Cathy Stack, Chris Emmett & Nick Blishen

Handmade in E1

Image credit: Mona Tripp

Studio philosophy

Drawing on the rich history and tradition of the furniture and musical instrument industry in E1 and the recent revival and development of craft technologies in and around Brick lane, you will explore the history and context of furniture and instrument making and experience first-hand cutting-edge techniques and technologies associated with modern craft making and design.

‘Designed objects, symbolic as well as utilitarian, predate recorded language, they provide the earliest evidence of a cultural society and of symbolic reasoning, and, through the ages our species has developed the ability to design and make things from materials.’ Materials give substance to everything that we touch, use and see. Understanding and knowledge of materials and manufacturing are essential elements of the design and making process and to the practice of making furniture or musical instruments.

The relationship between design and knowledge of materials is fundamental to the production of meaningful and sound solutions. Therefore, developing an intimate knowledge of materials and building extensive experience with technique and process is at the core of this studio.

In the course of this studio, we will examine in-depth ways to work, shape and use materials effectively and research and practice techniques used to finish fine artefacts. We will explore working properties and navigate limitations by testing and evaluating.

Project brief

Bending the Rules; In this project, students will examine methods used traditionally and contemporarily, to produce curved components and design and make a piece incorporating a curved component.

Students will explore the constraints of working with solid materials and engineered wood. You will employ techniques to create elasticity in wood either by steam bending or laminating. You will use CNC techniques to produce formers by which to finally retain the required shapes.

Through the course of the studio, students will actively be engaged in producing samples and developing the skills to produce curves, make joints in curves, and find ways to assemble them into structures.

Great emphasis is placed on learning through doing and by research and working through. Students will test and review, and, rework ideas in notebooks, sketches and models.

Based on results students will draw, prototype and critique comprehensively making decisions about efficient use of materials before deciding on the final form of a finished piece. Proposals will be considered to ensure the best and most economic use of time and materials.

Outcomes will be evaluated by visual and tactile appeal and practical accomplishment to ensure position in the market place. Techniques and production will be evaluated to relevant industry standards.


Course Furniture (FdA)
Furniture BA (Hons)
Product Design BA (Hons)
Furniture Making (FdA)
Furniture Restoration (FdA)
Musical Instruments BA (Hons)
Restoration & Conservation BSc
Where CR400, 41 Commercial Road
When Tuesdays, Fridays
Tutor Cathy Stack
Nick Blishen
Chris Emmett

Studio images


Work in progress


Neb Abbott
Adam Abdulwahid
Luke Ayling
Mandie Beuzevul
Stuart Chambers
Dan Chapman
Joe Fitzgerald
Mark Gould
Laura Groom
Tim Grist
Luke Groombridge
Samuel Hirststiling
Charles Mugisha
Glenn Reading
Charles Richards
Aysha Shah
Alejandra Tellezp-Feffer
Dionne Thomson
Vinay Vekaria
Aleksander Zwolinski