Ten furniture design projects by Northumbria University students

Dezeen School Shows: a wooden chair upholstered in a leather alternative made from seaweed is included in Dezeen’s latest school show by students at Northumbria University.

Also featured is a lounge chair designed for workplace breakout areas and an item of furniture made from discarded vape casings.


Institution: Northumbria University
Course: BA Hons Furniture and Product Design
Tutor: Rickard Whittingham

School statement:

“Furniture and Product Design BA (Hons) teaches a creative, analytical and skilful approach to the designing and making of products and furniture.

“Formerly known as ‘3D Design’, this course allows you to join a community of staff and students eager to explore the potential for beauty, usefulness and meaning in contemporary material culture.

“You will develop both the technical skills required of a designer and the critical thinking skills necessary to understand design’s role in the social, economic and environmental context of today.

“Our creative approach puts three-dimensional prototyping at the heart of the design process.

“You will be taught how to use the tools and techniques of workshops, computer labs and studio spaces to develop and evaluate designs in three dimensions.

“You will gain a sophisticated understanding of how to work with materials by sensitively incorporating their properties into your work and you will be challenged to think carefully about the valuable role your furniture and products should play in people’s lives.

“The furniture and product design course’s vision is to create the most able graduates – people who understand both how and why to make things, and are ready to make meaningful contributions to professional design practice.”


Table and bowls on dark backdropTable and bowls on dark backdrop

Shiver by Fred Dunbar

“This is a material-led project that aims to reimagine and challenge the conventional norms of material finishes. The project resulted in a chair and stool as well as a number of bronze bowls.

“Shiver won the Tom Faulkner Award for Best Furniture Design and a London Design Fair Emerging Talent Award at New Designers 2024.”

Student: Fred Dunbar


Hexagonal side table on decked outside areaHexagonal side table on decked outside area

Hexagrain by Liam Ferris

“Hexagrain aims to blend wood grain with geometric forms to showcase the beauty of both.

“By combining expressive wood grain with a geometric aesthetic, it creates objects that celebrate both the natural and the human-made.”

Student: Liam Ferris
Email: liamdavidferris[at]gmail.com


Photograph showing six rows photographs showing four views of each chairPhotograph showing six rows photographs showing four views of each chair

Chair Twenty by Joe Hill

“This project explores social interaction within public spaces. Chair Twenty is part of a range of furniture for coffee shops that aims to encourage people to interact with one another.

“I have investigated the ways in which furniture can influence conversation and how seating position and environments can encourage collaboration.”

Student: Joe Hill


Photograph showing hand opening drawer in deskPhotograph showing hand opening drawer in desk

Pivot by Keanu Lee

“This project aims to minimise the negative impact of clutter on our daily lives. Clutter tends to gather when people accumulate non-essential belongings and it can have negative effects on our mental and physical health.

“The primary objective of Pivot is to enhance user productivity by reducing visual clutter on a domestic desk.”

Student: Keanu Lee


Photograph of a wooden bench on a white backdropPhotograph of a wooden bench on a white backdrop

Hankei—Radius by Phoebe Li

“This project involved the creation of a slatted bench inspired by the values and principles of Japanese author Naoto Fukasawa’s work, alongside Li’s personal expression of cosy ideologies from hygge.

“Crafted from oak, its gentle curves aim for a harmonious balance of simplicity and elegance. This bench encourages you to unwind and embrace the comforting ambience of hygge.”

Student: Phoebe Li


Photograph of furniture item made from vape casingsPhotograph of furniture item made from vape casings

Waste Recontextualised by Ben Watson

“This project investigates the re-contextualisation of waste through the repurposing of discarded disposable vapes.

“The goal was to give the pieces a refinement and quality, despite the throwaway nature of the ‘waste’ materials.”

Student: Ben Watson


Photograph showing desk lamp on deskPhotograph showing desk lamp on desk

Retrospective Design by Owen Wright

“Retrospective design is an exploration into how past design styles can inform contemporary work.

“Minimal is a task light inspired by Modernist principles, with a focus on using a minimal number of materials to perform its function. Balance is a Postmodernism-inspired desk light.”

Student: Owen Wright


Photograph of a wooden stoolPhotograph of a wooden stool

Korean Design Modern Stool by Yi Chung-Hyun

“Chung-Hyun designed a sculptural stool made from walnut and plywood, which is inspired by the forms of traditional Korean ‘Hanok’ architecture.

“The swooping form of the top is designed to lend presence to the piece and also provides a comfortable seat.”

Student: Yi Chung-Hyun


Person adjusting a plywood chair with green legsPerson adjusting a plywood chair with green legs

Lounge 6011 by Matthew A Gemmell

“Lounge 6011 was created using both nature and industrialism as inspirations.

“Made using steel tubing and veneered plywood, the 6011 was designed to provide a point of relaxation in office spaces.”

Student: Matthew A Gemmell


Wooden chair on sand dune draped in seaweedWooden chair on sand dune draped in seaweed

Frond by Henry Davison

“Frond is a material research-based project. The aim was to develop a method to turn seaweed – a widely available and sustainable algae – into a viable alternative to leather for the furniture industry.

“The final process uses only biodegradable and sustainable materials to create a flexible yet durable leather-like material.”

Student: Henry Davison

Partnership content

This school show is a partnership between Dezeen and Northumbria University. Find out more about Dezeen partnership content here.


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