Today we continue to showcase the Young & New Furniture Makers – 5 talented individuals whose work is thoughtful, unique and inspiring – selected as part of our Fishpools’ Charity Programme for 2016.

Last week we met Jo Baker, and today we’re learning a bit about our next designer, Daniel Harrison.

How did you get into furniture making? Has this always been a dream of yours, or is it a more recent transition?

After school I experienced a range of art and design techniques through a foundation course at Falmouth College of Art in Cornwall. Although I already had a strong interest in 3D design, it was great to learn the broad range of techniques the course offered. This led me to train in bench joinery as a staircase maker from 2008-2012 near my home in South Wales; this is when I knew I had found my vocation in life – working with wood.

In 2013 I was offered a place on the Furniture Design and Make Course at the Rycotewood Furniture Centre, part of the National School of Furniture in Oxford. Here I found the freedom to express myself through design and slowly built up a portfolio of work. And this is where I am today; in June I will graduate from Rycotewood and begin the next chapter in my life working as a furniture maker.

If you could pick only one influencer (designer, brand, important person in your life) that’s had a major impact on your work, who/what would that be?

John Makepeace: while I was working as a joiner I was given his book A Spirit of Adventure in Craft and Design by the vicar in our local church. It opened my eyes to the world of fine furniture making for the first time. It also showed me that the boundaries of design, craft and art could be merged.

Spires Dreaming table

‘Spires Dreaming’ console table by Daniel Harrison (inspired by the Church of St Mary in Oxford)

How do you ‘start’ a new piece?

Generally I will build a body of research on a topic or theme that gives the piece meaning. I will draw and create watercolour sketches before making a scale model to lift the design into the third dimension. A full-scale mock up may be required before going ahead with the final piece.

On average, how many different drafts do you go through when making a new piece? Do you have a clear image of what you’re creating, or does it become clearer as you go along?

I let the designs evolve on the page; by constantly re-drawing certain elements of a concept, I build a picture of what I want to create. At this stage anything goes, and I like to have a structure to be able to move from idea to idea without being hung up on one particular concept.

What’s the most difficult part of designing something new?

For me condensing all the research and concepts into one piece. There is so much inspiration out there, it can be a little overwhelming, especially when looking at big themes such as architecture or nature.

Where do you think the industry’s headed? What are your trend predictions for the future?

There are lots of small workshops being established now, and we are in the middle of a craft revival. This is great news for designers, makers and crafts people as their work is being appreciated widely, and the market is opening up. With social media, work can be showcased anywhere in the world. This is a really exciting time for crafts people and I feel very positively about the future, although we have to thank the pioneers of the movement in various fields who have paved the way for us today.

For more information on Fishpools’ charities, click here.

For more information on the Furniture Makers’ Company, click here.

To see more of Daniel’s work, visit his site here.

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