How did you get into furniture making?

Straight after I had finished my last exam at school I saw an advert for a furniture assembler and thought I would apply. I got the job and started straight away. The job role wasn’t what I expect at first, but I stuck to it and worked my way up to be a supervisor of the assembly department, and was responsible for meeting weekly production targets.


You were a student at robinson house studio at one point, what made you want to do a course here?

After about 20 years working for 3 employers in 4 jobs in the furniture industry, I decided to take a furniture making course to learn skills I didn’t have. There were two courses I was thinking about doing, one of them was Marc’s at robinson house studio. I went to visit and had a chat about the course, I found Marc to be knowledgeable and easy to talk to. I liked the flowing curves of L’Orchidée which Marc was making at the time. I must have spent about two hours there, chatting to Marc and some furniture makers who rented benches. I went away to have a think about the course as it was quite a commitment, and within a couple of days I decided that it was for me.


What did you do when you finished the course?

I rented a bench at the studio and tried to get some work through a local advert, the work was slow and mainly fitted work. Marc asked if I could help with making the first Nautilus, which I did. Time went by and my volume of work wasn’t enough, but luckily for me Marc had a second Nautilus he wanted to make that was to go to a London gallery. From then on I made more of Marc’s pieces.


Do you have a favourite piece you’ve worked on?

My red acrylic cabinet on a stand with wenge legs that I made while on the course is one of my favourites. I also like the Nautilus 2 for the stunning sycamore veneer and the structural way of making. I also really like the Library steps for the design, and the Shell that I’m currently working on is so visually vibrant and different to anything else we’ve made.


Is there a particular aspect of making you enjoy?

I like experimenting with different techniques and making pieces that are unique. It’s great starting with a design and then working out how we’ll make it.


Can you tell us a bit about your current project?

I’ve just finished making a large model of a shell for a client’s office in New York. I’m now going to be making a considerably larger version of the shell that will hang/rotate from the ceiling in a restaurant for the same client.


Do you have any advice for someone getting started in furniture making?

You’ll need patience, perseverance and dedication – and keep designing and experimenting with techniques and materials. Sometimes thinking outside the box really helps.

Interview with Chris Funnell, Maker