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BIFMO online course every Wednesday throughout November 2023

Published by on 20 October 2023
Designing and Making Furniture: examining the creative process from 1600 to 1950


Copyright (Attribution/Credit)
Metropolitan Museum of Art
Thomas Chippendale’s drawing of the bed made for the 5th Earl of Dumfries. ©Rogers Fund, 1920, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

1 November: 5pm-7.30pm (GMT) and 1pm-3.30pm (EDT) 8, 15, 22 and 29 November: 5pm-7.30pm (GMT) and 12 noon-2.30pm (EST)

Please note that for the first week, the start time for US ticketholders on the East Coast will be four hours behind the UK. Thereafter, the time difference will be five hours.

Join us online for a couple of hours every Wednesday throughout November, when curators and historians will consider the development of styles in Britain, from the seventeenth to the mid-twentieth century, by examining the creative process involved in making furniture. Speakers will look at how designs were devised and the impact of collaboration between different disciplines on the way concepts and ideas were realised and translated into objects. Guided by specialist speakers, the course will look at a wide range of examples of design and craftsmanship from almost 500 years of furniture making in Britain; from the influence of print designs on makers in the early seventeenth century to the mass-produced furniture of Charles and Ray Eames in the twentieth. Here’s an overview of the course programme:


Session One – 1st November

Early print sources and their influence on furniture makers
Speakers: Nick Humphrey, Catherine Doucette, Dr Amy Lim


Session Two – 8th November

Furniture makers interpreting design in the 18th century
Speakers: Katherine Hardwick, Annabelle Westman, Dr Megan Aldrich


Session Three – 15th November

Furniture makers, Designers and Architects in 18th century Britain
Speakers: Dr John Cross, Professor Jeremy Howard, Dr Kerry Bristol


Session Four – 22nd November

Stretching the imagination: furniture making in the 19th century
Speakers: Ellinor Gray, Dr Diana Davis, Clarissa Ward


Session 5 – 29th November

Innovation and modernity: the role of the designer in the 20th century
Speakers: William Lorimer, Matthew Winterbottom, Professor Pat Kirkham


Tickets may be bought for individual sessions or for the entire course, but you will benefit from a discount if all five sessions are bought together. Don’t worry if you cannot attend the sessions live because they will be recorded and links to the recording will be sent to ticketholders. 

For further information and to purchase tickets please click here to travel straight to the Eventbrite page. FHS members and ECD members will receive a discount on all tickets. If you have any questions, please contact Ann Davies at


Images from left to right:
We are grateful to the Foyle Foundation for their support.

About the authors

Dr Megan Aldrich

Megan is Honorary Editorial Secretary for the Furniture History Society and edits its journal, Furniture History.  Formerly Academic Director of Sotheby’s Institute of Art in London, she has published widely, is a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries, and is a tutor in the Oxford University Department for Continuing Education.

Dr Kerry Bristol

Kerry is a senior lecturer in the School of Fine Art, History of Art and Cultural Studies, where she has taught architectural history since 1999. Her research interests include the Grand Tour and the development of neo-classicism, patronage and the rise of the architectural profession, women as patrons and consumers in the long eighteenth century, and country house culture in Britain and Ireland between the Elizabethan era and the present day. She is currently researching a book on everyday life at eighteenth-century Nostell, where she is honorary historical advisor to the National Trust.

Dr John Cross

John is a maker, conservator and historian of furniture.  He studied the making and conserving of furniture at the London College of Furniture and the theory and design history at the Royal College of Art

Dr Diana Davis

Diana  specialises in the nineteenth-and early twentieth-century art market in Britain and the role of the dealer. Her book, The Tastemakers: British Dealers and the Anglo-Gallic Interior, 1785-1865 was published by the Getty Research Institute in 2020. In 2022 she was awarded a Getty Rothschild fellowship to study dealers in decorative art from the 1870s until 1930.  Formerly on the Council of the French Porcelain Society, she co-edited three volumes of their peer-reviewed journal.  Her publications include: ‘The Bankruptcy of John Penning, Cabinet-Maker and Upholsterer’, Furniture History LVI (2020); ‘A rite of social passage: Gunnersbury Park, 1835-1925, a Rothschild family villa’, Modern Jewish Studies 18, no. 4 (2019); ‘A Triumph of Anglo-Gallic Taste: Two Porcelain-Mounted China Cabinets Made by Edward Holmes Baldock’, Furniture History Society Newsletter 205 (February 2017); and ‘Le Goût des Anglais pour le Mobilier Français: Collectors, Dealers and the Market’, in Collecting: Actors, Places and Values (Association GRHAM, 2021).

Catherine Doucette

Catherine Doucette is a PhD student in art and architectural history at the University of Virginia. She studies the material culture and decorative arts of the early modern Caribbean and her research centers around questions of empire, materiality, slavery, and resistance across the early modern Caribbean and British empire. Before starting her PhD, Catherine earned her Master’s degree in Art History from The Courtauld Institute of Art where she studied the art history of the early modern Atlantic world.

Ellinor Gray

Ellinor holds an MA in Decorative Arts and Historic Interiors from the University of Buckingham where she developed her interest in nineteenth century furniture. Ellie continued her research in this field whilst working at the Royal Collection Trust where she studied the commissions undertaken by the company Holland and Sons. Ellie has previously worked for the National Trust and has been working on the Houses of Parliament Restoration and Renewal Programme since 2020. She is an alumna of the Attingham Summer School ’23

Katherine Hardwick

Katherine is Collections Coordinator at Holkham Hall, Norfolk, a role she has held for five years.  She read her undergraduate degree at Durham University, and her masters at Cambridge University, submitting her thesis on the use of Holkham as a house for entertainment.  She is interested in all aspects of country house architecture, interiors, and collecting, and has published on aspects of Coke family collecting. She has a paper forthcoming in the Furniture History Society Journal exploring Thomas Coke’s long furniture commission for Holkham, and his widespread use of local craftsmen.  She formerly acted as Early Career Events Coordinator for the FHS and is alumni of the Attingham Trust.

Professor Jeremy Howard

Jeremy is Professor of History of Art at the University of Buckingham where he has taught, on-and-off, since 1995.  In 2000 he launched an MA in French and British Decorative Arts and Historic Interiors of the long eighteenth century in collaboration with the Wallace Collection, which has now been going for over twenty years. A scholar of eighteenth-century British decorative arts and interiors, he has also lectured and published widely on aspects of the history of collecting, in particular the Grand Tour and the Anglo-American art market and collecting in the Gilded Age. Alongside his university teaching, he also works part-time for London’s oldest commercial art gallery, Colnaghi as an Old Master paintings specialist and as their Head of Research, Archives and Academic Projects.      

Nick Humphrey

Nick is Curator of Furniture and Woodwork 1300-1700 at the Victoria and Albert Museum. He has published widely in relation to his contributions to the V&A’s galleries covering Britain 1500-1900 (2001) for which he was the Tudor and Stuart curatorial lead, Medieval and Renaissance (2009), Europe 1600-1815 (2015) and the Dr Susan Weber Gallery of Furniture (2012), of which he was co-curator. He serves as Bursary Secretary for the Regional Furniture Society.

Professor Pat Kirkham

Pat is Professor of Design History and a member of the Modern Interiors Research Centre at Kingston University and Professor Emerita at Bard Graduate Center, New York. She has written widely on design (including furniture and interiors), gender and film.

Dr Amy Lim

Amy is curator of the Faringdon Collection at Buscot Park, Oxfordshire, and a freelance curator, researcher and lecturer. In 2022, she completed an AHRC Collaborative Doctoral Partnership at the University of Oxford and Tate with a thesis entitled ‘Art and Aristocracy in late Stuart England’. Her research focuses on the history of patronage and collecting across the fine and decorative arts in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, especially under William III and Mary II, and she has published articles and essays on these and other topics. Amy is a tutor at the Oxford University Department for Continuing Education, a lecturer for the Arts Society, and is currently researching nineteenth-century women artists for a forthcoming exhibition at Tate Britain.

William Lorimer

William is a grandson of the renowned architect and designer Sir Robert Lorimer.  After successfully reading for a BA in Modern History at Oxford and a PGCE at Cambridge, William worked at the Christie’s front counter for a short time before moving onto Christie’s furniture department in 1982.  This proved to be the perfect preparation for a career in the Christie’s Valuations Department which spanned over thirty years. William is currently a consultant for Christie’s. 

Clarissa Ward

Clarissa has been associated with the Furniture History Society since 1996, acting as Events Secretary, then Grants Secretary and finally serving as Honorary Secretary of the Society 2014-2016.  From the late 1990s until today she has also worked as a volunteer research assistant for Sarah Medlam and now Max Donnelly in the Department of Performance Furniture Textiles and Fashion at the Victoria and Albert Museum. For Max Donnelly she conducts research on proposed acquisitions and his publications including C. F. A. Voysey; Arts & Crafts Designer (2016) and Daniel Cottier; Designer, Decorator, Dealer (2021). Over the last five years she has been involved with BIFMO and currently acts as its nineteenth-century editor. Her particular interest is British furniture made 1860-1914. She contributes regularly to the FHS Newsletter, is a member of the Decorative Arts Society and a friend of the Victoria and Albert Museum. 

Annabel Westman

Annabel is Director Emerita of The Attingham Trust and a textile historian and consultant. For over 40 years she has specialised in researching textile furnishings in wide variety of historic houses, museums and royal palaces and been instrumental in their replacement. Pertinent to this talk, she has been involved in the research and specifications for the restoration of a number of historic beds, including those to be discussed, based on examination of the surviving structure, archival documentation and other contemporary sources.  She has published extensively including her book, Fringe, Frog and Tassel: The Art of the Trimmings-Maker in Interior Decoration (NT and PWP, 2019).

Matthew Winterbottom

Matthew was appointed Curator of nineteenth-century decorative arts in the Department of Western Art at the Ashmolean Museum in March 2014. This new post was created to develop a collection of decorative arts in order to complement the Ashmolean’s superb collection of nineteenth-century paintings, works on paper and sculpture. Matthew led the redevelopment and redisplay of the Museum’s nineteenth-century art galleries that opened in May 2016. These galleries show for the first-time decorative arts together with paintings and sculpture. Matthew started his career in the Victoria and Albert Museum in the metalwork then furniture and woodwork departments. He then spent seven years as a curator of decorative arts at the Royal Collection before moving to the Holburne Museum in Bath. There he led the redevelopment of the decorative art galleries as part of the Museum’s extension and major refurbishment. In 2017, Matthew was appointed Curator of Decorative Arts and Sculpture and is responsible for the Department of Western Art’s extensive collections spanning the fifteenth to twenty-first centuries.