture business, specialising in unique wardrobes with his ‘signature’ handles and special fittings designed to protect your fine silks and cashmeres  Contact Norman for futher details!

Garry Macfarlane

Garry was a Commercial Property Consultant working in Glasgow, who decided that a new career in furniture making was called for.  He enrolled at Chippendale for the 2010-11 course and went on to win the award of ‘Students’ Choice Student of the Year’.

“Enrolling at Chippendale was the best thing I ever did. I learnt so much so quickly and it is incredibly rewarding to be doing something with my hands rather than sitting all day behind a desk.”

Garry started Freckle Furniture from the incubation workshops at the Chippendale School.  He hand-makes beautiful furniture and kitchens to his bespoke designs and serves customers across the UK.

Tara McIntosh

Tara studied for an HND in Fashion Design and a Degree in Textile Design. “Without a doubt the best thing about the course is the fact that you are completely immersed in it. It’s so busy and demanding.

“The course highlights for me were carving and gilding, marquetry, learning the practical things about wood (timber technology) – and when Anselm set his eyebrows on fire! The tutors on this course are fantastic!

“After graduating I stayed on in the Chippendale Incubation Centre and set up Twiggd which combines all of my loves – fashion, illustration, interior design and the joy of craftsmanship.

“I now work from my studio in Edinburgh creating a colourful and illustrative jewellery range from beautiful solid woods.

“The staff at Chippendale continue to offer advice and support and are totally invaluable.”

Seonaid Denholm

Seonaid trained at the Chippendale School of Furniture having finished a degree at the University of Manchester studying Economic and Social History.

“The year at the school was great! You cover so much in the 30 weeks. The course is intense!”

Whilst training at the school she built a grandfather clock in olive ash and a kidney shaped writing desk in walnut and burr walnut veneer.

Seonaid set up her business Yellowhammer Furniture and Restoration from the Incubation Centre at the Chippendale School. She has been working on a line of Yellowhammer coopered designs and commissions such as a hollow tree root coffee table and a corner cabinet with carved vines.

“It’s a fantastic place to be, especially in the early stages of starting your own business as a furniture maker.”

Matthew Brebner

“After dropping out of a Town Planning degree at Newcastle University I decided that a career in furniture making was for me.

“Prior to University I attended Strathallan School in Perthshire where I did A-level Art and Design & Technology. These two subjects gave me a solid skills base in furniture design and simple woodworking skills.

“Then I attended the Chippendale School. With the lectures from Anselm and help from the many talented tutors, this school taught me many more skills than I ever thought I could master: from using basic hand tools to carving, turning, French polishing and many more.

“The greatest achievement the School gave me was the confidence to set up my own business. I have slowly been building up my business and  working for myself for the last few years, which has been a dream.

“This school is simply amazing. Year after year a fascinating group of students arrive with a whole range of backgrounds and skill sets.

“30 long, challenging and exciting weeks later and the group has been turned into a confident, inventive and skilled group of cabinet makers.”

Suzanne Ryan

Suzanne studied Fine and Decorative Arts at home in Dublin, Ireland and then went on to become a stuccodore doing decorative plasterwork.

“I have always had a love and appreciation of beautifully crafted things from silverware to furniture to buildings. It was lovely to work in grand buildings but the wood kept calling.

“The Chippendale International School of Furniture is like a Willy Wonka chocolate factory for anyone with an interest in working in wood! Any of the myriad of different techniques you would like to learn are available to you. It is kinda like heaven. To have everything here is great.”

Suzanne had wanted to try marquetry and inlay and was able to do this on her walnut Pembroke table.

Suzanne has set up Made By Suzanne, with an emphasis on traditional furniture and restoration.

David Lonsdale

David previously worked in sheet metal fabrication for an aerospace company, then set up Lonsdale Home Improvements.

“Highlights at the School were being able to experiment with my own designs and ideas. It was interesting having a mix of nationalities and cultures at the School, and seeing how it influences their designs.

“My first term ‘solid wood’ piece was an olive ash writing bureau with a concealed chair and some secret compartments.

My second term ‘veneer’ piece was an iPod shelving unit, a modern piece with a funky vibe yet still functional.

“Since finishing the course I have moved to New Zealand with my wife and children. My aim is to build up a business with a solid reputation for unique, functional and beautiful furniture, kitchens and gifts.”

Ali Easton
The Edinburgh Dresser Company

After a career in software development and project management at the Royal Bank of Scotland, Ali swapped corporate life for furniture making and graduated after winning the Scottish Furniture Makers’ Association Student Award 2010.

“Being at the School was unforgettable — a really rich experience in a beautiful location with people from lots of different countries and backgrounds. It’s an intensive course and the students were very dedicated. You have to put everything into it.

“I particularly liked the sections of the course on solid wood, turning and finishing. The course is really rigorous and great fun. I developed my own design style, and refined some of my thoughts on wood, our environment and sustainability.”

Alasdair’s second term projects included a large walnut drinks cabinet, a gilded mirror and a table to go with his award-winning chair.

Working from the Chippendale Incubation Centre, Alasdair now runs The Edinburgh Dresser Company offering beautiful custom-designed, hand-made kitchen and dining room dressers and units as well as bespoke furniture items.

Ian Darroch

After 20 years of service in banking, Ian decided to pursue a career in furniture making and woodwork.

“The Furniture School is in a spectacular location and the course was great. I absolutely loved the furniture restoration and history of furniture modules. Our group of students was very sociable so we had a lot of fun.

“Early on I set up my own business, Louis James Furniture and Woodwork, and even squeezed in some commissions while on the course which helped pay for the course fees. After the course, I built a 100 square metre workshop by my house.

“Ultimately I’m delighted I took the plunge. I see a lot more of my family, I’m working from home serving (in the main) my local community and involved in a huge variety of work.”

Sean McManus

“Having come from a traditional background of a four-year apprenticeship, where learning came through repetition, the learning environment at the School is quite different.

“You are given your head, encouraged to try new things, often resulting in learning through making mistakes.

“A great deal of discussion takes place between students and staff as well as between students themselves, igniting the thought process from which new ideas evolve into realisation (thanks for the tambal idea, Quentin!).

“This course is, in my opinion, geared towards those who intend starting in business on completion, which is my intention.

“The basics of costing a job, and lists of suppliers for all things required to start and run a business is a godsend, without which much time would be spent attending business start-up courses.”

Emily Greenberg

Emily is originally from California, but after graduating from the Chippendale International School of Furniture, she decided to stay in Scotland and has now graduated from the Edinburgh College of Art.

“When I complete my studies my dream is to start my own design company, designing children’s furniture.

“I decided to study at Chippendale because I was looking for a well-rounded, serious education in furniture design and making – and that is exactly what I got at Chippendale.

“My education at Chippendale gave me sophisticated pieces of furniture I could proudly display in my portfolio to ensure my acceptance to Edinburgh College of Art. I also gained a solid woodworking background, which gives me confidence as I continue with my designing.

“Studying woodworking in the Scottish countryside was an incredible experience.”

Simon Calder

Simon Calder was born in the UK but moved out to Zimbabwe when he was 5.  As a schoolboy he says he was always interested in the arts and craft department.  The first thing he remembers making out of wood was a display cabinet when he was 14.

After graduating from university he followed his father into aviation and got his commercial pilot’s licence.  After flying in Zambia and Mozambique for a few years he was contracted by the United Nations Humanitarian Air Service.  He has come to Chippendale after spending four years in Chad and Sudan.

He says that he came here to pursue a more creative calling and he particularly cites the prospect of being self-employed as attractive. He plans to start up his own furniture making business in Zimbabwe or East Africa.