The Young Furniture Makers exhibition, organised by The Furniture Makers’ Company, made a triumphant return earlier this month, following a three-year hiatus, with 100 of the UK’s best emerging designers and makers exhibiting cutting-edge furniture and lighting in the City of London to packed out crowds.

The Young Furniture Makers exhibition was set up by The Furniture Makers’ Company over 15 years ago for school children, students and graduates to showcase their work to the design community and connect with potential employers.

This year’s event was the first live exhibition since 2019 due to the pandemic and took place on Wednesday 12th October at Furniture Makers’ Hall and the Dutch Church in Austin Friars, London.

Clare Ng being presented the Bespoke Award by William Hardie

Students and graduates travelled from across the UK to be part of event, with the youngest exhibitor being 12 years old, the oldest at 59 and one exhibitor returning from Switzerland to be part of this wonderful celebration of furniture and furnishing design.

Sponsored and supported by Axminster Tools, Sanderson Design Group and the January Furniture Show, the exhibition opened at 3pm with excited visitors quickly filling the two venues to see the incredible designs on show. In addition to the stunning furniture and lighting on display, guests and exhibitors were treated to three short informative seminars that formed a Talks Programme.

Jack Briggs being presented the Blum Best in Show Award

The anticipation and excitement of the exhibition built throughout the day with the event culminating with a drink reception, sponsored by HIX, and the announcement of the Young Furniture Makers Awards. Hundreds of people packed out the Dutch Church to hear which pieces had been named top of their category, with special guest William Hardie, founder of Studio Hardie, announcing this year’s winners.

The winners of the awards were:

  • National School Design Prize: Jim Notcutt for Chair
  • Young Furniture Makers Bespoke Award, sponsored by Axminster Tools: Clare Ng for the Gemini Cabinet
  • Young Furniture Makers Design Award: Jack Briggs for Wave
  • Young Furniture Makers Textiles Award, sponsored by Sanderson Design Group: Krav Metcalfe for the Cochise Chair
  • Best in Show Prize sponsor by Blum: Jack Briggs for Wave

Eight outstanding pieces were also selected to be part of a special feature at the 2023 January Furniture Show (22nd-26th January, NEC Birmingham), giving the winners the opportunity to have their work viewed by 22,000+ visitors and the opportunity to build high level contacts.

Jack Briggs and Wave

Tony Attard OBE DL, Master of The Furniture Makers’ Company, said: “The Young Furniture Makers exhibition was an absolute triumph – it made me very proud to be Master of The Furniture Makers’ Company. The exhibition demonstrates how we make a difference in

the most tangible way to students and graduates. I am sure that many of the designers who exhibited will be inspired to pursue a career in the furnishing industry.”

William Hardie, founder of Studio Hardie, special guest presenter of the Young Furniture Makers Awards, said: “I was astounded by the calibre of craftsmanship and quality of design shown at the Young Furniture Makers Exhibition, it is so inspiring to see that children as young as 12 are designing and making beautiful and well thought out pieces.

“The exhibition was a brilliant chance for young makers to show and present their work to industry leaders and the public at a prestigious venue. The result was over 100 remarkable and diverse pieces of furniture, demonstrating that the future of the furniture making industry looks very bright.”

Lisa Montague, CEO of Sanderson Design Group, sponsor of the Young Furniture Makers Textiles Award, said: “At Sanderson Design Group, we were thrilled to sponsor the exhibition’s inaugural Textiles Award. Nurturing the next generation of creative talent is something we hold very close to our hearts, so it was hugely exciting to see such skilful craftsmanship from so young a cohort of creators. Congratulations, again, to Krav for winning first prize, thanks to The Furniture Makers’ Company for hosting a fantastic event, and we cannot wait to return next year.”

Alan Styles, CEO of Axminster Tools, sponsor of the Young Furniture Makers Bespoke Award, said: “Axminster Tools has been supporting the Young Furniture Makers Exhibition for a number of years. We believe the benefits of celebrating and encouraging craft skills are far reaching. For those of us in the industry, the exhibition is the perfect opportunity to connect with the next generation of makers and celebrate the future of design. I am always blown away by the level of talent and skill on show from our Young Furniture Makers and this year was no exception. Congratulations to the winners and all those who exhibited.”

Winners of the January Furniture Show prize: Hannah Richards, Philippa Bourne, Sam Attard, Luke Harrison, Lydia Huntington, William Bevis, Isabel Rough, Katie FitzJohn

Zoe Bonser, portfolio director at Clarion Retail, organiser of the January Furniture Show, said: “‘Myself and the team at The January Furniture Show were delighted to be a part of the 2022 Young Furniture Makers Exhibition last week. It was such a special event which brought together new and emerging talent in a beautiful setting. The designs showcased were exceptional and it was so lovely to be able to meet with and celebrate all the students’ hard work. We are very much looking forward to hosting this year’s winners at our next event in January and helping to showcase all the incredible designers to the entire furniture industry.’’

Clare Ng, Bespoke Award winner, said: “It’s truly an honour to have won the Bespoke Award. The whole experience was utterly surreal and emotional, and I’m grateful for all the support I received throughout the entire process of creating the Gemini Cabinet. No doubt it is a strong recognition, also a reminder for my future self to stay passionate and dedicated in this journey.”

Jack Briggs, winner of the Design Award and Blum Best in Show Prize, said: “I would like to thank The Furniture Makers’ Company for the opportunity of exhibiting my ‘Wave’ sustainable manufacture project at the Young Furniture Makers exhibition. With such a high standard of talented designers, I was shocked but thrilled to have won both of the awards and I am excited for what the future holds.”