Furniture Design

Karen Henry 2014 Article Form Function Furniture Design

What does a furniture designer do?

A furniture designer works in three ways:

  • Making one-off bespoke items to order for clients
  • Designing items for making in small batches
  • Designing for mass production


Creating 3D plans in Autocad is important for designing items for mass production as other furniture makers will be required to read and understand the design.

Functional vs Fashionable

You could design an item as a fashion statement, to be less functional, and more artistic; or you could design an item to be highly functional, yet retain some artist elements in the design - a good example of this is the Chair No 14 by Thonet. You could design something that folds away or something that is always in the way - see here for ideas! Remember that there are always different people in the world with many different tastes in furniture.


Here are some questions to ask yourself when designing a furniture item:

  • Are you designing for the home or office? Maybe a hotel or palace?
  • What materials will you use to manufacture the furniture product? How available are these materials?
  • What safety laws do you need to be aware of? Fire retardant is important.
  • How will you build the prototype? 3D software or paper?
  • Which furniture design techniques will you use to make your furniture piece? Joints, glue, nails?
  • How much will your item cost in the shops or to the buyer?
  • How much profit do you want to make from selling one piece and what material fits into your budget?
  • How will you transport your items to your customers?
  • What will your website look like?
  • What sorts of marketing strategies will you use?

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