TALK: Furniture Maker John Makepeace ‘Beyond Parnham – An Enduring Legacy’
John Makepeace, one the country’s most influential makers talks about the evolving traditions in making.
John Makepeace’s career has been an adventure in wood. He first saw fine furniture being made when he was eleven, and then he visited the great cabinet makers in Copenhagen as a teenager. Design and craftsmanship came naturally to him.
Early professional recognition led to his work as a design consultant to the all India Handicraft Board, a founding member of the Crafts Council in the UK and a Trustee of the V&A, London. Early commissions from Templeton and Keble College, Oxford, Liberty’s and the Banque Générale du Luxembourg, were followed by major museums, corporate and private collections around the world.
Keenly aware of the need for an integrated education for furniture designers and makers going into business, he bought Parnham House, Dorset in 1976 to set up a college alongside, but separately from, his own furniture studios. Parnham College rapidly gained an international reputation; 2017 marks 40 years since the launch with the book Beyond Parnham, the story of an educational phenomenon as 100 Alumni reflect on their careers.
The clearance of forests to fuel the Industrial Revolution and the consequent dependence on imported timber prompted the purchase of Hooke Park, the 350 acre woodland nearby. The subsequent European programme of collaborative research explored the improved utilisation of indigenous timber and resulted in a series of award-winning buildings for the new campus. Following the move of the College to Hooke Park, it amalgamated with the Architectural Association, the international school of architecture.
John Makepeace was awarded an OBE in 1988 for services to furniture design, received Lifetime Achievement Awards from both the American Furniture Society (2004) and the Furniture Makers Company (2010). He is an Honorary Fellow of the Arts University Bournemouth (2009) and of Hereford College of Arts (2013). In November 2016 he won the Prince Philip Designers Prize .
‘John Makepeace: Enriching the Language of Furniture’ was the subject of an Arts Council Touring Exhibition between September 2010 and November 2011.
John’s work was featured in two Victoria & Albert Museum exhibitions in 2012: ‘The Power of Making’ and ‘British Design 1948-2012 – Innovation in the Modern Age’.