Found my design thing! where's the gold mine?

I had tried almost every design careers in the last 5 years without truly knowing where my passion and interest were- architecture, product design, transportation, model making. I have now finally found what I really wanted to do and its in furniture design. Last 3 months I have been working at a hospitality furniture design studio and this experience sparked me as nothing before. I believe that this is what I want to do for the major part of my life and become one of the finest designers.

At some point I want to practice on my own but I want to get settled in the right place. I see that most major furniture companies are located in NC, not a bad choice to move? and what other parts of our country prevails in this industry? As a resident in Bay area, there are local companies to name, but for once I just want to be in those big time companies.


You’ll find that most of the companies in the NC are making pretty traditional furniture, the fact that you are on this site would suggest to me you are interested in more modern and contemporary furniture, if this is not the case head to NC and be happy.

Southwest Michigan is a hub of Contract Furniture

Although I do inspire from modern designs, I am leaning towards traditional furniture as I like the feeling of wood, leather, rattan with artistic feel. I guess they call it " hospitality" design. I believe there is still market for traditional designs, what do you think career wise?

So what is the salary range as furniture designer in NC area, is it quite different than ID er’s pay?

Not familiar with the “Hospitality Design” as furniture genre.
I’ve never really ventured into the NC furniture market, heard enough to know it wasn’t for me.
Most of the designers I know and work with in Contract are IDers by title and compensated as such.

Not familiar with the “Hospitality Design” as furniture genre.


Are you talking about the furniture found in hotel lobbies and guest rooms? Restaurants?

“Contract” equates to airport waiting areas, public areas, etc.

Post a few generic images, if you would.

I guess its a terminology that my work place designers use. Its for restaurants, hotels, resorts, home interior mostly for the market in the islands like carribean, cebu, etc. Here is a link to the companies website
More generally, they are traditional furniture designs with use of materials- mahogany, rattan, teak, and with artsy details inspired from century old designs.

Contract also = Office Furniture
Sounds like “Hospitality” may also be another subset of Contract.

I’ve heard it as Hospitality before. Contract Furniture is the right arena for it. It’s basically more commerical (i.e. larger scale production) home furniture. Stuff you find in restaurants, lobbies, waiting rooms, conference rooms, etc. Traditional design work, but again, larger scale production.

There’s plenty of good work in that field, and it’s nice to hear that you are liking what you do. That said, there are firms out there that design furniture for large manufacturers. However, the big office furniture guys (Knoll, Steelcase, Allsteel, Herman Miller, etc.) all make/design or both, this type of furniture.

Thanks! I do admire the above mentioned companies’ designs. I am also fond of Kohler’s furniture brands, HBF, Frontgate and in that line of business. Hopefully they are doing OK in this economy.

Hi Shyam.

I like your attitude and passion for furniture design. I am thinking about trying to get into it any way I can and have started to build up a collection of woodworking tools and would like to move make my own furniture in the next few years.

One thing though, as a woodworker I think more detail on how your designs are constructed would be great. People like to know that a piece of furniture has mortice and tenon/lap/dado/dovetail/etc… etc… joints and not dowelled or screwed together. This is my pet hate with “designer” furniture. A lot of it is constructed just like ikea crap but with a hefty price tag.

Even if it’s not wood, it would be good to see the joint details.

Maybe check out and other sites to see the terminology.

Thanks Aaron, I learned the same, consolidating your designs to have less screws and use of the material for joinery is better visually, functionally and many more. The website is good source, I e-subscribe to this website woodsmithtips for videos. They also have a show in PBS channel in US.