The Wood Awards: get inspired then get to work

Dec 17, 2013 | english hardwoods, furniture timber, Grown in Britain, joinery timber, structural timber


04.BishopEdwardKingChapel  05-BishopEdwardKingChapel-we_612 wood awards 2013

Presenting the exquisitely beautiful  glulam structure of Bishop Edward King Chapel,Ripon College, Oxford by Niall McLaughlin Architects with structural engineers  Price & Myers and main contractor/builder Beard and joinery company D Smith Joinery Ltd. The timber was  European oak and American ash for fitted furniture and internal doors, with spruce glue laminated timber supplied by Cowley Timberwork, Lincolnshire.

This building isn’t about traditional timber structures as we know them.

It’s an approach to structure that utilises innovative engineered timber products and CAD design capabilites (something that has had far more influence over the way buildings can look and the way they can be built than any individual architect or engineer ever has). The collective work that brought about this building is incredibly inspiring.

I have to rein myself in at this point…  but you know wood right?

Well  look at what these guys did with it. It’s pretty special isn’t it?


A month ago I was invited by the lovely  Wood Awards people to Carpenters Hall (my first ever visit to the home of the Worshipful Company of Carpenters) to be there when they annouced this years winners and gave out the prizes… you know.. the actual  Wood Awards ceremony, celebrating the pinnacle of designing and working with wood… our favourite subject!

I was hardly going to say ‘No’ now was I?

So I went. On the train (less said about that the better).

As I arrived at the front door of  No.1 Throgmorton Avenue I found a little A4 printed sign inside a plastic sleeve for weatherproofing (excellent use of a plastic sleeve) that told me to go wait  outside the side door.

As it turned out, that was no bad thing.

the entrance to carpenter's hall

The real Throgmorton Avenue is quite grand, full of that giant Nash style architecture that regency London was so fond of. And the doors! This avenue must have the most enormous doors in London (with the possible exception of Drury Lane).

Throgmorton Avenue, home of carpenters hall has big doors

The reading of plaques and the studying of this stained glass window (which I didn’t manage to find from the inside) kept me and the other gathering woodfans occupied for the duration of our wait, which in all honesty, I really didn’t mind. I was too busy savouring the occasion and wondering if we’d eventually be ushered in through creaking doors by liveried lurchlike footmen or something.

stained glass at carpenters hall

Once inside, it was a little hard to concetrate on meeting and greeting friends, old and new, because as many of you can attest, I just can’t concentrate when there’s wood around.  It was wall to wood and I should have anticipated this (schoolgirl error). It took me a few minutes to regain my composure but then of course I was off…  it was a license to talk wood.. so I did!! Which is one of the nice things about going to a wood-centric event, for once I wasn’t the biggest woodgeek at the party.

the wood awards 2013 get underway

Once the ceremony was underway however we all shut up pretty sharpish.

I can’t overstate how excited I was to be there and to watch the evening unfold. You have to admire all of the designers and architects and structural engineers and furniture makers who go out on a limb  to enter themselves into one of the award categories , prepared to be judged on what they do & how they do it, constantly being  compared to their peers . You have to be a bit brave to do it surely? To take the risk you’re not going to win, or even make the shortlist. That’s some serious belief and confidence don’t you reckon? (But that’s gonna be you next year right?)

So those in the audience who made it to the shortlist were  holding their breath and crossing their fingers until their knuckles went white whilst the annoucements were made for each category.


And the list went tlike this…


Shortlisted:  The Colyer-Fergusson Building (Tim Ronalds Architects) Abbotsford Visitor Reception Building (LDN Architects) Festival House – ‘Tower of Love’ (dRMM Architects) Mary Rose Museum (Wilkinson Eyre Architects)

Winner:  The Colyer-Fergusson Building 

colyer fergusson building

& Highly Commended: Festival House ‘The Tower of Love’



Shortlisted:  The Dune House (Mole Architects)  Church Walk (David Mikhail Architects) Crowbrook (Knox Bhavan Architects) Rigg Beck (Knox Bhavan Architects) Trewarren (John Pardey Architects)

Winner: Church Walk

church walk

& Highly Commended: Trewarren



Shortlist:  Abraham Darby Sports and Learning Community (BDP) Bishop Edward King Chapel (Niall McLaughlin Architects) The Living Link (Smith and Wallwork) Future Affordable (David Blaikie)

Winner:  Bishop Edward King Chapel

bishop edward king chapel



Shorlist:  Bells Farm (Nick Joyce Architects) The RSA – The Royal Society of Arts (Matthew Lloyd Architects) Magheralin Parish Church (Waddington-McClure Architects)

Winner: Magheralin Parish Church

magheralin parish church



Shortlist:  The Exbury Egg (PAD Studio) Expandable Surface System (Architectural Association) Alex Monroe Studio, Snowfields (DSDHA) RoominaRoom (Atmos Studio)

Winner: RoominaRoom

room in a room atmosstudtio

Highly Commended: Alex Monroe Studio, Snowsfields



Shortlist:  Holland park Chair (Ercol Furniture) Joyce Cabinet (Pinch Design) Clyde Side Table (Pinch Design) HAN by Mark Gabbertas for Lyndon (Gabbertas Studio) Theo Chair (Pengellydesign) The Storyboard (Otter Surfboards) Otter x The National Trust (Otter Surfboards)

Winner: Theo Chair

theo chair by simon pengelly

& Highly Commended: The Storyboard Highly Commended:  Otter X The National Trust



Shorlist: Ripples (EJ Bespoke Furniture)  Nimm Rae (Chaircreative) Tay Bench (Angus Ross Ltd) Worldscape (Atmos Studio)

Winner: Ripples



Then there was a little suprise as Mr Sutcliffe announced a JUDGES SPECIAL AWARD for AtmosStudio’s Worldscape and quite rightly so.

worldscape by atmosstudio

This project is a departure from so many conventional ideas of furniture, woodworking, landscaping, exhibition installation… so sit on it yourself and you’ll see what I mean! P.S. take a picnic…


And now.. drumroll please..  last but not at all the least…

The very super special and lifechangingly meaningful GOLD AWARD went to Niall Mclaughlin’s Bishop Edward King Chapel .

nial mclaughlin architects get gold and structural at wood awards

What more can I say?

So there it was. Done.

Now what are you all going to do? I know, they’re hard acts to follow but… but… you knew there would be a ‘but’ didn’t you??!!

Here’s the thing…

Competition is good.

The Wood Awards is a competition that any of you woodworking geniuses can and should be entering with your best projects.

Competition is good if it means you steel yourself to push a design through, work even harder or longer or smarter when you really aren’t sure you have it in you but you try anyway. It stretches you and gives you deadlines and helps ideas become reality and encourages you to do your best work because it provides  the reason.

wood awards supplement for TTJ & RIBA journal

Let’s face it, sometimes we all need a reason.

Well this one is yours. And in 2014, 0r 2015 or whenever the moment is for you… your best work could be featured in every design publication in the world, and your name could be the name on everybody’s lips. It’s not about fame… but it is about credibility and exposure and profile. I don’t want to say it but it’s effectively X-factor for the unknown designer/maker. You don’t want to admit it but you know you know who JLS are… and they didn’t even win x-factor!

See what I mean? You could be be the JLS of the wood world.

You want this, don’t you?! (said in the voice of the emperor from Star Wars)

So what next?

Click all those links above. Browse through all these projects. Get inspired…  and then for goodness sake get to work!

The 2013 awards had 314 entries. That seems like alot but I know it’s not.  We have more than 314 customers in one month  that have what it takes to enter next years wood awards, let alone one year. We know you’re out there!

If you get stuck just get in touch!

We’ll gladly talk you  into entering!

P.S. I have to give credit to Carpenters hall at this point who really spoiled us,  providing really great canapes and the fastest refills in the west … Thanks Company of Carpenters, you were wonderful hosts!


THE Wood Awards – the ceremony is in November but the shortlist is announced at Timber Expo

Wood Awards Sponsors

Enter the Wood Awards – the entries are normally open mid March time at Ecobuild and close around June.