Class War and Furniture Making

I received a very pompous e-mail recently from a fellow furniture manufacturer. He protested about my use of the Woody Nooz name, claiming “it made him cringe”Learn more by visiting Furniture Maker

On my side, the choice of the name is very deliberate, a political choice. Americans and Canadians among you would be shocked at my use of language, but I will remind you that Britain is a class-ridden society, even in the 21st century.

The term designer didn’t mean very much before I started down this route. Sociologist and psychologist, one of the emerging occupations. Artists such as potters Bernard Leach and Michael Cardew and furniture manufacturer Edward Barnsley were employed to leave their well-established workshops when I was studying, come to colleges and bring with them their real-world experience. All changed around the time I walked aimlessly through the Art School.

In-house lecturers considered the existence of these “pros” just too difficult. We saw a new emerging breed of white collar design tutors in the 1970s at the Royal College of Arts. Students were no longer expected to do their big projects themselves. Instead, technicians did it. Chaps with half moon glasses in brown overalls and a lifetime in the industry were used to produce prototypes for the students.

Real furniture designers didn’t need too much interaction with material in the 1980s, when I was struggling to get going, being a Woody was a term of violence, definitely not enough to work up a sweat, all that was for the technicians. In the same lineage as Bernard Leach or Michael Cardew and the marvellous Edward Barnsley, I happily declare myself to be a Woody.