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Design a Church Chair: Finalists and awards event

The Design a Church Chair! judging panel received well over 100 entries including several applications from overseas and submissions from leading designers including Sir Terence Conran and Luke Hughes.

Entry to the first stage of the church chair design competition, launched in January, has now closed. The competition had three categories: category 1 was open to students and recent graduates, category 2 was for professionals and category 3 was for a chair or bench already in production.

The judging panel has met to select a shortlist of five finalists to categories 1 and 2 and two in category 3. The panel was chaired by the Rt Revd and Rt Hon Richard Chartres, Bishop of London, and included furniture designer and maker, John Makepeace, architectural enthusiast and illustrator, Matthew Rice, chair of the Church Buildings Council, Anne Sloman, and vicar of St John's, Revd Stephen Mason.

Designs have been judged on their sympathy with historic church interiors, affordability, functionality, comfort and aesthetic merit. It is hoped that some of these designs will be taken into manufacture.

The Bishop of London will announce the overall winners of the Design a Church Chair! competition on 14 June 2012 at an event to be accompanied by an exhibition of models and prototypes at St John's Church, Hyde Park. John Makepeace will give a short talk.

The exhibition will be open to preview between 2pm and 6pm on 13 June - all are welcome.

The Church of England is responsible for 16,000 parish churches, 12,500 of which are listed. As for all developments in church buildings we aspire to the highest quality design for new chairs.

Bishop Richard said: "It has been very exciting to see such a range of entries submitted to the competition from both young and established designers. It was evident that applicants have given a great deal of thought to the spaces for which they were designing and the competition has proved to be a wonderful way of engaging designers with the church. We hope that many will continue to explore the possibilities that churches can offer them as places which can nurture modern design. "

John Makepeace OBE, furniture designer and maker, said: "The competition has attracted some excellent designs that will complement church buildings through their simplicity of form, their sound construction and their enduring quality."

Anne Sloman OBE, Chair of the Church Buildings Council, said: "The point of the competition has been to raise both the standard of chairs going into churches to replace pews, and to highlight the potential that churches have to offer the design community and those just entering the profession."

Visit the ChurchCare website for further details.



The Judging Panel:
The Rt Revd and Rt Hon Richard Chartres, Bishop of London (Chair)
John Makepeace OBE - furniture designer and maker
Matthew Rice - illustrator and architectural enthusiast
The Revd Stephen Mason - Vicar of St John's, Hyde Park
Anne Sloman OBE - Chair, Church Buildings Council

The finalists:

Category 1: Design a chair to retail under £100, open to students & recent graduates.

  • Ian Smith (Foundation degree, Rycotewood Furniture Centre, 2011)
  • Luke White (MA in Design, University of Plymouth, 2010)
  • Harry Owen (MA in Furniture Design, Bucks New University, 2011)
  • Nick Shurey (BSc in Architecture, University of Bath, 2010)
  • Marie Blanchot (Licence and Master in Architecture, Ecole National Superieure D'architecture de Bretagne, France, 2009)

Category 2: Design a chair to retail under £200, open to all. 

  • Sir Terence Conran
  • Julian Evans from BroomeJenkins
  • Søren Rose Studio
  • Tomoko Azumi & TNA Design Studio
  • David Colwell

Category 3: A seat (bench or chair) already in production.

  • Luke Hughes Ltd
  • Simon Pengelly for Chorus

St John's Hyde Park:
Hyde Park Crescent, London W2 2QD.
A Commissioners' church built in 1831 to the designs of Charles Fowler. Grade II listed.

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