Young Furniture Makers exhibition

Josey's Journey into The Industry


“I have a strong interest in maths, engineering, and art, and wanted to combine everything into one career”

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Award-Winning bespoke furniture maker Josey Garbutt's journey into the furniture and furnishings industry began at a very young age. "I expressed an interest in wood at a very young age and did a wood carving course age five," he recalls.

His early experiences also included pyrography, the art of decorating wood or other materials by burning designs into the surface with a heated tool, which fostered a passion for creative processes and craftsmanship.

"When I was 16, I built my own workshop and did some furniture making as a hobby for a couple of years, using YouTube to learn skills and techniques. I have a strong interest in maths, engineering, and art, and I enjoyed creative processes and wanted to combine everything into one career," Josey explains.

“I was inspired by some of Matt Estlea’s accurate hand cut joints, and the fine attention to detail in veneer work by companies such as Edward Barnsley. I liked the forms found within nature, and I like to emulate them in some of my designs.”

After completing a year of Art Foundation at UCA, Farnham, Josey pursued further education at the Rycotewood Furniture Centre. There, he undertook a BA Hons in Furniture Design and Make, complemented by summer work placements at Opus Magnum. These experiences equipped him with both theoretical knowledge and practical skills essential for his future endeavours. "Make the most of your time at Uni to use the workshops to try out new ideas and make complicated pieces," advises Josey.

Josey's dedication has garnered recognition from prestigious organisations, including The Furniture Makers’ Company and William Hands.

Winning accolades such as The Furniture Makers’ Company’s School Design Award in 2016, Williams Hands’ Gordon Russel Prize, and the Young Furniture and Joinery Designer Maker of the Year. Josey was also awarded the Contemporary Craftsmanship Award at the Rycotewood exhibition two years running, and best in show in his final year. In 2023, Josey won both the Bespoke Award and Best in Show prize at the Young Furniture Makers Awards; which included a trip to Blum’s HQ in Austria.

“I visited the Blum design and manufacturing facilities in Austria, it was a great experience to see how a large company relies on optimising their process to the degree that no human is involved in the production of many of their products”.

Josey’s experience at the Young Furniture Makers Awards allowed him to network with some of the best in the industry and has led to an exciting new opportunity after Josey impressed the renowned British furniture designer John Makepeace OBE. John personally commissioned Foris Studio, consisting of Josey and his fellow Rycotewood graduates, Thom O'Nions, and Krav Metcalfe, to create John’s designs for the Obelisk 3 cabinet which was unveiled in July 2024.

The striking piece features a blackened oak exterior and a rippled sycamore interior, showcasing extremely skilled and innovative techniques. Exhibited by Sarah Myerscough Gallery at the TEFAF Art Fair in Maastricht, this project was an honour and challenge for Foris Studio. They stated, "We are immensely proud of the result and grateful for the opportunity to collaborate with such a renowned designer."

“It’s a great opportunity to exhibit work, gather feedback from the best people in the industry, and see what other people are designing and making. It’s great to be recognised for all the hours of work that I put into designing and making my ‘lines’ puzzle cabinet, and it felt like a huge accolade given the standard of all the exhibitor’s work.”

Looking ahead, Josey aims to continue growing Foris Studio alongside his colleagues. "Being self-employed means I have the freedom to design and make a range of interesting projects," Josey notes. His aspirations include establishing himself as a renowned designer-maker, showcasing his work in galleries both nationally and internationally. "Continuing to work for myself, alongside my friends and coworkers – Krav Metcalfe and Thom O’Nions. Continuing to grow our business – Foris Studio, as we take on more bespoke work," he envisions.

Josey's journey underscores the importance of passion, perseverance, and practical experience in navigating a successful career in the furniture industry. His advice encourages aspiring individuals to pursue their interests ardently and remain committed to continuous learning and growth.

Find out what a role in the UK furniture and furnishing industry has to offer by reading the inspirational stories and achievements of people who are successfully forging careers in the sector.