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1st - 29th Nov / 2023
BIFMO-FHS Online Autumn Course 2023

Designing and Making Furniture: Examining the Creative Process from 1600 to 1950

From left to right:

Detail of a design for a state bed by John Linnell (c.1765), © V&A, London.  Detail of an interior of a Library, from Nouveaux Liure da Partements, part of Oeuvres du Sr. D. Marot, etching (published 1703 or 1712), © The Met, NY.  Detail of a botany diagram to illustrate design lectures by Christopher Dresser, 1854-6, © V&A, London.  Detail of a design for a commode by Robert Adam, c. 1777, © V&A, London

BIFMO-FHS is offering a course on Zoom every Wednesday throughout November when each week curators and historians will consider the development of furniture styles in Britain from the seventeenth to the mid twentieth century by examining how these designs were devised and then translated into finished pieces. Each week the course will move chronologically through almost 500 years of furniture history with three expert speakers delivering presentations that will not only look at specific designers and makers and their working relationships but will also touch up many related themes, including insights into the practices of the furniture trade.

These presentations will look at a wide variety of examples of furniture, including a tortoiseshell cabinet from Jamaica, the mass-produced furniture of Charles and Ray Eames and the eighteenth-century designs of Adam and Kent. The furniture considered in this course vary in their appearance and come from very different periods. But they will have been inspired by a range of sources and it is this creative process that is examined by this online course.

Each week the session will start at 5pm (GMT) and conclude at 7.30pm (GMT). Please note that for the first week, our US friends on the East Coast will only be 4 hours behind the UK.  Weeks 2-5 will revert to the usual 5 hour difference. Most of the presentations will be 30 minutes in length followed by a short Q&A session.

It is possible to book individual weeks but you will benefit from a discount if you book all 5 sessions together. FHS members benefit from a further discount on all tickets.  To buy tickets, now available on Eventbrite, please click here.

Don't worry if you miss the live event: most of the presentations will be recorded and every ticketholder will receive a link to the recording.  


Week 1 - Wednesday, 1 November:  

Early Print Sources and their influence on furniture makers

  • Nick Humphrey - Furniture in Britain 1600-1650: Design and Designers
  • Catherine Doucette - Seventeenth-Century Jamaican Tortoiseshell Cabinets
  • Dr Amy Lim - Daniel Marot (1661-1752), principal designer to William III and Mary II

Week 2 - Wednesday, 8 November:  

Furniture makers Interpreting Design in the 18th century

  • Katherine Hardwick - Interpreting Kent's Designs - the Interiors of Holkham Hall 
  • Annabelle Westman - The upholsterers' challenge: Interpreting three 18th century bed designs
  • Dr Megan Aldrich - 'False and Foolish Taste': the ribbon-back chair designs of Thomas Chippendale

Week 3 - Wednesday, 15 November:  

Furniture makers, Designers and Architects in 18th century Britain

  • Dr John Cross - Furniture Making and Design (1740-60)
  • Professor Jeremy Howard - The Earl, the Architect and the Craftsmen - The Furnishing of Croome Court for the 6th Earl of Coventry
  • Dr Kerry Bristol - Robert Adam and English furniture design 1758-1792

Week 4 - Wednesday, 22 November:  

Stretching the imagination: furniture making in the 19th century

  • Ellinor Gray - Pugin and the Furniture Makers for the Houses of Parliament
  • Dr Diana Davis - Edward Holmes Baldock (1777-1845): A Marchand-Fabricant 
  • Clarissa Ward - Innovative Design in the Furniture, 1870-1900 

Week 5 - Wednesday, 29 November:  

Innovation and modernity: the role of the designer in the 20th century

  • William Lorimer - Lorimer furniture 'a sweet-smelling thing fit to last a few hundred years'
  • Matthew Winterbottom - Christopher Dresser
  • Professor Pat Kirkham - Industrially mass-produced furniture by Charles and Ray Eames and their collaboration with the Herman Miller furniture company c. 1947-1978

More detailed information about the course and the speakers is available on the Eventbrite page. 

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