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Take A Seat with Tom Faulkner

Organised by the Director of Art & Design at Dulwich College on behalf of the SSLP Art Hub, students from SSLP schools had the opportunity to meet bespoke furniture designer Tom Faulkner, attend workshops and to enter an exclusive competition to design a chair.


Following our two-day sculpture workshop for SSLP pupils in 2017 we wanted to offer an exclusive opportunity for design students that would bring them together for multiple workshops and learning opportunities.

The designers, Tom Faulkner and Nicola Burt, were keen to work with students from a range of local schools and Dulwich Picture Gallery and Bell House provided independent venues for the launch and the Private View. 

By using independent venues for the key events, and schools taking turns to host the workshops each student got the experience of being a host and a guest and was able to enjoy the opportunity equally.


The Director of Art and Design worked closely with contacts at Dulwich Picture Gallery, Bell House, Tom Faulkner and Nicola Burt to establish a relationship and design this competition. At least one year's preparation was required from concept to the start of the programme.


Launched on 7th October 2019 Take A Seat was an exciting new competition exclusively for SSLP students in years 10 and 12.

The SSLP Creative Hub introduced bespoke furniture designer Tom Faulkner and interior designer Nicola Burt to eleven students from five SSLP schools. Over the course of the term the students gathered for four successive workshops, taking it in turns to act as host school to their fellow participants. The workshops, led by Nicola, focused on Design, Modelling and presentation.

The lucky students also embarked on visits to KLC School of Design, Tom’s showroom in Chelsea and his Swindon studios. In Tom’s workshop they (and their teachers) spent four hours learning how he makes furniture, from the design process to manufacture, finish, assembly and finally transportation. They said it was great to speak with the welders and finishers learning tricks and techniques that they use everyday to achieve the best quality outcome. The pupils also had a chance to operate a fly press and try MIG welding which was new to many, and enjoyed by everyone.

Throughout the process, students were able to submit their designs to Tom for feedback and constructive comments. The final designs for their own bespoke chairs were submitted to Tom on the 13th of December. All of the designs were very different so it was a difficult task for Tom to choose one chair to be made as a one-off piece.

Then on the 11th February 2020 at Bell House, Dulwich, the students gathered with their families and teachers for a private view of the designs and prototypes as well as exhibits from Tom’s furniture collection.

Set among the designs was a plinth and a chair, covered with a dark cloth waiting for the moment of revelation.

The audience was welcomed to Bell House by SSLP co-director, Catherine May before Tom gave a brief overview of the project.

He told the waiting audience that the chosen chair was from a young designer who had stayed true to their original inspiration of an art-deco style, building on their theme with each revision.

It was with a squeal of surprise and delight that Anne-Elizabeth, from St Saviour’s & St Olave’s School, received the news that beneath the cloth was her beautiful chair and a moment of wonder followed as she saw ‘Her Chair’ for the very first time.


Anne-Elizabeth said “My inspiration comes from the Ziggurat shape, often found in art deco architecture. The ziggurat (stepped pyramid) is reflected in the legs of my chair, embodying what the art deco movement stands for”

Pupil Involvement

Eleven students in years 10 and 12 representing five SSLP schools.


Take a Seat was a time limited competition from 7th October 2019 to 11th February 2020.

Over the course of the competition the students gathered for four successive workshops, taking it in turns to act as host school to their fellow participants. The workshops, led by Nicola, focused on Design, Modelling and presentation.