Friday, 19 June 2009
John Makepeace chair, 1981
This is one of a set of dining chairs from the workshops of John Makepeace (1939-), a furniture designer and educator of international standing who has described his own career as an adventure in wood. For 25 years from 1976, Makepeace lived and worked at Parnham House, a 15th century Grade 1 listed country house on the edge of Beaminster in Dorset. Here he combined his own business with running the School for Craftsmen in Wood, thereby passing on his ideas and philosophy to a new generation of makers, and the Parnham Trust which had wider aims of tying modern craftsmanship into the revitalisation of indigenous woodland.
In 1983, with the sustainability of English woodland becoming an issue of increasing concern, the Trust purchased the 350 acre Hooke Park Wood a few miles away to become a centre for research and teaching. This led on in 1989 to the Hooke Park School for Advanced Manufacturing in Wood with the purpose of generating a network of manufacturing businesses utilising sustainable indigenous timber, particularly thinnings, in the production of quality products and buildings. Courses took a holistic approach all the way from forest management through design and manufacture to marketing and business. The project attracted considerable support and funding in the early years but then ran into difficulties in the 1990s relating to its own sustainability and management. The site has since been transferred to the Architectural Association which is developing a long term strategy for its research and academic activity.
John Makepeace now lives in Beaminster itself and continues to practice fine furniture craftsmanship in wood (www.johnmakepeacefurniture.com).