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Furniture designer: Job description

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Furniture designers produce designs for items of furniture and related products. These designs may then be mass produced or made in small batches or as one-off individual pieces.

Designers may be involved in the design aspect of the work alone or they may be highly skilled craftsmen and designer/makers, producing the items from their own designs.

Designers work alone or alongside colleagues creating concepts and designs that balance innovative design, functional requirements and aesthetic appeal.

The process of furniture design demands creativity, business awareness and skills in marketing, finance, sales and manufacturing.

The role may involve a number of functions, particularly for the self-employed, including:

  • designer;
  • production manager;
  • buyer;
  • salesperson;
  • accountant;
  • maintenance engineer.

Typical work activities

Work activities vary according to whether you are a self-employed furniture designer working alone, working with one or two other like-minded craftspeople, or whether you are employed by a manufacturing company with a group of experienced furniture designers. Tasks are likely to include the following:

  • studying, researching and planning various styles of furniture design;
  • finding ways to improve furniture items already manufactured;
  • keeping informed about design trends and developments;
  • selecting suitable materials, which might include wood, metal, plastic and textiles;
  • discussing designs with clients for custom ordering or with manufacturers;
  • generating sample designs using computer-aided design (CAD), card models, sketches or hard prototypes;
  • using software packages such as AutoCAD, Inventor, SolidWorks and Photoshop;
  • preparing detailed final designs;
  • liaising with craftsmen or production department staff - such as production managers, marketing staff and design engineers - about the process of construction or manufacture;
  • evaluating issues such as pricing and fixing costs, fashion, purchasing, safety, materials and manufacturing methods and techniques;
  • using various tools to complete projects from raw materials to finished furniture items;
  • organising plans and schedules with respect to the availability of resources;
  • attending workshops, seminars and training on various types of manufacturing and furniture design.

If you're a self-employed designer, you'll need to allocate a portion of your time to marketing and business administration and promote yourself through advertising your services or attending furnishing fairs and exhibitions.

Many designers have a natural interest in associated fields of design and may spend some time on collaborative projects working, for example, with theatre set designers or retail interior designers on certain projects.

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Written by AGCAS editors
October 2014

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