The second year students from both HND Furniture Restoration and HND Furniture Craftsmanship with Design courses were commissioned by the Willow Tea Rooms Trust to take part in their £10 million restoration project.
Miss Cranston’s original Willow Tea Rooms Building on Glasgow’s Sauchiehall Street is recognised internationally for its importance as the only surviving tea room designed in its entirety by Charles Rennie Mackintosh. It was purchased in 2014 by The Willow Tea Rooms Trust in order to restore it to its former glory.
Sandra Gunn, Director of the Faculty of Creative Industries at City of Glasgow College, said: “This is a fascinating and challenging project and we are of course delighted that our students were chosen to be part of it. They are doing a fantastic job, painstakingly re-creating eight Mackintosh chairs which reflect their talent, commitment and craftsmanship.
“We are now approaching the end of the project. To celebrate we are holding an exhibition at the college to showcase the students’ completed chairs which will ultimately feature as part of a permanent display at the Trust’s new Visitor Centre on Sauchiehall Street from June.”
Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s furniture is world-renowned. His designs were innovative and even cutting edge for his time. The unexpected complexity of each design created many challenges for the students.
Charlie McLaughlin, studying HND Furniture Restoration, said: “This was a major undertaking as we had no detailed drawings to work from because Mackintosh didn’t produce any. Instead we had to survey and measure existing originals which we found at the Glasgow School of Art, the Hunterian Museum and the National Museum of Scotland.”
Khi Leonard, who is doing HND Furniture Craftsmanship with Design, added: “There were a number of us keen to work on this project so we split into smaller teams with responsibility for one chair each. We started by making the prototypes using pine or poplar before starting to work on the final pieces which we have made in oak.”
The Mackintosh Exhibition at City of Glasgow College will take place at its City campus on Cathedral Street from Friday 27 April until Friday 4 May. Members of the public are welcome to attend and should visit the website for details on opening times.
The restored Willow Tea Rooms building will launch in June as Mackintosh at the Willow with an Interactive Visitor Exhibition Centre where the students’ chairs will be become part of a permanent display.