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Good furniture design is a meld of stylish aesthetics, safe functionality and practical comfort. A furniture designer visualizes and sketches a furniture concept, researches its market viability and oversees its production. To become a furniture designer, it is necessary to be creative, articulate, self-disciplined and in touch with current design trends. Furniture designers must be proficient in sketching and 3D modeling, and must have a good grasp of furniture making techniques and furniture production technology. Business, marketing and project management skills will also prove useful in this profession.
A solid educational background is essential to become a furniture designer. It broadens the horizon, and a bachelor's or master's degree can give you a boost up the career ladder. There are many design arts or industrial design colleges offering specializations in furniture-making, furniture design and furniture technology, and the courses may cover both the theoretical and practical aspects of furniture design and construction. Students can expect to learn about color theory, design theory, furniture history, furniture materials and furniture making techniques, upholstery materials and techniques, computer-aided design (CAD), and much more. It is a good idea to augment your education with courses in business, finance and communication.
Alongside training in furniture design, it will help to get some work or internship experience with an established cabinetmaker, furniture maker or furniture manufacturer. This will give you a better sense of production methods, day-to-day business operations and marketing strategies. You will also see firsthand how market requirements influence design trends and vice versa.
It will also help you to become a furniture designer if you compile an excellent portfolio of concept and final sketches, 3D modeling work and photographs of scaled-down furniture models. Most furniture designers have their own websites, which makes it convenient for prospective clients and employers to view their work and contact them for employment opportunities. Having an online presence also makes it easier for the designers to work with clients from almost any geographical location.
Furniture designers may be self-employed and work under contract for various clients, or may work for another designer, a commercial or industrial design firm, a manufacturing company or a design consultancy. Self-employment is the main goal for many people who decide to become a furniture designer, but this can take some time as the competition in the field is fierce. In this profession, the work hours can be long and usually need to be adjusted to suit the client, and some amount of travel may be necessary. Earning power usually depends on skill, experience, marketing knowledge and location.