As the furnishing industry’s charity, The Furniture Makers’ Company has a clear mission to provide leadership to the industry and a framework of support with which to inspire excellence, support those in need and educate for the future.

On Thursday the company hosted its annual Young Furniture Makers (YFM) exhibition, sponsored by corporate member Axminster Tools & Machinery. There were exhibits from students at all levels, from the numerous colleges and universities the company supports. Also on show was work from schoolchildren who won the DFS Poster Competition and the Proskills/MakeIT Competition.

New this year are the Young Furniture Makers Bespoke Award, won by Connor Holland and sponsored by Festool, and the Young Furniture Makers Design Award, won by Christa Sylvana Tjong and sponsored by Gabbertas Studio and Crofts & Assinder. Awards were also made for numerous industry partnerships, where companies such as Crofts & Assinder, Ercol, Hands, Gordon Russell and Willis & Gambier worked with university students on specific projects.

The excitement and buzz surrounding the event tells a compelling story of a thriving industry that wants to actively engage with young talent, helping to build a robust workforce for the future.

Alan Styles, sales director of Axminster says: "We at Axminster Tools & Machinery are always keen to support educational organisations and events. Exhibitions such as this are important in recognising and rewarding the efforts of students who are vital to the existence and continuation of our industry. As a company and Corporate Member, we are delighted to support the Young Furniture Makers and The Furniture Makers Company in the valuable work the organisation carries out."

The Best in Show Prize, sponsored by Corporate Member Blum, went to two young designers, Connor Holland and Jan Waterston, who each won an all expenses paid trip to Blum’s state of the art factory in Austria for having the best exhibits in the show – Connor for his YFM Bespoke award-winning Lilo Bench, and Jan for his Velo Chair, which gained second place in the YFM Bespoke Award.

Blum specialises in lift, hinge and pull-out systems for furniture, predominantly in kitchens. “We are always eager to support young talent in our industry,” said Mark Richardson, MD of Blum UK.

“Blum has a long history of encouraging young people to make the most of their opportunities, and we are thrilled to be able to support this event for Young Furniture Makers.”

A new competition was launched by leather specialist Andrew Muirhead & Son, with highly valuable work experience and £1000 in cash for the winner, plus two runners-up prizes of £500 each. MD Colin Wade says: “We are delighted to be launching this new competition to students, aiming to break through the traditional design boundaries of leather through the application of digital print (patent applied for). There is such a wealth of fresh young talent coming into the furnishing industry, so it will be really exciting to see the entries coming in.”

The Master, David Dewing, says: “One of our key objectives is to nurture young talented people through our Young Furniture Makers group, providing them with useful, relevant support and encouragement so that they remain within the industry, and become the leaders of tomorrow.
“It is heartening to see so many talented individuals presenting their work with such enthusiasm and commitment. It is our unique network of members and supporting companies that enables us to provide these invaluable opportunities.”