This Septem­ber marks 40 years since the start of the first term at Parn­ham Col­lege. We sit down with founder John Make­peace OBE to dis­cuss his book ‘Be­yond Parn­ham’

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Parn­ham Col­lege has trained gen­er­a­tions of fur­ni­ture mak­ers, which means new book Be­yond Parn­ham reads like a who’s who of the Bri­tish – and in­deed, in­ter­na­tional – fur­ni­ture-mak­ing scene. Cu­rated by cel­e­brated fur­ni­ture maker John Make­peace, who founded Parn­ham Col­lege in 1977, the book tells the tale of the ed­u­ca­tional phe­nom­e­non that ig­nited the ca­reers of many. Fea­tur­ing con­tri­bu­tions from over 100 alumni, in­clud­ing David Lin­ley, Kon­stantin Gr­cic and Bench­mark’s Sean Sut­cliffe, it’s a vol­ume filled with re­flec­tions and work from ex-stu­dents, as well as a source of ref­er­ence for de­sign­ers work­ing to­day.

Pas­sion­ate about mak­ing fur­ni­ture from a young age (he started car­pen­try les­sons aged six), Make­peace was a founder of the Crafts Coun­cil in the 1970s, which aimed to sup­port crafts­peo­ple. He be­came in­creas­ingly aware of the in­ad­e­qua­cies in train­ing in these ar­eas: ‘It’s no good just be­ing very skilled at wood­work, or be­ing skilled in busi­ness; putting them to­gether is what gives you the en­tre­pre­neur­ial abil­ity,’ he ex­plains. Fol­low­ing his vi­sion to help young de­sign­ers, af­ter a bout of heavy fundrais­ing in 1976, Make­peace bought Parn­ham House, an 80-room Tu­dor manor buried within the Dorset coun­try­side. It be­came his home and work­shop, as well as a res­i­den­tial teach­ing fa­cil­ity.

To mark the 40th an­niver­sary of the col­lege, along­side pro­duc­ing the book, Make­peace also called a re­union, invit­ing his 200 or so alumni to gather at Lon­don’s De­sign Mu­seum. ‘It was such a joy­ous day,’ he re­calls. ‘And I could re­mem­ber ev­ery­body’s name!’ When asked if he felt proud to see a room full of pro­tégés, af­ter a long pause, he replies: ‘I tend to think of it more from the other side – what a mar­vel­lous lot they are.’ Be­yond Parn­ham, £30 ( be­yond­parn­

Be­yond Parn­ham tells the tale of the ed­u­ca­tional phe­nom­e­non that ig­nited hun­dreds of ca­reers

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