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The Creative Index & the First Degree Course in Kitchen Design

I developed the Kitchen Creative Index as a checklist for the kitchen industry to offer more creativity to customers, as I believe they deserve more exciting and better designed kitchens. As people selling and making kitchens are not given enough training or opportunity I have helped set up the first ever Kitchen Design degree course, starting in September 2013, at Bucks New University.

I will be presenting a talk, sponsored by Miele UK, on this topic at the KBB conference on 12th September in order to help persuade the kitchen industry to back the course.

Spagetti bench design by Pablo Reinoso

Always use a good crisis, so the political saying goes. I would like to think the kitchen industry could benefit from the financial downturn through using creativity in their offering in readiness for full economic recovery. The industry can re-enchant householders by pointing out it that the kitchen is now the main social room in most people’s homes and so worth investing in. It’s a living room in which you cook.

Here are six suggestions for designing better kitchens, taken from the initial content of the Creative Index:

1. Communication and collaboration. See a kitchen project as about making a whole environment – more than installing cabinets. Imagine thinking like an artist, interior architect, psychologist and kitchen designer all rolled into one. Every customer is entitled to a brainstorm session, in their own home, exploring how they might use a kitchen for more than cooking. Look at how adjacent rooms are used, as well as access to the garden and integrate the kitchen into the matrix. Establish an ongoing design conversation and suggest favourite items of furniture and décor be included. 2. Design and Layout. Make sure that sight lines work for the cook. Eye contact is vital for sociability. Is the scale of the furniture appropriate for the room? Is the table a decent size and placed within the arc of sunlight coming through the windows? Is the architecture respected and can any features be retained? Will the space be sociable and encourage lingering? Are there any perching places? 3. Ergonomics and appliances. Can people move around with ease, especially when the cook is not the only one in the room? Is the culinary zone efficiently planned so that the cook feels organized and enough space is left for sociable furnishing? Are there varied countertop heights and materials to allow for multiple uses? Are the appliances ergonomically positioned, in particular the dishwasher, hob and oven heights? 4. Creative review. A moment to reflect on the big picture as well as the details. Has the architecture been used to maximum effect or is there a new window waiting to be put in to reveal a view or bring in more light? Will the owners feel they really belong in their new kitchen, does it reflect their character in any way? Will the design make the clients smile or raise their spirits? Could it date easily? If so, look at reducing any close similarity to items in high fashion, say handles, colours or materials? The kids, will they be welcome? Is the table big enough for people to work on before or after meals? Will it end up feeling like a room that will be used a lot? Will there be a spot where fresh produce can be displayed so showing its credentials as a place where food is cooked? 5. Manufacturing, materials and budget. Cleanly produced, eco materials and energy efficient appliances are in everyone’s interest. These include induction hobs, steam ovens, low water use dishwashers and LED lighting. Ethically minded customers are more likely to spend money and feel good if what they are buying is not harming the environment. Anything artisan made, particularly accessories, are an easy way of upgrading lower cost cabinetry. Willow baskets, hand made tiles, handles, brackets and artwork panels add interest and charcater. Does the design leave opportunity to personalize over time? Vacant wall space allows for pictures to be added later. 6. Niceties. Every kitchen needs personal touches. These could be a rocking chair, window seat, music system, a fireplace or family heirloom like a dresser to display the children’s pottery. Is there a spot for the family dog or space for a family noticeboard or desk? Can some of the furniture to be moved around like the way people do in their sitting rooms and can it be taken with them if they leave their home or move house? Is the lighting flexible enough to make a kitchen evening a cosy experience?

All this is dependent on having skilled kitchen designers available to carryout the work. Once we have students graduating from the kitchen design course the industry will truly be able to raise the quality of their offering and customers will benefit from more original and efficient kitchens.

For enquiries about the kitchen design course: Julie Catlow, Business and new courses co-ordinator, Faculty of Design, Media and Management Bucks New University

Tel: 01494 603153


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