Furniture designers develop and prepare furniture for manufacture. They are particularly concerned with those aspects of furniture that relate to human usage and behaviour, product appeal and fashion.

Furniture design can be considered to be a specialist area of industrial design (product design). However the specific ergonomic knowledge that a furniture designer must apply and the specialised construction methods and pre-manufactured components that undergo constant change in the industry make this a large area of specialisation.

Furniture design is also undertaken by interior designers and, traditionally, by architects. These designers may be seeking a unique style of furnishing for an interior or architectural project. Or they may be operating as a design consultant to a manufacturer, or as a manufacturing entrepreneur on their own behalf.

Furniture design has a rich history of styles and precedents and a close relationship with fashion which makes practise in this area distinctly different from many product design areas.

Furniture designers explore solutions to meet marketing, manufacturing and financial requirements and arrive at the optimum design of a furniture item. They consider both functional and aesthetic aspects and pay particular attention to ergonomics, those factors that relate to ease of use and human behaviour.

They prepare models and prototypes to demonstrate and test furniture. They prepare drawings and illustrations to assist in the decision making process and support marketing efforts.

They select components and materials, resolve assembly and manufacturing details and produce digital and documentary instructions for others involved in the manufacturing process. They organise and oversee tooling to prepare for production and develop and oversee subsequent adjustments and refinements to the furniture.

Furniture designers may work as part of a product development team. While other specialists such as mechanical engineers and upholsterers may work on mechanical mechanisms and fabric construction patterns the furniture designer may be working on the overall structure of the product and its appearance.

It is common for furniture designers to be employed within manufacturing companies. For manufacturers the development and maintenance of product lines is a core requirement rather than an occasional need. Some furniture designers, however, work for businesses that consult to manufacturing companies, especially those companies that don’t maintain internal research and development facilities.

Some furniture designers operate as designer/maker businesses producing limited ranges of their own designs or designing custom furniture for individual clients.

ANZSCO (2006) occupation code - no unique code. Furniture design is a specialised form of industrial design (product design) ANZSCO 232312.

What you’ll study

  • Design Theory & Practice
  • Communication Skills
  • Manufacturing Materials
  • Manufacturing Processes
  • Design History
  • Design Software Applications
  • Computer Aided Design & Manufacture
  • Presentation Techniques
  • Ergonomics
  • Project Management
  • Business Management

Where you’ll work

  • Manufacturing Companies
  • Design Consultancies
  • Designer/Maker Workshops
  • Self Employed

Other areas you’ll find work

  • Furniture Wholesalers
  • Furniture Retailers
  • Museums and Cultural Institutions