Upholstery School

What makes training at SDR different?

A personal approach as part of a friendly, creative community with small class sizes and flexible, innovative teaching all resulting in incredible and inspiring finished pieces. And for those who wish to change careers there is nowhere better to gain the advice, exposure and opportunities to the industry to help you on your path to becoming an upholsterer. This is the SDR experience and this is why we’re different:

Personal

We are a small, creative community with a fantastic team of highly experienced, expert upholstery tutors who care deeply about their students and their individual needs. We deliver our courses in a fun and engaging environment where we give our students both the knowledge and crucially the confidence to be able to think for themselves and think around problems. Good quality upholstery is achieved by eye, feel and judgment which are the key skills we aim to help our students achieve.

Understanding how different people learn and respond to teaching is absolutely key to how we operate our courses. Significant one to one teaching is possible because of our small class sizes, but we also put huge value on working as a group, learning and being inspired by each other.

Creating a personal, nurturing and inspiring environment is a fundamental belief we have here at SDR: we organise trips, talks, visits to exhibitions as well as social events (students accompanying their tutors for an after class drink is not an uncommon sight!), but this is all vital in creating exactly the sort of environment that allows our students to express themselves and to grow.

Small Classes

We guarantee that every class will only ever have a maximum of 8 students per tutor (and for particular classes working on particular techniques we can often have two tutors working with our 8 students). It is something we feel is vital to effective learning: the amount of effective one to one teaching is fundamental to what we offer, as students getting lost and not heard in large, oversized classes with over-stretched tutors is not a good learning environment. This policy of guaranteeing no more than 8 students per tutor, as well as even bringing in extra tutors for particular parts of the course is unique compared to a lot of other schools/courses.

Opportunities & Changing Career

Liberty Talk at Shoreditch Design RoomsA key part of SDR is the fact that we run a fully working, commercial upholstery workshop and studio from within the same space as the school. We feel it is invaluable and inspiring for all our students who have any career aspirations (however big or small) to see a modern, working upholstery studio in everyday action, with pieces of all sizes, shapes and ages coming in and out the door.
We often take our students through the workshop to talk through these different jobs and projects : how do we quote, what things need to be considered, what are the likely problems, where do we source our materials, how long will things take etc.

It enables our students to embed their learning on our courses with a real, first hand sense of what is involved as a working upholsterer.

We also bring our clients and industry contacts to come and speak to our students: fabric companies, interior designers, architects, iconic brands and department stores all regularly visit SDR either informally to meet our students or as part of our official Design Series Talks.

It’s something our students really value as it opens up invaluable opportunities for them and it puts their upholstery training and learning with us in a very real context and instills a belief that they are on a path towards an exciting change of career.

Innovation and Creativity

Our attention to detail in teaching the technical processes of both modern and traditional upholstery techniques is fundamental. Installing this technical knowledge is vital but we also encourage and push our students to be creative, to experiment using different fabrics, colours, finishes and materials. All in order to create final pieces of real interest.

So we have created a fantastic network of different fabric / textile brands and companies – large, world famous textile brands right through to small, artisan suppliers all of whom come in to talk directly with our students about their amazing products. It’s inspiring to hear and learn about and provides our students with an incredible and privileged insight into the world of fabrics, allowing them the chance to come up with some very original and cutting edge final designs for their pieces.

Kvadrat – one of the world’s leading and most influential fabric and textile companies – exclusively sponsor an annual prize for SDR students.

Flexibility

We understand that everyone learns differently. We understand that everyone will choose very different sorts of chairs for their final projects – all presenting very different challenges. We understand that everyone will want to attempt different finishes and designs. So we also understand that it’s totally unrealistic to expect to run a course with a strict set of hours and days.

The lights don’t go off and the studio door isn’t locked at the normal finishing time of 4.30pm every day. Unlike many training centres and universities we have the flexibility to provide our accredited students with necessary extra time and extra teaching. As deadlines approach we’ll open up at weekends, in the evenings, fit you in with different classes etc. All at no extra charge.

We have fantastic tutors who care deeply about what they do and will always go above and beyond to get their students through the course successfully. It is this commitment and this flexibility which has played a huge part in helping us achieve our 100% record of successfully getting every student who has come to SDR since we launched through what is a demanding AMUSF qualification.

Our Student’s Work

Everything boils down to the standard of work produced by our students…and the standard achieved is phenomenal. It is something everyone at SDR is immensely proud of – when we exhibit everyone’s work at our end of year show we are always truly inspired by what our students have created.

Each year, the AMUSF assessors have highlighted “the ambition, the creativity and technical precision” of the work created by the SDR students, giving us the best results in the country. We have a 100% pass rate for all our AMUSF students, with 60% of students since we launched gaining the highest possible “distinction” accolade. Gaining a distinction requires almost perfect work which is incredibly hard and as such a truly fantastic achievement.

See a selection of our student’s most recent work: SDR Galleries

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