You don't need formal education to become a furniture designer, but many of these professionals have earned a bachelor's degree in a fine arts-related field. Independent furniture designers tend to build furniture as well, and work with clients to create unique pieces. Commercial furniture designers work for corporations who often mass-produce furniture.
Furniture designers can be artistic and practical. In creating fixtures for homes and businesses, these inventors produce an array of furnishings from the simple to the unique. Furniture designers may possess a fine art degree and learn to use hand tools and computer software to create their designs.
|Required Education||Bachelor's degree|
|Mean Annual Wage (2015)||$35,710 for craft artists*|
|Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)||2% craft and fine artists*|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Job Description of a Furniture Designer
Furniture designers create objects to furnish homes and businesses, and to act as usable art pieces. Both utilitarian and creative, the constructions of furniture designers range from a simple stool to a complex objet d'art. From drafting at the drawing board to using hand and power tools, from fitting and fixing various types of material to painting, staining and polishing pieces, furniture designers can work on the entire creation process. Regardless of their design, furniture designers tend to seek employment in one of two areas: as an independent designer and builder or as a commercial designer, working within or for a larger company or manufacturing firm.
Job Description of an Independent Furniture Designer
An independent furniture designer often is an equally independent furniture builder. Such designers may work on commission for prospective buyers and provide sketches or prototypes of designs. Alternatively, or additionally, independent furniture designers can create furnishings and fixtures, without first having a client, in the hopes of selling the finished products. Often, these designers must also allot time for self-promotion and obtaining patents, if necessary, for their designs and products.
Job Description of a Commercial Furniture Designer
Working within a larger corporate community, these designers are less likely to build their own designs. Rather, they create furnishing and fixture designs based on certain company specifications or necessities for mass production. However, even though they are not responsible for the construction of their designs, commercial furniture designers must remain aware of the construction process and the feasibility of their designs as products.
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Duties of a Furniture Designer
Furniture designers sketch and create prototypes and models for production. They may use computer-aided design (CAD) programs to develop and modify their models prior to creation. In order to sell their goods, these professionals must keep track of market trends, such as which designs are selling better in their market.
In addition to design duties, they must maintain a safe environment for workers and prospective customers. Often this entails not only ensuring safe use of tools and potentially harmful chemicals, but also ensuring that their products are well constructed and sturdy enough for the purpose for which they were designed.
Requirements of a Furniture Designer
Although there are a number of schools that offer training courses and certificates in furniture design and creation, there are only a few that provide degrees in the field. Most of these degrees are fine arts degrees and may include coursework in technical drawing and sculpture. Students typically learn to use hand tools and create 2-D and 3-D designs. Most programs also include a design studio in which they work with materials ranging from wood to glass to create prototypes.
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
In 2015, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) revealed a mean annual wage of $35,710 for craft artists. Per the BLS, the employment growth for craft and fine artists will be slow, from 2014-2024, with only a 2% increase.
In summary, while job growth is expected to be slow for all craft and fine artists, there are many different environments in which a furniture designer can work. The work can be creative, practical, or both, and be undertaken on a self-employed basis or within a larger organization. Degree programs do exist that cover furniture design and building.