Smart becomes FMC master
Tony Smart has become the Furniture Makers’ Company’s 56th master, succeeding Ben Burbidge.
Smart was installed at St Mary-le-Bow Church in the City of London, followed by a celebratory dinner at Mansion House, the official residence of the Lord Mayor of London. More than 220 members of the furniture industry were in attendance at the installation dinner and were joined by dignitaries including Lord Mayor Locum Tenens, Alderman Dame Fiona Woolf.
‘It was a remarkable evening and one that I will never forget, among so many friends and colleagues from our industry along with their guests, and in the presence of the Lord Mayor Locum Tenens and Dame Fiona Woolf. The theme for my year is education, training and skills and I would like to remind you of our Bridging the Gap conference on 18 May at Furniture Makers’ Hall where we will be explaining how the government’s apprenticeship levy will affect companies large and small,’ said Smart.
The evening also included an award ceremony for The Christopher Claxton Stevens Prize, The Jonathan Hindle Prize for Excellence and a Lifetime Achievement Award.
The Christopher Claxton Stevens Prize is awarded for the most outstanding piece of furniture awarded a Bespoke Guild Mark of its year. The Bespoke Guild Mark recognises design excellence in pieces made as single items or in batches up to 12. The prize was presented to Richard Williams for his display cabinet made from bog oak.
Created in 2015 by Design Guild Mark founder Jonathan Hindle, the Jonathan Hindle Prize for Excellence prize is awarded to the most outstanding design awarded a Design Guild Mark of its year. The Design Guild Mark recognises design excellence in volume production. It was awarded to Richard Stevens of forpeople for their Keyn Chair Range for Herman Miller.
The Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to Margaret Miller in recognition of her 60 years at Knightsbridge Furniture and contribution to the furnishing industry.
Smart was born in Buckinghamshire near High Wycombe in 1945. He studied physics and electronics at Harrow and Watford Technical Colleges. On leaving education he gained an apprenticeship at GEC, specialising in microwave devices for radar systems. He later worked for Mullard, a member of the Philips Group, before moving to a subsidiary of Thorn EMI Electronics where he rose to the level of marketing director.
It wasn’t until 1999 that he swapped electronics for furniture and was appointed commercial director at Rycotewood Furniture Centre, and then assistant principle for customer services and marketing for Oxford and Cherwell Colleges. After retiring in 2005, he returned to Rycotewood as a student and gained a distinction at Level 3 in Furniture Restoration.
He joined the FMC as a freeman in 2002 and, on becoming a liveryman, joined what evolved into the education and training committee in 2003. His passion for education and safeguarding the future of the furnishing industry has seen him serve on the Young Furniture Makers’ committee and participate in many of student initiatives. More recently he has played an instrumental part in the development of the new apprenticeship standards.
In 2000 he was awarded an MBE for charity work in his local community and received an Honorary Doctorate in 2010 from Bucks New University.