Furniture Designer Job Description
Furniture designers are responsible for designing and creating different types of furniture from a basic concept or idea. They design using sketchpads, computer software, or a combination of both. Furniture designers often create original prototypes from their initial design and are usually involved in selecting fabrics, colors, and the woods, metals, or plastics used to create furniture pieces. These creatives can either produce designs for commercial furniture manufacturers or work with individuals to create custom pieces that often emphasize form over function. Furniture designers usually work traditional business hours.
Furniture Designer Duties and Responsibilities
Furniture designers have a set of common tasks that they are expected to complete as part of their job. Based on our review of job listings, these core tasks are:
Plan and Improve Designs
Furniture designers are tasked with researching and planning a variety of furniture design styles. They may have to discuss designs with clients who desire custom orders or meet with manufacturers. They may also have to improve upon furniture designs that are already being manufactured with the use of computer-aided design and hard prototypes.
The process of selecting suitable materials – namely woods, plastics, textiles, and metals – is also a common task assigned to furniture designers. Due to their input on the design process, they are the best person to choose the optimal materials for a particular design.
Consult with Team Members
Unless a furniture designer is self-employed and works on a small scale, they will have to consult with other craftsmen or production members, such as marketing staff or design engineers.
Furniture designers must consider all kinds of issues, such as industry trends, purchasing, manufacturing techniques, and organizing schedules based on availability of project resources.
Follow Design Trends
Attending industry-related trainings – such as webinars, seminars, and workshops – is essential to staying up to date, as is attending various furnishing shows and exhibitions.
Furniture Designer Skills and Qualifications
Furniture designers must be deadline-driven so that the pieces they design are created on schedule. Employers also seek applicants with these abilities:
- Drawing and design skills – although computer-aided design is available, these professionals need to have a knack for drawing and designing by hand
- Manual dexterity – manual dexterity is especially important for furniture designers who are also involved in building the product, especially when using hand tools or performing fine detail work
- Knowledge of market trends – because furniture designers are responsible for creating designs, a solid knowledge of market trends is necessary
- Interpersonal skills – furniture designers may have to consult with customers or design and production team members about various issues related to the design and manufacturing process
- Creativity – some furniture designers are called upon to create custom designs or revamp current designs, so creativity is key
Tools of the Trade
Furniture designers frequently use the following tools and equipment in their work:
- Measuring tapes
- Computer-aided drafting and design software
Furniture Designer Education and Training
Various schools offer training and certification in furniture design, and a few offer degrees in the field. Prospective students can choose from a bachelor’s or master’s degree in fine arts with a concentration in furniture design. Classes typically include instruction in drawing, designing 2D and 3D models, using color and graphics, and creating prototypes with materials.
Furniture Designer Salary and Outlook
PayScale lists the median annual salary for furniture designers as $50,085, with a median hourly wage of $24.08. A furniture designer in the 10th percentile earns approximately $35,866 a year, while the highest paid in the field make $81,573 a year.
To decide if becoming a furniture designer is the right move for you, research is key. To help, we’ve provided some of the best industry resources below:
International Furnishings and Design Association – the benefits of joining IFDA include access to a member marketing tool kit, a listing in the expert directory, members-only website content, membership in the IFDA educational foundation, access to the IFDA newsletter, a complimentary subscription to the magazine, and more
American Society of Furniture Designers – ASFD promotes the furniture designing profession. The society accomplishes its goal through a variety of networking, mentorship, and professional development opportunities for student and professional designers who work, or aspire to work, in the residential or contract furnishing industries
Furniture Design: An Introduction to Development, Materials and Manufacturing – written by Stuart Lawson, this comprehensive guide provides answers to designers’ questions about development, materials, and manufacturing, includes case studies, and provides helpful insight into the profession for students who are considering a career in this industry
Furniture Design – written by Jim Postell, this expanded and updated second edition offers information and illustrations related to the craft and practice of furniture design. The volume also includes 25 case studies of furniture design, including recent designs from the last 10 years
Guerilla Furniture Design: How to Build Lean, Modern Furniture with Salvaged Materials – author Will Holman presents 35 easy, cost-conscious, and environmentally friendly projects for people who are interested in learning how to build unique, stylish, and functional furniture and accessory pieces from salvaged materials
Mid-Century Modern Furniture: Shop Drawings & Techniques for Making 29 Projects – written by Michael Crow, this guide offers a historical perspective on the evolution of mid-century modern furniture styles with examples from famous designers. It also includes over 100 drawings and details for projects, practical advice, and instructions for two step-by-step projects
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