I believe the public is often deprived of creativity when buying a new kitchen. This is the reason why I am calling for the setting up the Kitchen Creative Index: it’s a list of actions that would ensure every customer gets a kitchen environment which has sound ergonomics and suits their personality, home space and budget requirements, and has sustainable thinking built in.
In financially straightened times when resources are limited it’s right moment to unleash the powers of creativity to make well developed kitchen designs. This involves a two step process, empathetic listening and inventive thinking is followed by meticulous sifting and refining of the design to make it work. It’s not only the artistic and style elements that need including in the design proposal but a focused attention on value for money and ergonomics. Blue-sky thinking should open up the use of new materials, sustainable appliances, lighting design, which of the home owners possessions can be incorporated and how effectively the architecture is deployed.
There are unknowns ahead for uninitiated clients (and if there aren’t, there should be). A good customer relationship starts with exploring these unknowns and unblocking preset ideas. This is a productive process that counters the general suspicion of the unfamiliar and helps allay anxiety. Many of our regular commercial transactions are unemotional purchases. However purchasing a kitchen environment should not be like buying a collection of products; it’s a service and multi-faceted one at that.
Our job as kitchen makers is to provide the consumer with ideas that translate into a physical product, not the other way round. Good ergonomics, a high sociability factor and abstract notions such as providing meaning through individual associations of objects do matter. (Neuroscience studies will tell you that the brain uses surroundings as ways of recalling memories – we have more emotional connection to things we use or decorate our homes with than we may realize). Alienation comes about when we don’t identify with our environments. Dull, copycat brochure led kitchens are a case in point.
Childhood memories, scenes from places we have visited or things we have loved, whether objects on a mantelpiece or a vintage armchair that our granny used to sit on should be included in the story-board for a kitchen design. Favourite colours that have no easily identifiable reason for being liked help make up a ‘mental map of comfort’. As kitchen makers we need to connect with our customers so we can create a wonderful physical world of surfaces you can stroke, places to perch, furniture that helps the body move smoothly from one culinary activity to another that provide hints of pleasure scattered throughout the room.
Over the next few months, starting at Grand Designs Live next Sunday, I will be talking about the Kitchen Creative Index at a number of public events, sponsored by Miele UK. What should kitchen companies and the design professions offer their customers in the way of creative guarantee? What should customers expect? With luck this will help rebuild confidence and increase the status of the kitchen industry and make the whole process of buying a kitchen more enjoyable and better value for money.
Please get touch with ideas for ideas you think should be in this manifesto. Email firstname.lastname@example.org; facebook http://www.facebook.com/pages/Johnny-Grey-Studios; twitter @Johnny Grey.
Grand Designs Live is on Sunday 13th at 4pm. I will be in discussions with George Clarke. Please come and join us in live debate.