Paying tribute to Richard Snell


The Faculty of Arts, Design and Media is extremely saddened to hear of the passing of Emeritus Professor of Design Richard Snell.

Richard joined Birmingham City University (then Birmingham Polytechnic) in 1989 as head of furniture design. Richard’s specialism lay in revolutionising chair design and produced innovative designs to benefit schools, orchestras and care homes across the world.

Alongside his colleague David Rowe, Richard worked in collaboration with the City of Birmingham Orchestra to investigate the serious postural problems faced by musicians. The work investigated the postural and ergonomic requirements of musicians, incorporating complex curved and laminated components for the seat and back. This culminated in the Opus musician’s chair, which is currently used in the Birmingham’s Symphony Hall, the Royal Albert Hall and concert venues worldwide.

“Richard was instrumental in shaping the former Department of Three Dimensional Design (which now sits as “Design”) in the School today” Professor Kevin Singh, Head of Birmingham School of Architecture and Design said. “Whilst being a champion of Product and Furniture Design he promoted cross disciplinary working and collaboration between staff, values which we still hold dear today. He will he sadly missed.”

Richard continued his work with the university through his research and exhibitions, keen that a centre for design and research would be established in the Midlands. Richard’s long-term design partner David Rowe commented that Richard had worked with him in his final days to resolve their latest project, a fully recyclable plastic school chair.

Jason Nicholson, Course Director of BA (Hons) Product and Furniture Design added:

“Following his retirement, Richard continued to have a strong connection with the course, School and Faculty, absorbing himself in many design related activities from curating exhibitions to guest lectures on design and ergonomics. It will be extremely sad not to see Richard at the graduate shows and all the future design events which he was always so keen to be a part of. Richard Snell was a truly inspirational designer, colleague and friend that will be sorely missed by all those that had the pleasure of knowing and working with him.”

Return to the previous page.