Students experience the world of the UK furnishings industry in four-day tour

Industry tour

Two second year BA (Hons) Product and Furniture Design students Lydia Phillips and Scott Ridgway recently had the opportunity to gain an overview of the UK furnishings industry as part of The Furniture Makers’ Company student industrial tour.

Product and Furniture Design

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The four day tour took students around a number of North West furniture businesses to give them an insight into how the industry operates. The students had the unique opportunity to see inside factories, design offices and retailers of some of the UK’s leading furnishing businesses, getting an understanding of sales, marketing, manufacturing and design.

Companies included in the tour were tradesmen practical products and solution experts Festool, solid surface tool distributors CD (UK) Ltd, high-end luxury bed manufacturers Harrison Spinks, and furniture designers Knightsbridge.

Students spent the first day of the tour at Festool, a leading provider of power tools. The visitors heard more about the company ethos and how consumer health is an important factor – one of which has formed the marketing success of their brand. After a brief overview of the company history, students were separated into two groups to see the tools in use, giving an insight into the development stages undertook to improve each product.

On the second day the students visited mattress and bed-frame manufacturer Harrison Spinks. The visitors heard about the company’s determination to use as many environmentally friendly materials as possible. Harrison Spinks took time to emphasise their love of British manufacturing and home-grown materials. Gaining an understanding of the journey from raw materials through to the end product, the students also saw the strict and rigorous testing the products undertake.

Following on from Harrison Spinks the students took a short coach journey to CD (UK) Ltd to find out more about Corian UK. Corian can be used in kitchens, countertops and exhibitions and can be moulded, allowing all manner of shapes to be created with ease. The visitors undertook a training workshop, outlining the different processes available for the materials and even had the opportunity to take samples, which was incredibly popular.

The last visit in the tour was a day spent in Knightsbridge Furniture, a contract furniture company who specialise in creating solutions for challenging environments. These environments include settings such as hospitals, residential homes and areas in hospitality and furniture for these sectors requires an in-depth understanding of key factors. The tour began in the timber store, going into the factory and the design studio. Here students had a look at rough initial concepts and how they developed into final idea production.

After the tour, Lydia said:

Scott Ridgway added: “From visiting companies like Harrison Spinks and Knightsbridge I have realised the importance of considering every aspect of a products production so that it could be realistically made in a production line style environment.”

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