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The Snowdon School of Furniture, Highgrove Create Programme: Rethinking Wood for Furniture

The Snowdon School of Furniture’s 12-week Create programme aims to educate and train graduate furniture design students in the value of wood as a sustainable and beautiful material for the production of design-led furniture.

This design and making programme, for a small cohort of eight students, will establish an understanding of the process from woodland management to design and production. Tuition fees and materials are covered by The Prince’s Foundation Scholarships through the generosity of its donors.

The Create programme is rooted in the belief that timber is a sustainable material for buildings and furniture. We believe that if furniture makers understand the growing, harvesting, sawing and drying of timber, and its craft and production processes, then they can more effectively design and build furniture that is beautiful, functional and long-lasting. Our aim is to initiate a change in thinking as we educate designers, makers, landowners, councils and the public, to think holistically about how we value and use wood.

There is such satisfaction to be enjoyed from having a hand in influencing the life cycle of that raw material: developing a greater understanding of the materials with which I (you) work, appreciating their provenance, and then turning them into something beautiful to be enjoyed and treasured.

Lord Snowdon

The small cohort of graduate furniture design students will be immersed in creative exploration during their training at the Street Farm workshops on the Highgrove Estate in Gloucestershire. They will be guided by our Lead Furniture Tutor, William Warren, an established educator, designer and maker. Students will be given exercises in batch producing furniture, an introduction to managing woodland and growing trees for timber, as well as experience in planking and drying wood, all of which will inform a series of design briefs, leading to made furniture prototypes.

Students will look at optimising timber as environmentally sound material and develop and produce items of furniture that illustrate a sustainable and imaginative approach to this wonderful natural resource. The course has strong links with Woodland Heritage and their teaching facilities in Herefordshire and will involve guided visits and field trips to experience first-hand the process of managing woodland and harvesting wood.

Elements of the course will include:

  • Students will select from a series of briefs that encourage them to think about the use of timber for furniture
  • From day one, students will be given workshop machinery training and they will continue to enjoy open access to our making facilities throughout their training
  • Students will gain experience of making batches of furniture as a production team, to allow them to see the potential of production and to use jigs and repeat process tooling
  • Students will gain experience in a commercial sawmill and hands-on exercises in cutting experimentally with a portable sawmill
  • We will give a broad introduction into woodland management approaches and harvesting and valuing standing trees and sawn planks to gain a holistic understanding of timber production and its potential.
  • An opportunity to grow and harvest material in new ways.

The next Create programme will run from Monday 19th September to Friday 16th December, with a break week on the 31st October.

Find out more about the tutors and facilities, course structure, fees and how to apply here.