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University College Falmouth graduate shows off design to Sir Alan's apprentices

A former student on University College Falmouth's award winning BA (Hons) 3D Design course recently promoted his innovative chair design to the team of contestants from BBC2's hit series, The Apprentice.

Tom Raffield's beautifully hand-sculpted chair, a steam-bent wooden creation that defies conventional chair designs in virtually every respect, was hand-picked by the producers of the television show to feature in last week's task set by Sir Alan Sugar. One of Tom's similar chair designs, Chaise-Longue No4, was recently displayed to glowing critical reception at Milan's prestigious Salone Satellite exhibition.

Tom's chair was spotted during the 100% East exhibition in London last year. It featured in the Talent Zone section which exhibits work produced by emerging designers and their new businesses. Together with nine other designers from around the UK who all had their own new product prototypes, Tom pitched his design to the seated apprentices who had to pick an item that they believed could be mass produced for the commercial market.

"It was an amazing experience, verging on the surreal at times," says Tom who had the daunting task of stepping up in front of the seven remaining contestants and Sir Alan Sugar's silently watchful colleagues. "There I was shaking hands with the apprentice Syed, then standing in front of the group with my chair design and a television crew of about forty!"

After the show, Tom received encouraging feedback from the team, particularly Sir Alan's panel of judges, known only as 'Nick' and Margaret,' who praised Tom's 3D design.

"My design got some strong feedback, particularly from Sir Alan's sidekicks," says Tom. "Out of the ten designers present, I was the only recent graduate. The rest had been established industry professionals for quite some time so it was really gratifying to be recognised and praised amongst the considerable talent on show."

Since graduating from University College Falmouth, Tom has set up an innovative design and manufacturing company with two former BA (Hons) 3D Design graduates, Chris Jarrett and Charlie Whinney. The Redruth-based company, Sixixis, specialises in using exclusively Cornish unseasoned timber to create complex 3D designs for a contemporary market.

"We are extremely keen to source local wood in support of the county's economy, to design and manufacture products using the process of steam-bending," says Tom. "I have the 3D Design Course at University College Falmouth to thank for introducing my work colleagues and me to this unique process, and for assisting us in developing core business development practices that have helped us create Sixixis in Cornwall."

"The courses we teach combine the very best facilities for traditional making as well as the latest computer-controlled machinery in superb surroundings," explains University College Falmouth's Director of Design, John Miller. "We are committed to helping Cornwall's designers launch and sustain successful careers through our strong links with industry and the advice and space that we provide for fledgling businesses."

And finally did Tom get to offer Sir Alan a very unique seat? "Unfortunately not," says Tom. "There was no black Bentley in sight. He kept well away!"

For further information please contact Jilly Easterby at University College Falmouth on 01326 211077 or email:

The Objective One Programme for Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly has invested in CUC, both Phase 1 and Phase 2 through the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). University College Falmouth is a partner of the CUC.


Editor's notes:



Clare Morgan
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