Local schools sweep the board as My Big Furniture Idea competition winners are announced

PUBLISHED: 10:55 12 April 2011 | UPDATED: 19:10 20 February 2013

– the winning students from Princes Risborough School pictured with their Design and Technology teacher, Charlotte Loveland (far right); Tony Smart MBE from The Worshipful Company of Furniture Makers (far left); and Chair of the judging panel, Dr Lynn Jones, Department Manager: Furniture, at Bucks New University.

– the winning students from Princes Risborough School pictured with their Design and Technology teacher, Charlotte Loveland (far right); Tony Smart MBE from The Worshipful Company of Furniture Makers (far left); and Chair of the judging panel, Dr Lynn Jones, Department Manager: Furniture, at Bucks New University.

Students from Princes Risborough School in Buckinghamshire, and Lord Williams's School in Thame, Oxon, have taken first prizes in the My Big Furniture Idea competition organised by Bucks New University to identify Britain's young design talent.

Students from Princes Risborough School in Buckinghamshire, and Lord Williamss School in Thame, Oxon, have taken first prizes in the My Big Furniture Idea competition organised by Bucks New University to identify Britains young design talent.

The students were judged on their designs for outdoor seating for use at their school or college. There were two entry categories, Key Stage 4 (age 14-15) and Key Stage 5 (age 16-18), with prizes awarded for first and second places in each category.

In the Key Stage 5 category competition, a team of pupils from Princes Risborough School took first prize for their inspired design for seating in a shelter, which was well-thought through and thoroughly practical. Their investigation into materials was exhaustive and they grappled with some serious design considerations. Their final solution is architecturally striking, functional and feasible.

Charlotte Loveland, Design and Technology teacher at Princes Risborough School, said: "To win first prize is a fantastic achievement! The students worked really well as a team, picking up on each other's strengths. They have gained valuable experience of working towardsa real design brief and through the design process, and it will help them in theirAS-level product design studies."

Alex Gill of Strodes College, Egham, Surrey, took the second prize. His design for a bench named Tercentenary Bench, reflects both the old and the new characteristics of the College. The old side of the bench has a traditional design in its construction and is made of timber, whilst the new side is designed to be marble shiny and new in its aesthetic appearance. It was considered a very good, location-sensitive design for a well-identified and appropriate setting within the College grounds.

In the younger age category, Key Stage 4, Lord Williams's School managed a clean sweep by winning both first and second prizes. First prizewinner, Oliver Picot's narrative justification for his design, Wave, was original and humorous in parts which made his design stand out. He was very keen to win and his competitive spirit was inspiring. Olivers design was beautifully hand-drawn and perfectly feasible for the locations he researched.

Second prizewinner, Katy Groves, took a more conservative approach and her design was very clever. She proposed that by assembling simple shapes cut out on a CNC (computer numerical control) machine, more or less could be added to make her seats bigger or smaller so enabling them to seat between two and ten people. The production logic and the flexibility of her design was considered amazing for a designer so young.

Beverley Reed, Design and Technology teacher from Lord Williamss School, said: We are delighted that Ollie and Katie were placed first and second in the My Big Furniture idea competition. They are both very dedicated, talented and motivated students who benefited greatly from the experience. All the students involved in submitting entries worked really hard and gained a lot from the process.

The prize for the winning students from each category will be to have their designs manufactured in Bucks New Universitys workshops, or for architectural scale designs, the University will build a professional scale model of the winning design.

The judges also awarded two commendations to Tom Pipkin of The Mandeville School near Aylesbury, and Thomas Hunt from Strodes College.

In total, over 70 individuals entered this years competition, double the numbers of entries received last year. Chair of the judging panel, Dr Lynn Jones, Department Manager: Furniture, at Bucks New University and Head of the National School of Furniture (High Wycombe), said:

When the entries were all laid out on the table it was an amazing sight! I felt rather humbled at the thought of all those school children doing all that work to enter the competition, for what was for many of them an extra-curricular activity. The teachers did a fantastic job of promoting the competition in their schools.

All schools and colleges had tackled issues of sustainability commendably, and had conducted impressive research around their schools and with their peers and teachers.

Special mention must go to Princes Risborough School for its health and safety awareness and team-building approach to the brief, and Strodes College should be particularly commended for its number of entries, as should Lord Williams's School for its high standard of presentation.

The competition is supported by The Worshipful Company of Furniture Makers, and the distinguished judging panel included Chair, Dr Lynn Jones from Bucks New University, Tony Smart MBE from The Worshipful Company of Furniture Makers, and Professor Gordon Mackay Kennedy, Emeritus Professor of Design, Nottingham Trent University and former Head of London College of Furniture.

The judging criteria used were: appropriate specification of materials; creative content; practicability and environmental consciousness.

Dr Jones continued: This is a really important project for the University; inspiring young people to nurture their enthusiasm for making things is critically important if we are to sustain a healthy and creative furniture industry in the UK. All the young pupils I met showed great entrepreneurial skill as well as impressive design ability for their age groups.

Bucks New University has a long tradition of providing skills relevant to the furniture industry. Originally founded in 1893 as a School of Science and Art, after the First World War the institution began to provide disabled veterans with skills such as cabinet making, carving and polishing, to help them find work in the numerous furniture factories for which High Wycombe became so well-known. Today, the University is acclaimed for its extensive provision of furniture design, furniture making, and furniture conservation and upholstery courses at undergraduate and postgraduate level.

Bucks New University along with Oxford & Cherwell Valley College have recently launched the new National School of Furniture (NSF). Through the partnership, the two institutions work together to provide education across all levels, from Level 1 (Certificate) through to Level 8 (PhD), to create an educational journey with flexible entry and exit points. It is hoped that local schools such as Princes Risborough and Lord Williamss Schools are encouraged to work in partnership with the University to help pupils understand the breadth of employment opportunities still available in the field of furniture designing, making, manufacturing and restoring in the world today.

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