In his letter (DW 17 March), Peter Miles detracts from the main purpose behind Ray Leigh’s initiative in setting up the National Furniture Forum – countering fragmentation in the industry.
In my experience, the furniture industry’s caution in involving those trained in design has more to do with the individual’s lack of intimate knowledge of relevant technology, its processes and their application to the market than a reluctance to pursue new ideas. This is a direct result of poor standards of teaching and the fact that there is insufficient contact with the industry.
He claims to run a furniture course at Bournemouth that is better than all the others. That brings the number of courses in the UK to more than 80, a staggering figure. If ever a measure of the fragmentation was needed, it is the diluted effort that is channelled into so many courses, the majority of which are second rate. Even if these were only producing ten graduates each year, there are clearly far too many people coming into the market each year for the jobs available.
As a regular employer of designers, it is my view that the standards are simply not high enough. This isn’t a criticism of the intellectual calibre of the students; there is a strong and valid suspicion in the industry that many of these courses exist to justify the existence of staff who have resorted to teaching when their own businesses have failed. In my view, the available courses should be halved.
Training and education is one of the issues that the National Furniture Forum desperately needs to address; its very existence offers the first chance of a co-ordinated overview and Ray Leigh should be congratulated for his initiative.
Luke Hughes & Company