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Why do most kitchens look the same? Thoughts for the industry Part II*

I think the kitchen industry – and kitchen designers – have to own up. The kitchens most people end up with look depressingly similar. Admittedly there are different looks but we know what they are and these collections – as we like to call them – are hardly the bees knees in variety or works of great design.

We probably know why they look the same, too. ‘No time for real design and no demand for original design’. Market research is often the excuse of the unimaginative for not doing something. I experienced this during my days at Smallbone. The Unfitted Kitchen did not have a market before we created one – and now freestanding furniture is happily back in our design lexicon. We took an intuitive risk.

Think of what great product designers have done to advance design. These include Mark Newsome, Thomas Heatherwick or Marcel Wanders, or architects such as Frank Gehry and Glenn Murcutt. The big fashion houses do the same thing everyday – they create edgy designs that people love, or at the very least will wear. Details first seen on the catwalk become part of our daily design vocabulary a few seasons later.

Why can’t we kitchen designers learn a little from these guys? On Friday Feb 12, during Jason Wu’s fashion show during New York Fashion Week, I have a chance to ask him what the kitchen industry could learn from what he does.

It is possible to solve a brief well, be original and sell your ideas to a client regardless of the size of the budget. You have to do four things: take the client through an unblocking process to establish a unique and personal brief; be prepared to say ‘no’ on occasion; communicate your ideas well; and have a passionate understanding of your craft.

*Please note the title of the blog is a dialectical tribute to Ian Dury’s song Reasons to Be Cheerful Part 3.


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