Looking back on our 35th Graduate Show

Despite a turbulent year, the Chippendale International School of Furniture’s class of 2020 put on a stellar display of their work at our Graduate Exhibition & Sale earlier this month. Our yearly show is the opportunity for our graduating students to exhibit the fruits of their labour following nine intensive months on the Professional Course. This year’s event was especially significant, highlighting both our 35th year and the resilience of our students in the face of COVID-19 challenges.

We knew that, because of COVID restrictions, fewer visitors than usual would be allowed to attend the event. That’s why, for the first time ever, we launched the show virtually as well as in person. This proved a hit, with people admiring the graduate designs from far and wide across our Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn channels, as well as on our website. On display were the designs from our 20 graduates, with visitors also having the opportunity to purchase the final pieces. It was a testament to the excellence of our graduates that so many sold a number of their pieces across the show’s four days.

2020 Student of the Year 

In the December issue of Woodworker & Good Woodworking (on sale 20 November) you can see a full feature on our graduates, highlighting their designs, what they enjoyed most about the Professional Course, and what their plans are for the future. After the exhibition was wrapped up, we then held a graduation ceremony for the students with friends and family joining on a zoom call. Special awards were also given out to highlight those students who really shone throughout the last year. 

Our Student of the Year for 2020 is Tom Powell, who designed and made some exceptional furniture pieces while studying on the Professional course this year. It was a difficult decision with Fran Bullinger, Stewart Musk, Richard England and Jason Hicks all making strong claims.

The furniture that Tom designed and made demonstrated such a high level of technical ability, being beautifully simple as well as utterly functional. He had a clear idea of what his signature style was from very early on in the course and that was apparent when admiring his exhibition stand back in October.
The branding of his new business, Moidart Woodwork, is clean, contemporary and strikes the right chord with the buying public. That was clear to see from the success he had in selling the furniture he made while on the course. We are also delighted that he will be staying on with us to launch his business from our graduate workshops, Myreside Studios.

More awards

There were also more awards announced, with James Bullen winning ‘Student’s Choice’, which was chosen among the students themselves. ‘Best Design’ went to Fran Bullinger for her outstanding ‘Forest Cabinet’, while the ‘Marketing’ award went to Richard England. Finally, visitors to the exhibition voted for Stewart Musk as this year’s ‘Public’s Choice’ winner.
Although we are sad to see our 2020 graduates leave the workshop, we are excited to welcome a new group of students for our 2020/21 Professional Course, which kicked off in November. We look forward to seeing their skills sharpen and creativity thrive over the coming months, so watch this space for updates on their progress! 

If you’d love to make a career out of woodworking, have a look at the Chippendale School’s intensive 30-week Professional Course.