Furniture Designer  What They Do

Just the Facts

Insider Info

dotFurniture designers design for homes, offices and institutions. Designers have to consider design trends, competitors' products, production costs and their company's market. They must also be strongly involved with the fashion industry and aware of current styles.

Detailed drawings of fixtures, forms and the tools used in the production are also the responsibility of the designer. They may also design custom pieces or styles according to a specific period or country.

dotDesigners must decide whether to create furniture for retail or focus on art furniture. The former category usually generates higher incomes, and it offers wider employment options. Art furniture sells in galleries and is limited to a smaller clientele.

dotFurniture designer Dale Broholm says telecommuting is common with designers affiliated with large-volume manufacturers. They work from their homes and telecommute through telephone lines, the Internet and video conferencing.

In the past, freelance designers used to work with a number of clients. Now, with higher competition and greater consolidations, there are opportunities for designers to fill niche markets, and to cater to specific small markets. People are willing to pay higher prices for quality design and good furniture -- they're willing to wait until they can afford a better quality product.

dotDesigner Steve Hodges says opening a furniture design business today requires more capital than in the past.

"When I opened my business, all I needed was an old drawer to use as a drafting table, and I could go to the public library to use their photocopier. Now, you need a fax machine, a word processor or computer, a photocopier -- there's a much bigger capital outlay required.

"It's become a global market. I rely on couriers and e-mail. Shipping charges are a component of my budget."

At a Glance

Create furniture

  • People are willing to pay high prices for quality designs
  • You can create furniture for retail or focus on art furniture
  • Take design courses, degrees in fine arts or basic woodworking