In November Gaze Burvill had two wonderful interactions with the Royal Air Force and Rycotewood College on a project born out of the RAF centenary.

2018 marks the 100th year of the RAF and Simon was delighted to accept an invitation to tour the RAF Museum at the site of the former Hendon Aerodrome, with five major buildings and hangars dedicated to the history of aviation and the Royal Air Force. The museum is part of the way through an incredible adaptation of its hangers bringing to life many aspects to the role of the RAF throughout the years.

Rycotewood College in Oxford is widely regarded as Britain’s leading furniture design college and educates students who often go on to become real talents in the industry. After a successful partnership earlier in the year, it was a pleasure to receive an invite from Joseph Bray, Programme Leader Furniture: Design and Make to work together again.

There is a long history between furniture makers and the Royal Air Force as during WW2 the planes were often built in the furniture factories, most notably the Mosquito fighter bomber AKA the ‘Wooden Wonder’. In fact, regular furniture production was suspended in many factories as resources were redirected towards the war effort.

This is mainly due to the fact that these early aircraft were primarily constructed from timber and the skills the furniture makers had in frame making for a chaise lounge could transfer into fuselage construction!

The day began with a number of short presentations about the Lottery funded RAF Centenary Programme and Simon speaking about the properties of Oak and why it is Gaze Burvill’s first choice of timber when designing for the outdoors.

The group was treated to a fabulous tour of the Museum and were able to see the incredible breadth of pieces that make up the collections.

The most notable wooden aircraft to come from WWII era is the ‘Mosquito’, a twin Rolls Royce Merlin engined fighter bomber (see photo below) and both Simon and the Rycotewood students were captivated by the guided tour of the hanger it is displayed in lead by Ian Thirsk, Head of Collections who was a fountain of knowledge.

The group met up again two weeks later at Lodge Farm where the students were given access all areas from the design lab through to the working factory. They heard short talks from Gaze Burvill’s Designer, Charlie Dedman on how Gaze Burvill were embracing new technologies and opening up capabilities previously reserved for the MOD!

The next steps for the students are to create a project based on any aspect of the RAF Museum which could go on to become seating in the grounds of Hendon Aerodrome. Simon is heading back to the college in the New Year to help assess the work of the students and provide critical feedback.


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