Designer, why designer? Part 4.2 – Bucks Uni

‘Designer’ why designer? a story with lots of twists and turns, with some what might seem completely random career choices. But no I had a plan, and it’s just coming together!

The big bang came in the third year; I was living in a red brick semi in a quiet neighborhood, just a short walk from the Bucks Uni workshop. It was so uncool that it was cool, whereas my friends had all moved in together into sex, drugs and rock’n’roll shared houses, I had gone out on a limb and done the exact opposite by renting a room in Peggy’s house, where the smell of homemade cakes would welcome me home. It was a bit like staying at your gran’s house. Whilst the cool gang was smoking the good shit I was getting briefed on the WI’s latest news, it was just what the doctor ordered – I had never been good at building beer towers anyway!

Back in the workshop, under the direction of the third year tutor, Ian, ‘the Dungeon Master’ we had finally been given total design freedom to produce three pieces of furniture in our own style. This was a dream come true but at the same time a double edged sword as my imagination was coming up with designs that I couldn’t make. Luckily Ian had magic powers and enough optimism to move mountains, which was a good job because my legs were looking for a bit of flat in the workshop. Poor Ian had to retire at the end of the year, I think we had sucked the life out of him, I swear he didn’t seem all that old.

The year rolled by and deep down I knew I would probably never finish anything, ah well, I was having fun enjoying the lack of responsibility and anyway cycling was my future. Chipper (a cycling friend) and I had planned it all out, we were going to hit the French Amateur racing scene the following year. The other students must have hated me as they all hurriedly tried to finish their furniture whilst I rocked up from time to time to scratch about in the pile of components which I called my work. “Why are they all taking it so seriously?” I would say to myself, “hmmmm now then I’m sure that if I just try to bend this a little bit more… ooups, IAN!!!!”

Good old Keith, a mature second year student who had his bench next to mine, politely questioned my idea of building a kitchen for my bro Jeremy Crook, “do you really think you have the time?” (The day everybody jumped on the best third year benches I was out pedalling, so I had to take the last bench going which was next to the second years). I had a good laugh sandwiched between him and Oates, a rather pretty girl, yes they do exist in the woodworking world and no, she didn’t have a beard or sandals. It was pretty cool, if I wanted advice on how to sharpen chisels or to catch up on the gossip with a nice smile I had all the bases covered (just be clear Keith also had a nice smile too but Oates trumped him in other areas).

To show off our achievements and to help us woo the furniture world the Uni organized an end of year show, transforming the entire workshop into a gallery where each student could display their three pieces. I seem to remember missing the cheese and wine opening, in fact I can’t actually remember anything about the show, I know it sounds really bad, well I’m sure my furniture was there, it must have been because I sold something, well someone passed on a message that I had sold something.

I have no idea how they marked our work, but in a truly great year like 2000, it didn’t really matter, it was the year everything just fell into place. I walked away from it all with a big cheeky grin and probably for all the wrong reasons. Most people remember University for the parties, balls, beer can towers, pub crawls, girl/boyfriends and maybe even the lessons, not me. The ‘furniture design’ seeds had however been sewn, even if they were subconsciously being frozen Austin Powers style deep, deep down for a good 10 year sleep. My bags were packed, I was on the move again, Chipper in tow, the next adventure was hotting up!!

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