Guest Lecture Series


Hugh Miller: Japanese Wood Craftsmanship

5pm, Thursday 6th October, Budden Lecture Theatre


From my studio in central Liverpool, I specialise in the design and making of contemporary hardwood furniture. I dividing my time between producing collections for sale and exhibition, and creating bespoke commissions for private clients.

Before starting my furniture studio, I studied architecture at Newcastle University, and gained my Masters in Architecture from the University of Sheffield. My architectural training remains intrinsic to my work and is evident in everything I make. I see my furniture as small pieces of architecture, designed with the rigour of the 'architectural method', where the broad brush-strokes of the concept flows through in to the intricacy of the detail.

During my architectural education I became interested in Japanese design. It is a subject that has fascinated me ever since, and culminated in me travelling to Japan for an 8-week research trip funded by the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust to study Japan's unique woodworking culture.


The tools, techniques and philosophies that make Japan’s unique woodworking culture so special, and how they can influence Western designers.


In November and December 2015, I travelled to Japan to uncover what it is that makes the wood craftsmanship there so special.

From their unique set of tools, to the many obscure techniques that have been developed, to the philosophies of making that guide decision making, there is something different about Japanese woodworking.

Using precedents from architecture and furniture making, I aim to decode some of the mysticism that surrounds Japanese design and craftsmanship, and establish if the practical, philosophical and cultural landscape of woodworking in Japan contributes to a national aesthetic identity.

I will also examine how the principles of Japanese design can inspire designers from a Western tradition, using examples from my recently completed collection of Japanese inspired furniture.