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Three Dimensional Design

Manchester School of Art


Stuart Westwell

Graduated 2004

Personal Design Assistant to Terence Conran

Most of my work involves developing Terence's ideas through to working prototypes. This involves taking a sketch and discussing details, materials and producing drawings. I then take these drawings to my workshop space at Benchmark furniture where I make scale the models and prototypes. These drawings and models are then used to re-evaluate the design and make any amendments before the design is put forward to a manufacturer to be made in either mass production or batches in Benchmark workshops.

Recently we have been working on the Boundary Project turning a Victorian warehouse into three restaurants and a boutique hotel with seventeen individually designed bedrooms. As part of this job I've been specifying furniture & fabrics, and designing site specific furniture.

As well as developing Terence's designs, I have a side table design of my own that is part of the Benchmark furniture collection.

I chose the course after visiting the degree show and seeing some unusual pieces of furniture and beautifully made ceramics. As a hands-on designer I found the practical elements of the course very enjoyable and influential on my working methods, and the experience of studying under the tuition of practicing designers and makers gave the course a grounding that instilled a pragmatic approach to design that I use every day.

Whilst at university my woodworking, presentation and interpersonal skills all developed. As a shy person by nature going on exchange to Norway for eight weeks in the second year has had a lasting effect on how I communicate with people, and developed my love of Scandinavian design.

My advice for students would be: enter as many competitions and exhibitions as you can, they give you invaluable experience in presenting your work and speaking to "real people" about what you have designed, made and are developing; try and get as much work experience as possible to gain an understanding of how different people approach the design process; and don't start drinking before 12.00!

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