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Huge congratulations to Alex Pitts, who has been awarded the Gordon Russell Design Museum’s Ray Leigh Design Prize 2021.

Alex Pitts Furniture

Alex is a 3rd year degree student at Rycotewood Furniture College in Oxford, specialising in freestanding bespoke furniture. His passion for woodworking began in his grandad’s shed at just five years old. He started by restoring and selling antique furniture but he soon felt the urge to make something of his own design. As a result, he joined Rycotewood in 2018 and now has his own workshop, with all the hand tools and machines necessary to make his designs a reality.


The Ray Leigh Design Prize

Established by the Gordon Russell Museum, The Ray Leigh Design Prize was created in recognition of the enormous contribution made by Ray Leigh MBE, founding Trustee of the Museum. The award is presented annually for the best design sketchbook amongst the graduates of the BA (Hons) Furniture Design and Make course at Rycotewood.

This year the judges were impressed by the creative design solutions incorporated into all Alex’s final year projects. Also his high level of craftsmanship. Sean Feeney of Sean Feeney Furniture was a judge for this year’s award, he said:

The Ray Leigh Design Prize was awarded to Alex for two reasons. Firstly, the creative design solutions incorporated within all his final year projects. Secondly, the standard of making with a high level of craftsmanship and the attention to detail provided the viewer with visually stunning, practical pieces of exemplary furniture.

Sean Feeney

Prize sponsors

As this year’s prize sponsor, Axminster Tools were thrilled to be invited to present the award along with a £250 Axminster Tools voucher. Antony Jempson, UK B2B Manager went along as the Axminster representative to make the presentation to Alex. Antony said:

As a business, Axminster Tools are passionate about woodworking and helping to build a sustainable future for the industry. In view of that, we actively seek to support the education of vital woodworking skills. We feel privileged to be in a position to support awards such as The Ray Leigh Design Prize and help celebrate talent in the industry. Furthermore, we wish Alex all the very best for an exciting career.

Antony Jempson (Axminster Tools, UK B2B Manager)

A word from the winner

Understandably thrilled to have received such wonderful recognition of his outstanding work, Alex said:

I’m privileged to have been awarded The Ray Leigh Design Prize for my work at Rycotewood Furniture College. The Gordon Russell Design Museum has been a great partner to the college having inspired many projects. The stunning work that is on display has had a big impact on my perception of quality furniture. Achieving this award means a great deal and will help my own business as a bespoke furniture maker grow. Likewise, the generous sponsorship from Axminster Tools will help me to expand my own collection of tools, which will enable me to make even better furniture.

Alex Pitts

Congratulations once again to Alex. If you would like to view more of Alex’s work, you can do so on his website or social media @apittsfurniture.

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