John Makepeace (b. 1939) is a British furniture designer. The Chartered Society of Designers (CSD) president, Peter Bosson, describes Makepeace “as one of England’s finest furniture designers and makers”.
He studied at Denstone College, Staffordshire, under Keith Cooper.
Makepeace had planned to go into the ministry, but a trip to Denmark made him decide to become a cabinet maker. Even though the British furniture industry was struggling at the time, he persisted and faced rejection after rejection until, at last, a Dorset workshop agreed to instruct him “for a fee,” with the caveat that he would never turn it into a career. (Hamilton, 2018)
He started designing furniture in 1961. In 1964, he set up a workshop in Farnborough Barn, Banbury, moving in 1976 to Parnham House in Dorset. He established the Parnham Trust and School for Craftsmen in Wood in 1977. In 1989, he trained students in product design and development and used wood thinning, a waste product. One of the early students was Viscount Linley, nephew of Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom.
Makepeace ceased running the trust in 2000 when it moved to the new campus at Hooke Park under a new director who handed the premises over to the Architectural Association, the international school of Architecture, for their practical modules. In 1988 he received an OBE for services to furniture design. On the bestowal of this prestigious honour, John Makepeace said: “It is unheard of for a furniture maker to receive an OBE, I’m, of course, thrilled, but it is a reflection of our work at Parnham and the team here.”
The Victoria and Albert Museum in London, the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge, the Museum fur Kunstandwerk in Frankfurt, and the Arts Institute in Chicago are just a few collections that house John Makepeace’s famous pieces. He now takes on exclusive projects every year while working for commission. (Industry Celebrates John Makepeace, Designer and Furniture Maker, 2017)
“That variety makes wood a wonderful medium for individual craftsmanship. Long established skills enable us to utilise its special properties, and its potential is evolving as we research new possibilities.”
In 2004, the American Furniture Society gave John a Lifetime Achievement Award. In 2010, the Furniture Makers Company gave him the same award. He is an honorary fellow of the Arts University Bournemouth (2009) and Hereford College of Arts (2013). He was awarded the Prince Philip Designers Prize in 2016. In 2017, in celebration of the forty years since the launch of Parnham College, ‘Beyond Parnham’ was published. This book tells the story of the college and Hooke Park, and 100 alumni reflect on their careers.
He has been leading initiatives with the V&A to promote riskier design since 2000. In the long run, he intends to sponsor and endow a national educational programme for aspiring designers.
Byars, M., & Riley, T. (2004). The design encyclopedia. Laurence King Publishing. https://amzn.to/3ElmSlL
Wikipedia contributors. (2021, August 11). John Makepeace. In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 21:53, January 17, 2022, from https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=John_Makepeace&oldid=1038337634
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