24 July 2024, 16:25
By Furniture News Jun 21, 2024

60 seconds with … Charles Dedman

To mark its 60th anniversary, The Furniture Makers’ Company looked to the future by highlighting 60 of the industry’s most promising young professionals (aged under 35) through its ‘60 for 60’ campaign. To discover how they view the trade, Furniture News is inviting these rising stars to share their stories – this month, our quickfire questions go to Charles Dedman, head of design at maker of luxury outdoor furniture, Gaze Burvill.

In one sentence, describe what you do …

I head up the passionate design team at Gaze Burvill, creating beautiful and lasting designs.

What makes you well suited to the role?

I’ve come to realise I am a furniture designer and enthusiastic encourager – which means I have passion for creative design and problem solving, but also I get enjoyment from supporting and seeing my peers achieve their goals, much like a coach.

How did you come to work in the furniture industry?

As a son of a property restorer, I’ve grown up surrounded by natural materials and sympathy to its provenance and potential. This inspired me to study furniture design at school, college and university, concluding in 2015 when I completed a two-year City & Guilds in furnituremaking following a degree in furniture and product design.

How has your career progressed since you started?

I started with Gaze Burvill in January 2016, following a fairly lengthy (but relevant) education and employment in furniture. My first role was assistant designer, where I supported and learnt from the design manager – not only about evolving a range of products, but also the transition from Inventor to Fusion 360 CAD/CAM software.

One year later, I progressed to the role of designer (customer facing). The work included working closely with Simon Burvill on the design of the prestigious Remembrance & Hope bespoke seat, made out of the Verdun Oak and installed in Kew Gardens for Remembrance Day in November 2018, and the creation of The Woodland Seat, using full five-axis CNC capability.

Four years on, I took the lead role in the design department, which included successfully creating and implementing an annual design placement programme for third-year BA design students, which started in August 2021, and is now in its third year.

Then, in April 2022, my role broadened with a greater company focus on R&D. Working with the other departments to create the UK’s finest outdoor timber furniture and kitchens, great emphasis is put on sustainability, longevity, wonder and design excellence.

Alongside this I have taken part in two business mentoring programmes – the Hothouse programme by the Crafts Council in 2016, and a mini MBA diploma by Pro-Actions in 2021.

Where do you want to be in five years’ time?

I hope to be building on the successes of the new interior furniture brand, Meon, within Gaze Burvill, launching later this year. By this stage with the team, we’ll be offering sustainable, beautiful and comfortable chairs and tables to the market.

What’s been the biggest surprise in how the industry operates?

How small and friendly it is. From being a student visiting shows to being a professional exhibiting at them, I’m always surprised how small our industry is, despite it growing. Everyone is very open with their advice and experience – and The Furniture Makers’ Company is a fantastic organisation for networking and support!

What does being named one of the ‘60 for 60’ mean to you?

A huge amount. By being nominated by my employer/mentor Simon Burvill, I feel confident in my senior role at the company – and then to be selected by the esteemed judging panel at The Furniture Makers’ Company cements it. To meet the other recipients at the award ceremony, and hear about their journey so far, was fantastic – the future of the industry is strong!

What would you say to encourage others to join the industry?

Do it! But keep asking questions, and be open to the many avenues that are open to you. It sounds cheesy, but everyone is different and all roles are unique, so don’t feel intimidated if you aren’t the same as someone else in the industry.

Create a network of thinkers, designers, makers, technicians and procurers – all their skills will help you traverse your career.

Find out more about the ‘60 for 60’ stars here.


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