Alys has a BA Contemporary Furniture Design and an MA Furniture Design from Buckinghamshire New University and works as the design manager for Morgan Furniture...
I specialised in three-dimensional design on a BTEC National Diploma in Art Foundation Studies, so furniture design was a natural and instinctive progression.
After I graduated with a BA Contemporary Furniture Design from Buckinghamshire New University, I applied for predominantly sales roles and worked for a well-known furniture store as a furniture sales assistant, which provided me with valuable design and commercial sales experience.
While working, I developed my own designs and had some press and exhibition success with one product. I decided to return to the same university to study part time for an MA in Furniture Design, hoping to find design employment when I finished. As part of the MA course we visited Morgan Furniture on a study tour and were advised that Morgan had been searching for some time for a designer with the required skills. I applied for the role and was successful.
My degree was vital in securing my current position. Morgan was looking for a design graduate and I wouldn't have got an interview without my qualifications. Although my course did not teach me how to use the full range of computer programs currently standard within the industry, it did teach me how to design and how to realise my ideas. It also taught me how to work with other designs and how to work hard to achieve my goals.
I have responsibility for the day-to-day management of the design team at Morgan. All of our products are designed by Katerina Zachariades, our design director, and our in-house design studio, Morgan Studio. I manage the design team through the process of design development, prototyping and new product launch.
When I started at Morgan I was a design assistant. I worked alongside an engineering assistant and together we provided support for the design director. During this time I was given the opportunity to take on additional responsibility, and after two years I was appointed design manager. We have since grown the design team and our design director has been able to concentrate more of her time on creative work, feeling confident that the day-to-day running of the team is being managed.
What I enjoy most about my job is the creativity involved and getting to see our designs realised into market-leading products. I also enjoy having the opportunity to learn from the Morgan directors in both management and design. My job is a rare opportunity.
I have found the personnel management aspect of my job quite challenging. However, I have recently completed the Dale Carnegie Leadership Training for Managers course, which has given me added confidence in managing my team.
In the future I would like to assist Morgan in achieving their plans for growth. I would like Morgan Studio to release more collections annually.
My advice to students interested in a career in furniture design is to create a small pdf portfolio to accompany your application. Make sure you also have a great contemporary full portfolio, developed during your course (you can't just make it up on paper at the end!). Write a good CV. At interview you must put your personality across, show an understanding of the industry and be able to demonstrate how you have been proactive in gaining experience relating to the position you are applying for. Show that this is the job you really want.
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