Man holding bench design

Andrew Huxtable with his winning bench design

Students studying Furniture at Fife College got the chance to show off their creative skills recently by designing and building model benches as part of a design competition in partnership with the Woodland Trust.

An event was held at the College to pick a winning bench design which will be built and installed in the Formonthills woodland area of Glenrothes. After visiting the site back in September, the students, who are all studying HNC Furniture, were tasked with producing a design that reflects and complements the woodland location.

In total, twelve model designs were produced that reflect the individuals’ interpretations of the brief. Each design was of an exceptional standard which made choosing the winning design difficult for the judging panel, which comprised of staff from the College and from the Woodland Trust. 
Finally, after much deliberation, the winning design was chosen which will now be progressed so that the bench can be built and installed on site in the woodland before the summer. 
The winning design was created by Andrew Huxtable (35), from Dunfermline, whose design incorporated some elements from the new Queensferry Crossing which Andrew walked across with his fiancée just days before designing his bench.
Said Andrew: “I was very pleased when it was announced that my design was the winning one and I feel privileged that it was chosen. The bench design is made from oak and has two sides allowing visitors to view the woodland two ways and to communicate with each other. It also incorporates copper on the posts which will reflect the light when new and weather with age. I can’t wait to now build the finished bench and see it installed and being used in the picturesque woodland, what a fantastic honour! 
“In the past I worked as a web developer and in the banking sector which I didn’t enjoy and so decided to change direction. I am really enjoying my course and hope to go on to study HND Furniture next year. Longer term I would like to have my own design workshop creating bespoke pieces.”
Sustainability Adviser, John Wincott, said: “I originally approached the Woodland Trust some time ago to see if they had any potential projects that our students could be involved with and they came back with this challenging idea. The visit to the woodland and exploration of the site gave the students an excellent chance to learn about the area and absorb the atmosphere of the location. I was absolutely bowled over when I saw the quality of the designs. All of them are outstanding, and judging them was a real challenge.”

Jill Aitken, Site Manager for the Woodland Trust Scotland, said: “The idea of having the students involved in a local project like this was really welcome as we are very keen to have the local community involved wherever we can. I have to say that I was totally amazed at the quality of work, and the diversity of designs that were presented. I know that Fife College has a good reputation for this type of project, but the work here far exceeded my expectations. We are now all looking forward to seeing the finished bench installed on-site at Formonthills Wood in the summer and hope to make this an annual initiative!”

Woodland Trust Scotland is part of the largest woodland conservation charity in the UK. Formonthills is one of 60 sites it manages across Scotland, for people and wildlife.




Claire Thomson, HNC Furniture Lecturer, commented: “Projects such as this greatly improve the learning experience for our students as it is a real life commission. The project from the Woodland Trust had its own unique challenges, which the students enjoyed working on and I am especially proud of their finished model designs.  The Furniture course is designed to prepare our students for work in the world outside college, and this project complements that by giving them a valuable insight into the type of work they could be doing once they graduate.”