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Exhibition celebrates 80 years of furniture design and craft at Rycotewood

02 November 2017

Students and alumni of the Rycotewood Furniture Centre at City of Oxford College will be displaying their work at Oxford Brookes University in an exhibition that celebrates 80 years of furniture design and making at the centre

On display in the Glass Tank on the Headington campus from Monday 6 November, the exhibition, entitled Thinking through Making: Celebrating 80 years of Furniture Design and Craft at Rycotewood, will also show how students engage in the research and development of furniture through the making process.

Joseph Bray, course leader for Rycotewood Furniture Degree, said: “Over a period of 80 years staff, students and programmes have always changed however what has remained constant is the ongoing sense of community that goes beyond people and place - Rycotewood is a community with a passion for furniture.  A shared vision and high expectations provide a distinct place where all can learn together.  It provides an environment where creativity and craftsmanship can flourish. 

Graduates have long been renowned for excellence in craftsmanship; skills that are developed at the bench through continuous workshop practice.    However they can offer so much more.  The first hand experiences of materials and processes gained through making mould them into designers with knowledge.  Their problem solving skills blossom through making - working it out with head and hands working in unison.  But we often choose to describe them as designer craftspeople - those who give attention to every last detail - makers who care - combining head, hand and heart. 

Janice Howard, Senior Lecturer at Oxford Brookes University said: “This exhibition will celebrate the art of thinking through making in furniture design. It will allow us to glimpse the unique dialogue between maker and object. 

 “You will see how ideas are generated and resolved, and the ways in which materials can be manipulated to create new forms and expressions.”

The exhibition will showcase designs from current students and alumni including Simon Pengelly, one of the most important contributors to the British Furniture Industry over the last 25 years.

Individual works recognised by high-profile industry awards such as The Worshipful Company of Furniture Makers and The Young Furniture Makers Award will also be on display.

The range of works include experimental research in the form of samples, maquettes, drawings and film demonstrating the thorough processes behind the development of contemporary furniture design.

The current students involved in the exhibition are from the Furniture: Design and Make BA (Hons) course, which is delivered in partnership between City of Oxford College and Oxford Brookes University.

Rycotewood Furniture Centre has been educating students in the design and craft of fine furniture since 1937. The internationally renowned workshop has an established reputation in the furniture industry and its alumni are leaders in the field.

The exhibition will run until 1 December 2017 in the Glass Tank on the Headington Campus at Oxford Brookes University. Admission is free and open to all members of the public. There will also be a series of events.

Monday 13 and 27 November, 3-4 pm, Glass Tank

Joseph Bray, Course Leader for Rycotewood Furniture Degree programmes, will give an introduction to the history of furniture design and craft at Rycotewood spanning the last 80 years. Passionate about furniture, Joseph has been involved in the furniture industry for over twenty years. In this walking tour of the exhibition, he will reveal some of the thinking behind the design and making of works on display.

Monday 20 November 3-4 pm, Glass Tank

Talk and presentation by Rycotewood alumnus Charlie Whinney followed by a short demonstration in a nearby technical lab showcasing the art of steam bending.

Space is limited to 15 places for the demonstration so slots will be generated on a first come first serve basis. If you wish to attend, please email or call 01865 483403.

To find out more about the events related to this exhibition visit the Glass Tank website  or email