Why employ a furniture designer?

Furniture designers can provide the ideal solution to an awkward corner of a room where a shop-bought cabinet simply will not fit. A bespoke piece of furniture can also be a unique and personal present, or a freshly-created family heirloom for years to come.

It also provides an opportunity to get involved in the creative process. If you are lacking ideas of your own, a designer may show you a few set designs which would fit the bill.

Otherwise, it is an opportunity for your creativity to run wild and produce something truly unique!

When can I employ a furniture designer?

Furniture designers do not only create wooden cabinets or tables. Their vast array of skills are at your disposal. Designers of contemporary furniture – including inflatable, metal, and plastic creations – are becoming more widespread.

Have a look at Leeds-based Embark Design for inspiration. You can even employ companies to design bespoke garden furniture. Try to find a specialist who has a good reputation in the area which interests you.

From unique upholstered sofas to one-off carved book cases to beautiful fitted kitchen units, take time to track down an expert. Never say never. If you are convinced there is no piece of furniture to fit a difficult space in your home, a furniture designer can create a piece so that you can make full use of even the pokiest corner.

What is the process a furniture designer goes through?

Designing furniture can be a long process. If you need a unique piece of furniture for a specific space, it is a good idea to show the designer exactly where it will be located. To get the most accurate and satisfying results, put the designer in your shoes.

Browse the Internet and cut out pictures from magazines to demonstrate exactly what kind of design you have in mind. It may even be a good idea to put pen to paper yourself to make clear what it is you want. You can’t over-brief the designer – they will want all the advice they can get from you, so as to best meet your requirements.

If you are short of ideas, a furniture designer may offer free initial consultations. If this is in the office or studio, it might be worth taking a few photographs of the space the piece will be located. A floor plan may also help, especially if it is fitted units or cupboards you are commissioning.

When the furniture designer has discussed in detail what it is you are looking for, practicalities like materials and cost will be researched and your initial idea will be developed. It is important not to be persuaded to plump for something you are not entirely happy with, but remember that the designer is a professional.

If they says a particular type of wood will work better than the one you had in mind, it is probably better to compromise and trust the advice.

Make sure you agree on a price and receive a written quote before committing to using a particular designer. If the project takes longer than anticipated through no fault of your own, double check that the original quote still stands. Ask the designer on day one how long the process is likely to take.

You should be kept up to date with progress. If not, make sure you get in touch regularly to monitor progression. You should also make sure your product has a guarantee.

How will a furniture designer charge?

Prices can vary greatly depending on the piece of furniture you have in mind, and the style you would like. You should expect to pay more than you would for a piece you buy from a public shop – yours will be unique and made to your exact specifications.

It is the individual service as well as the bespoke piece of furniture that you are paying for. If you are not dealing with the designer face-to-face, you may also be charged a shipping or delivery fee. Make sure you ask what this will be before committing.

For a general idea, Surrey-based designers, Dimension Furniture, give a rough price guide for wooden pieces:

"A dining table may cost between £1200 and £2500, a chair from £400 to £600 and a bedside cabinet from £500 to £800".

Should the designer have qualifications I should look for?

There are a host of courses and qualifications in furniture design, interior design, cabinet making, metal work, and much more. Although it is important to check the credentials of your chosen designer, focusing on qualifications is not always the best way to do so.

Reputable professionals will have a portfolio of their previous work. They may also have references from past clients. The Internet is a good place to begin your research. If a designer is proud of past work, or has a host of glowing references, it makes sense for these to be displayed on their website.

It is definitely worth spending time shopping around – after all, you are likely to be spending a lot of money and thus want your furniture to be perfect.

Don't forget to ask...

  • What material is the designer used to working with? Most have a preference and you should hire someone who is an expert in what you want. For instance, if you want a glass cabinet made, it is better to hire someone who knows what they are doing with glass, rather than a wood worker who occasionally works with other materials.
  • Will the piece of furniture be covered by a guarantee? Do I have to pay extra for this?
  • Are there any additional shipping, service or installation costs on top of the price of the furniture?
  • How long is the design and creation of my furniture likely to take?

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