College graduate’s benchmark for design success

The Oxford Times: Tom Parfitt, who won a competition last year, with his benches now being installed at Queen's College, Oxford Tom Parfitt, who won a competition last year, with his benches now being installed at Queen's College, Oxford

FURNITURE designer Tom Parfitt relaxes on the bench he envisaged in the leafy grounds of a college, as he celebrates two successes.

Mr Parfitt, 26, who completed the BA (Hons) in Furniture Design and Make at the Rycotewood Furniture Centre, part of City of Oxford College, last summer, returned to the city to see his designs installed.

They were put in place at The Queen’s College, in its medieval Drawda garden. His designs – featuring aluminium frames and solid oak slats – were chosen by the college in a competition for furniture undergraduates last year.

MrParfitt has also been selected as one of five graduates to have his work sold and displayed by top-end retailer Heal’s. It runs an annual competition, Heal’s Discovers, to uncover British design talent.

He said: “The project with Queen’s gave me an early opportunity to respond to an open brief and pitch a design solution. I was delighted to be chosen and to work with the makers and now see the benches in place has been really satisfying.

“Hearing that I had also been successful in the Heal’s Discovers competition, I was overcome with excitement.

“It took a while to sink in and come to terms with the great opportunity ahead of me.”

His side tables – made from concrete block and inspired by Soviet era modernist architecture – will now be sold at Heal’s store and showcased at the London Design Festival in September.

Queen’s home bursar Dr Linda Irving-Bell said: ‘‘As an institution we’re always keen to work with local schools and colleges. We had a new auditorium and garden built and were looking for some great furniture, so it seemed fitting to approach the Rycotewood Furniture Centre.’’

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