What kind of people take a year out of their lives and join us here at Rowden? What are the skills and personal qualities are necessary to make a success of a furniture making course like this?
We have been teaching people furniture making and how to make a living from making furniture since 1983. This page is intended as an overview of some of our more recent graduates, who have spent a year at Rowden and are now making furniture or working in industry.
Ross and Dave both trained in furniture making here recently, and are now really making strides with Young and Norgate. They, at last report, have a staff of eight, with pieces currently showing in Vivien Westwood’s shops in London, as well as in flagship Store in Corso Venezia, Milan. Young and Norgate specialise in joinery and furniture.
They combine the skills of Ross Norgate and Dave Young. Ross trained as a carpenter and joiner before significantly stepping up his skills in his woodworking course at Rowden. Dave has a successful business career behind him and developed a flair for design during his time with us. Together, they are a powerful combination.
Jonathan and Lakshmi both trained here and have joined forces to create a highly-regarded furniture design company in the local area – Bark Furniture. They met after their separate courses at Rowden and first set up a workshop together. Now, they have a well regarded prosperous business with the strapline, “Quality Furniture Handmade in Cornwall”. Jonathan told us that when attending a show in London a specifier for a large retail outfit came to their stand and said: “Ah, you are the quality people” – and that is exactly how they want to be regarded.
Christian O’Reilly joined us after a career in studio design work for the auto industry, working with companies like Volvo and Audi. He translated that three-dimensional design knowledge into a small, at this moment, one man business. Like many former students who come here for a year, he and his young family decided that North Devon was a very beautiful place to stay, so they settled down and grew roots in this county with a workshop not too far from our own here at Rowden.
Ben Rawlinson is a Rowden past pupil of our twelve month designer maker course. He has taken the intricate skills he learned at our workshops and translated them into a successful career crafting bespoke furniture in London. His tactile designs feature flowing curves and subtle details, which have gained him industry renown and client loyalty.
Jonathan Markovitz trained in this workshop in the late 1990’s after a period as a building surveyor and a rather challenging experience at a London Art College. He used the year here to develop a range of small-batch products that he took to exhibitions in London. His approach was always to set himself up in business with the support of his family. This he did running a small workshop, first of all here in Devon and later moving to his present workshop and home near Oxford where Jonathan runs a small commercial and training workshop inspired by the Rowden experience.
James Morley studied here in 1999. After a career in the military and having tried his hand at the stock market and as an administrator at a race course. His military experience as a British Army officer and tank commander during the first Gulf War convinced him of his abilities to organise himself and the people around him, but he seemed to need to find a way of doing that in a small business. James used the course here as a springboard to set himself up immediately after finishing in a one-man business. James is supported by his partner Di. At the end of the year they contacted all their friends and relatives, all of their acquaintances, and told them of their venture; gathering an order book of commissions that got James making and subcontracting to other makers in his first year of business. In that time he stayed here at Rowden Farm and used our head tutor, Daren Milman as sounding boards while they found a location for their own workshop. They set up a gallery right in a honeypot tourist village with a workshop, renting out bench space and taking on their own apprentice.
Stefan Höhn is a Swiss furniture designer-maker who studied at Rowden Atelier in 2011, and since has specialised in furniture restoration and preservation of timber monuments. However, he also designs a selection of handcrafted furniture in a contemporary style, which you can view on his website.
Clifford came to us with a former career in I.T, wanting to break away from the computer screens and the office. He has since founded Fine Box Maker specialising in bespoke boxes.
Ed Wild is our in-house furniture designer maker and tutor. After training here at Rowden he established himself as a quality designer maker with his own clients creating beautifully hand crafted furniture. In 2014 he won the Wesley-Barrell Craft Awards for Furniture. You can find out more about him and his work over at his website.
“Following in the tradition of fine English furniture, Edward Wild creates bespoke handmade furniture in a clean simple style. Combining contemporary design and skilled craftsmanship with the finest materials, each piece is finished with an attention to detail making it unique.”
Shota Yamaguchi came to England to train with us at Rowden. He returned to the USA and continued making before setting up Syd Furniture.
After Enda Scott’s training here at Rowden he has made a bit of a name for himself exhibiting furniture designs in Ireland, including winning the RDS Award for Excellence and the California Gold Medal in 2014
As his website says:
“Through the chosen medium of wood, each concept is developed in a manner that explores the organic characteristics of the material within the distinct sculptural form of the overall design. The process itself employs traditional cabinetmaking techniques, yet the innovative nature of the design frequently requires the workshop to push the boundaries of existing practice in the realisation of each piece.”
Douglas Williams joined Rowden not long out of school. He came to Rowden where our rigorous exercises and demands did not deter him. He went on to work first as an apprentice then as a maker at the lauded Edward Barnsley Workshop near Petersfield. He then moved onto Silver Lining Furniture and is now a key member at David Linley the largest bespoke furniture company in Europe.
Jack Pawsey completed our twelve-month designer maker course in December 2016 with an amazing arsenal of furniture in his portfolio. He had some site experience prior to joining but we helped Jack bring his making to a new level. His final major project (the ATEN sideboard, pictured above) won awards, including first prize at Somerset Guild Annual Furniture Prize.
Soon after this project, Jack was commissioned to craft a high-end desk for an interior designer client in London. This was a fantastic opportunity for Jack to get some real-life experience, not only delivering within a real world deadline but also making to a high standard.
If you would like to see more of Jack’s work be sure to check out his website here.
Andrew Dominic came to Rowden circa 2007 and went on to set up the successful Andrew Dominic Furniture in Capetown in 2009.
After Tim Lovett’s year here we were able to find him a place with a workshop in Hoboken, New York. There he flowered into an even more capable maker working with Kalle and Tom Hucker – two exceptional furniture makers we are connected with. Then, with his partner, Tim set up Rigbylovett.com in Oakland.
We spawn great making businesses all over the world.