Makita UK, professional power tool manufacturer and official sponsor of the National School of Furniture (NSF) – a partnership between Buckinghamshire New University and City of Oxford College, based in High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire – helped to mark the celebrations at the annual End of Year Show 2014.

Third year undergraduates of the BA (Hons) Furniture: Design and Craft degree course displayed a showcase of work produced during their workshop-based coursework, where the making processes are intertwined with the creative and experimental approaches to furniture craft. 

The Makita Award for Excellence of Design combined with Excellence of Craft 2014 was based on judging criteria that involved intelligent application of creative thinking, appropriate use of materials and processes, and skills in the execution and manufacture of the product.

“This year’s students have once again pushed the boundaries and proved that the level of design, skills and craftsmanship achieved on this course is exceptional,” says Tony Coleman, technical and training manager, Makita UK, “and we feel privileged to play just a small part in the journey of 22 very gifted young people this year.”

Judged by Ray Wilby, Makita’s senior trainer, awards were made to:
Joshua Hall, 21, of High Wycombe, who took first place for his exquisitely-crafted traditional honesty cabinet made from yew and maple, and his contemporary-style shelf unit made using a glueless construction method. Josh was presented with a gift voucher for £600 worth of Makita power tools.

The runner up prize was presented to Tom Devey, 22, from Luton, Bedfordshire, for his jewellery box made from brown oak and sycamore. His glueless piece adopted a skilfully-researched Japanese-inspired table base configuration, which can be adapted to any size of table top, packs flat and is held together with a single wooden peg. Tom received a gift voucher for £300 worth of tools.

Highly commended awards were given to: Charlotte Jennings, 21, of Coulsden, Surrey, who designed and made a full-length, floor-based mirror; Greg Stone, 22, of Stamford, Lincolnshire, for his innovative boiled leather creations; and Will Phillips, 29, of Sway, New Forest, for his contemporary furniture entitled Burn & Blast.

“It has been an exceptional year with exceptional students – the individuality of the work pays credence to this fact,” says Andrew Shenton, course leader of the BA (Hons) Furniture: Design and Craft course. “Many students in the group have jobs already lined up, a small group have the opportunity to have a retail space and small workshop in Camden, others have internships and teaching opportunities in America. For the winners of the Makita award, this year and last, their winnings will enable them to continue their careers making even more beautiful things.”

Makita’s sponsorship package to the NSF has included: equipping its workshops with Makita power tools, which are available to all degree course students; the provision of correct and safe use training; as well as hosting training sessions for the tutors and technicians at Makita’s Milton Keynes headquarters.

Kevin Brannigan, marketing manager, Makita UK, says: “This is an extremely worthy partnership and we are delighted to help talented young people as they complete their education and enter the workforce. They are highly gifted and we feel sure they will be running their own workshops in time. We wish this year’s students tremendous luck in their careers and look forward to working with the next group of third year students in their final year.”