We know that everyone’s different and that’s at the heart of our approach to teaching upholstery at SDR. We offer something for everyone by teaching the excellent AMUSF defined curriculum on our accredited upholstery courses as well as offering more informal leisure courses. All our upholstery courses have expert teaching in common, as well as a balance of healthy structure with a relaxed, friendly learning environment that leaves loads of room for creativity and innovation.
We think upholstery is a bit of a life changer, and for those who are looking for a career change there’s nowhere better to gain the advice, exposure and opportunities within the industry to help you on your path to becoming an upholsterer.
We don’t see ourselves as ‘just’ an upholstery school, we’re a community, people make friends here and are part of the family long after they leave.
Here’s a bit more detail about the SDR experience and why we’re different:
We are a small, creative bunch with a fantastic team of expert upholstery tutors who care deeply about their students and their individual needs. We deliver our upholstery courses in a fun, engaging and collaborative environment, giving students both the knowledge and confidence to think for themselves and problem solve. Good quality upholstery is achieved by eye, feel and judgment, these are the key skills we aim to help our students achieve.
We’re firm believers in equipping students with the skills to tackle any type of upholstery challenge, not just the one in front of them at the time; that’s why we try not to place too many restrictions on the projects they work on here (within reason!) and take every opportunity in class to talk and learn from each others’ projects.
Creating a personal, nurturing and inspiring place to learn is fundamental to us at SDR: we organise trips, talks, visits to exhibitions as well as social events. After class drinks anyone?
We guarantee that every upholstery course class will have a maximum of 8 students per tutor. For particular classes working on certain techniques we can often have two tutors working with our 8 students. The amount of effective one to one teaching is fundamental to what we offer, we want everyone to feel part of a small close-knit group learning together, where everyone’s voice can be heard and classmates can learn from each other as well as from the teaching on offer.
Small class sizes also mean our teachers can understand how different people learn and respond to teaching, ensuring students are fully supported to really achieve their best.
A key feature of SDR is the fully working, commercial upholstery workshop and studio that we run from within the same space as the school. We feel it’s invaluable for all our students who have any career aspirations, big or small, to see a modern, functioning upholstery studio in everyday action. We constantly see pieces of all sizes, shapes and ages coming in and out of the yellow door.
We often take our students into the workshop to talk through different jobs and projects: how we quote, what things need to be considered, what are the likely problems, where we source our materials, how long will things take. It enables them to expand upon their on course learning with a real, first hand sense of what’s involved day to day as a working upholsterer.
We also bring our clients and industry contacts in to speak to 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.
This opens up a network of opportunities for those learning at SDR, putting their upholstery training into broader context and setting them up on their path towards an exciting change of career.
Our attention to detail in teaching the technical processes of both modern and traditional upholstery techniques is fundamental. Instilling technical knowledge is vital, but we also encourage our students to be creative, to experiment using different fabrics, colours, finishes and materials. All in order to create final pieces of real interest.
We also tap into our strong network of different fabric and textile brands and companies, from 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. Not only is it inspiring to learn about current fabrics, and give students broad fabric choices for their projects, it also offers them valuable knowledge about suitability of fabrics that will equip them to advise clients in future.
Kvadrat – one of the world’s leading and most influential fabric and textile companies – exclusively sponsor an annual prize for SDR students.
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 teaching. As deadlines approach we’ll open up at weekends, in the evenings or fit students in with different classes, all at no extra charge.
We have fantastic tutors who will always go above and beyond to get their students through the course successfully. It is this commitment and flexibility which has played a huge part in helping us achieve our 100% record of successfully getting every student who has come to SDR through what is a demanding AMUSF qualification.
Everything boils down to the standard of work produced by our students on our upholstery courses and the standard achieved is phenomenal. It’s 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: Student Galleries
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