Learning

The Gordon Russell Design Museum is committed to providing opportunities for learning, and we offer bespoke programmes for primary, secondary, further and higher education.

Our programmes are designed to deliver insights into craft and design in new and exciting ways for a range of age groups, and we are able to tailor the experience to suit your needs. Many of our sessions are led by former Gordon Russell Craftsmen, providing unique first-hand insights into the collection and the broader story of twentieth century furniture design.

For more information or to book a visit please email info@gordonrusselldesignmuseum.org

Here, Peter Sefton of Peter Sefton Furniture School describes the importance of a visit to the museum to the school’s teaching:

Our annual visit to the former Gordon Russell drawing office is an essential part of our student’s furniture design awareness and it is truly inspirational to see how the Gordon Russell team developed from the early Arts and Crafts design ethos, through to the internationally renowned designer makers of high-end domestic and office furniture.

Hand skills of local artisan craftsman including blacksmiths, glass and leather workers were incorporated into the style that shaped the nation from the ashes of World War I right through to the 1980s. The honing of new production techniques whilst keeping design and hand skills alive, was only matched by the research and development of materials that are now so fundamental to our industry.

As the design team grew in style and stature, the workshops entered new business markets including the development of the radiogram, utility furniture, domestic furniture and later contract furniture destined for the very best businesses and chairman’s boardrooms worldwide. With the growth of the Broadway design team, workshops around the UK and as far afield as Japan were borne, making Gordon Russell a leader in the development of 20th Century furniture design and domestic home styling.

The museum is truly hands-on with former Gordon Russell employees helping to guide visitors around and give them a true feeling of the warmth and design-led inspiration that was key to Gordon Russell’s success.

Student Design Awards

Summer time is awards season at the Museum, and we are delighted to have been able to support the work of a number of graduate designers this year through our Student Craft and Design Prizes at Leamington College and the Peter Sefton Furniture School.  It has also been our great pleasure to have introduced the new Ray Leigh Design Prize at Rycotewood Furniture Centre this year.

The Ray Leigh Design Prize, which is kindly sponsored by Imagination, has been established in recognition of the enormous contribution made by Ray Leigh MBE, former Managing Director and later Chairman of Gordon Russell Ltd and a founding Trustee of the Museum.  It will be awarded annually for the best design sketchbook amongst the graduates of the BA (Hons) Furniture Design and Make course at Rycotewood Furniture Centre.

The inaugural prize was awarded to Michael Buick for the sketchbook for his Pegg Furniture range, which he describes as a ‘campaigning furniture brand’.  The designs are based around pegged joints which allow simple and portable pieces of furniture to be rebuilt again and again.  Manufactured from sustainable timber, Pegg Furniture is designed to last a lifetime and then flow back into the ecosystem leaving no lasting environmental impact.

Following the award ceremony, Michael said ‘I’m delighted to receive the inaugural Ray Leigh Design Prize for my Pegg Furniture sketchbooks.  Over the past 16 months I’ve found the skills I’ve been taught at the amazing Rycotewood Furniture School coming together to help me develop the Pegg Furniture range – high quality, portable, low-waste, knock-down furniture aimed at people on the move.’

Pictured: pages from Michael’s winning sketchbook.

Student Craft and Design Prize: Leamington College

The Museum also sponsors two Student Craft and Design Prizes each year, which are awarded to students at Leamington College and the Peter Sefton Furniture School. This year’s award at Leamington College was presented to Tom Hodgetts for his Armadillo chair.  Martin Blakeman, former Master Craftsman at Gordon Russell Ltd and member of the judging panel said ‘This was striking because it was quite a new idea for a chair. It was technically difficult to draw in the first place and then the making involved quite serious jigs to form the sections. In all, it was beautifully made.’

Student Craft and Design Prize: Peter Sefton Furniture School

The Student Craft and Design Prize at the Peter Sefton Furniture School was awarded to Charles Colbourne for his Parabola Table, pictured above.  This piece was selected ‘for outstanding levels of design, innovation and craftsmanship’ said Sean Feeney. He described the table as ‘a parabolic curved structure created by successive straight lines intersecting at right angles creating a multi-faceted naturalistic form highlighted with the subtle use of pear wood and sycamore.  Visually stunning.’

The winning designs will go on display at the Museum in the autumn.