Our students at the Chippendale school become good woodworkers by learning the rules of good furniture design.
However, we also encourage them to then tear up the rule book.
Because great furniture design can also be about incorporating the right level of quirky surprise.
It’s about making something that is entirely functional, and then adding a dollop of creativity.
That’s what Matthew McGlone achieved with his Elm and stained Oak side table.
Matthew, originally from Manchester but long-time resident of Scotland, completed it after “three weeks of manic work.”
In the first part of our professional course we teach students how to make basic things like doors and table legs and the jointing techniques to hold everything together.
In other words, our students learn how things should be made.
Later in the course, once our students have gained proficiency and confidence, they can then decide if the rule book can be thrown out the window.
That’s the part of the course when a little bit of magic can happen. The latter part of the course is when our students have the skills and confidence to unleash their imaginations.
Instead of his side table having “proper” doors, Matthew incorporated sinuous and dramatic gaps into his design.
In an otherwise functional piece, it lends originality – and buyers of fine furniture appreciate originality.
Form and function
But that balance of form and function is important, because any piece of furniture must perform the tasks it is designed for.
If it doesn’t – for example, if a cupboard is difficult to access or a chair is uncomfortable – then that balance is disrupted.
But, as far as Matthew was concerned, who says that side table doors should be solid? And his pieces do exactly what they were designed for.
It was a bold and imaginative design approach which we applaud. Matthew also incorporated those dramatic gaps in an earlier table.
That confidence in his trade possibly reflects his long-term fascination with wood.
In his childhood, he spent hours bush-crafting in woods, fashioning spoons from small pieces of wood.
But he’s also a wordsmith, with a degree in English Literature and a Masters in Creative Writing.
The word’s out that he’s setting up his business, Wild Wood Furniture, from incubation space at the school.
These workshop spaces, Myreside Studios, allow graduates to start up for themselves, with full access to the school’s equipment and machinery.
It’s all part of the holistic approach we take at the Chippendale school – giving an all-round professional course, but with real support after graduation.
The good news is that Matthew has already won commissions and is hard at work!