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Harriet (Furniture)

Harriet Speed studied at City of Oxford College because it was “the best place to learn how to design and make furniture.”

Harriet is the brains behind This Girl Makes, an inclusive blog, online community and events programme that aims to promote craft and celebrate women in design.

Harriet explains: “This Girl Makes is a result of there being very few female designer-makers who are regarded as household names. As the demand for younger furniture makers steadily grows, the necessity to inspire and cultivate a new generation of creatives is vital for its survival in the UK. Whether the emerging talent is male or female, it is crucial for the success of the industry that it is representative of both sexes, primarily for the sake of diversity and variety of ideas.” 

Asked why she moved on the Activate Learning’s Rycotewood Furniture Centre after having studied an Art Foundation course in Newcastle, Harriet says: “I chose (this programme) because it was so practical. We were in the workshop a lot of the time, working at a very high level. Having your own workbench for the whole three years helps you to find your feet.”
“College taught me resilience, as I hadn’t done furniture making before. What they teach you is challenging … but I kept trying, and eventually got up to a good standard.”
“The tutors and staff are really amazing, thanks to them for making the student experience what it is.”

On completion of the programme, Harriet went on to work for global design brand Ercol Furniture as a Furniture Design Engineer.