ONE of the UK’s leading art figures has backed a guild for students of a prominent furniture design school.
Professor Richard Demarco OBE has become honorary chairman of the “Fine Furniture Guild” established by the Chippendale International School of Furniture in Haddington.
The school, which attracts students from as far afield as the United States, India and Australia, has an international reputation for its immersive 30-week courses teaching furniture-making skills.
It is hoped the Guild can be used to create an online platform for customers of fine furniture – putting them directly in contact with a designer near to them.
It also offers those customers the guarantee that the furniture designer and woodworker is a qualified craftsman or women, who has successfully completed the exacting Chippendale course.
Chippendale School principal, Anselm Fraser, said: “This is a unique venture in the woodworking schools sector.”
“It also represents a very real commitment by the school to former students here and internationally.”
Professor Demarco is one of the UK’s leading arts commentators, himself an artist and one of the most influential advocates for contemporary art.
He maintains a relationship with the school through the award of a prize at the end of each year for “most outstanding student”.
In recent years, the School has introduced additional commercial modules into the curriculum – including business planning and marketing, website design and public relations.
The school has also created incubation space for alumni to set up in business in East Lothian, while still having access to the school’s specialist equipment and teaching staff.
Currently, some ten alumni work from the school campus.
Mr Fraser said: “We recognise that some students are better than others in marketing their businesses and connecting with a buying audience.”
“The purpose of the Guild is to provide alumni with an additional resource to engage with customers local to them”.
It’s hoped the guild will allow alumni to continue pursuing furniture design after they leave the school by giving them business support, while helping to attract further interest in Scottish craftsmanship.
“We believe the Guild has lessons for other niche educational institutions. It will showcase Scottish craftsmanship to international audiences and help support graduating furniture designers as they transition into employment or self-employment,” said Mr Fraser.
He continued: “We are also immensely grateful to East Lothian Council for grant funding to help us develop the business plan and help take us to where we are now.”