What classifies you as a furniture designer?

Some would say that you have to have a degree in some sort of design.
I don’t believe that to be true. Who is the guy that designs his own style of furniture, takes it to market and presents it with great response? Is he considered a craftsman who got lucky. Is he now a furniture designer? He built a line of furniture that appealed to a large audience, sells it on a national basis and is able to successfuly put food on the table. What are your thoughts?

Who would say that you have to have a certain type of degree? You are what you do. If you design (and sell) furniture, you are a furniture designer. If you write (and sell) books, you are a writer, whether or not you majored in English Lit.

It used to be, that if you had the skill and the experience, then you could call yourself whatever you wanted, including designer. It was like the wild west, there were no real rules, if you could prove yourself.
More and more, you see that era ending. The title of designer comes with the expectation of, at the very least, an eye for asthetics. But the issue of degree still comes up. Accredation takes some of the guess work out of things from an employers perspective. I see things continuing to get more standardized, as far as what you need to have to call yourself a designer.

If you did some drawings and built yourself a house, you wouldn’t call yourself an architect would you?
If you own a successful small business and do your own taxes, are you an accountant?
There is a certification that goes along with those professional titles, it’s a guarntee (or it should be) of the person’s skills and training.

You don’t need a specific degree to become a furniture designer or even a degree at all. I know several designers who do furniture and come from backgrounds in architecture, interior design, industrial design, and one with little more than a high school diploma.

By some tools, set up shop, and make some nice products. The work will speak for itself.

I feel the same way. I find it really tough being from Oklahoma city, where furniture design is not really recognized. The general public thinks Oklahoma is full of farmland or it’s just a state where country singers are born. I’ve met some quality craftsman in our state who have the ability and desire to design amazing furniture. I feel that I’m one of them. But in order for us to get noticed, you have to travel 1200 miles to the east or west.

I guess the only way to get recognized as a successful designer from a state not know for it, is to get off your ass, invest some money and take a chance.

Without name recognition or a degree, it doesn’t matter as long as you construct a product that appeals to a large percentage of consumers, I guess you can consider yourself a successful designer.

If people pay you to design houses, you’re an architect. Now with that particular field, there may be legal implications in calling yourself an “architect” without proper accreditation. There are no such restrictions with furniture design. Your point is well taken that lack of a degree may hinder your ability to find regular employment, but if you’re doing freelance work, or building your own stuff, nobody is going to ask to see your diploma before they give you their money. The work is what matters.

I agree.

The idea is that other professions have standards, but even though they don’t exist in the vague area of “Design” I could see it going that way in the future.

For good or bad.

Successful completion of a furniture design program is supposed to leave one with a refined aethetic that is supposed to appeal to the commercial/residential furniture market. A real working designer gets design direction from a furniture buyer or marketing person (who secretly wants to be a designer, but doesn’t have a clue) and then designs a piece of furniture which hopefully has mass appeal. A manufacturer then takes that design and manufacturers 100’s or thousands of that design. What happens next is another story. A coveted, stable, traditional furniture design job is not what you think.

A craftsman makes one of a kind, one-offs or very short runs. That furniture can be of traditional design or “studio” design. Studio design does not follow the traditional design “rules”, and therefore offers craftsmen the freedom of fantasy. That furniture can then be sold directly to a consumer or a shop/gallery. Either way the path to market is faster than through the typical designer/manufacturing process.

Right or wrong those are the true descriptions/definitions of those professions.

Again, right or wrong, typically, traditional design firms look for designers that are educated in historical and current design because they can say - “hey, design a group of French moderne, the early years” and a designer can hop to it.

It seems nowadays everyone wants to be a designer. Few seem to know what a real, working designer does.

I would only add that furniture design is a sub-category of product/industrial design.

My experience is that furniture design (for the most part) deals mostly with styling.

Industrial Designers who specialize in furniture also have a better understanding of ergonomics and materials/processes and approach furniture design as a problem solving process rather than a styling excercise.

There are of course exceptions, but not in high numbers.

my tax return says “furniture designer”

you can always take the “er” off and add consultant or specialist to the end, if you do not have the degree to back it. ei. furniture design specialist