Furniture Designers


Education and Training Requirements

High School

Art classes are fundamental to your training as a designer. Drawing and sketching classes will help you to get ideas down fast, and sculpture classes will encourage you to think about three-dimensional objects. A drafting course is also essential. Manual drafting will teach you how to make a technical drawing of a three-dimensional object, and, in turn, help you to visualize an object by looking at a two-dimensional drawing. Take shop courses to learn about woodworking and metal fabrication/welding, because wood and metal are among the most common materials used in contemporary furniture building.

Mathematics courses, including algebra, geometry, and trigonometry, are necessary. Computer science is beneficial, especially if you have an opportunity to learn CAD software.

Postsecondary Training

Colleges such as the Rhode Island School of Design and SCAD-The University for Creative Careers (formerly known as the Savannah College of Art and Design) have furniture design programs at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. Typical classes in a furniture design program include Introduction to Furniture; Design & Processes; Drawing Furniture 2D and 3D; CAD Modeling for Furniture Designers; Introduction to Materials and Process; Textiles Transforming Into Furniture; Metals for Furniture Design; Cabinets, Doors and Drawers; Design for Production; Advanced Furniture Studio; and Professional Practice and Portfolio.

Also, because it is common now for small furniture manufacturers to contract industrial design firms for their designs, consider schools that have industrial design programs that will allow you to concentrate on furniture design. Visit for a list of colleges and universities that offer degrees in industrial design (some of which offer concentrations or minors in furniture design). 

In a design program, early classes will focus on the fundamentals of two- and three-dimensional design. Studio classes give you hands-on experience with wood, power and hand tools, welding and metal fabrication, upholstery techniques, and molding plastics. Design history teaches you how craftspeople and artisans have designed furniture in the past and how past styles influence design today.

Most programs help you assemble a portfolio of work and include an internship segment, in which faculty will help you find a working position with a professional for one or more semesters.

Other Education or Training

Participating in continuing education (CE) classes is an excellent way to keep your skills up to date and become a more attractive job candidate. Many national and state associations provide CE opportunities. For example, The Furniture Society offers workshops and seminars at its annual symposium. Recent panel discussions and lectures included The Creative Process of Design and Collaboration in Marketing. The Industrial Designers Society of America also offers CE opportunities at its conferences and through online training sessions. Contact the society for more information.

Certification, Licensing, and Special Requirements

Certification or Licensing

There are no certification or licensing requirements for furniture designers.

Experience, Skills, and Personality Traits

Students should obtain as much experience in the field as possible by participating in summer internships, co-ops, and part-time jobs at furniture design firms.

Furniture designers need artistic ability and must be able to visualize and work in three dimensions. Aside from being creative, you should be able to work well both independently and as part of a team. It helps to be persistent and tough-minded to accept criticism of your designs. Good verbal communication skills will help you communicate with clients, builders, and production workers.