Apologies to consumers and kitchen buyers … this site is for you really … but I keep getting sucked into the industry debate about how to provide better training for kitchen designers and what, if anything, should be done to certify existing professional kitchen designers. Well – ok – it might be more accurate to say that I (and others) keep stirring up the industry debate! And it is relevant to kitchen consumers – since the quality of your kitchen design is very important in determining how good your new kitchen will look.
modern kitchens require good design skills (this is a CAD illustration of one of my designs)
I’m afraid this is another very long discussion on the topic. The problems are as follows:
This is what might be called a galley kitchen - but if I'd designed it in a galley shape - or any of the other simplistic shapes that are trotted out as kitchen design principles, it would have been a lot less functional
Personally, I think kitchen design is an ideal occupation to be covered by an apprenticeship scheme for school leavers. Three years of working for a kitchen supplier and being trained about kitchens and their design, should result in some competent young kitchen designers. If only there were external training schemes available to supplement the on-the-job training. Many of the potential employers in the industry are small showrooms, for whom a kitchen design apprentice would be an affordable option.
I also think the industry is short changing existing kitchen designers. There may be a high proportion of inexperienced, poorly trained, pushy salespeople out there, designing your kitchens badly … but for every one of those, there’s probably another one – or two – experienced kitchen designers, who are passionate about their work, have learned from their experience, have searched out information and taught themselves what they need to know … and really care about providing you with a good service. They deserve to be acknowledged, rather than passed over in favour of inexperienced interior designers with qualifications.
designing kitchens - whether modern or traditional in style - is a specialised skill
this is another of my CAD illustrations - this time with much more traditional handmade furniture
In October 2010, I came up with the idea that there should be a professional association for kitchen designers – at the KBB Review’s Kitchen Conference. They were discussing the possibility of setting up an umbrella organisation to represent the whole of the KBB industry – but the panel wasn’t very enthusiastic about my idea. They thought designers should just be a part of that umbrella organisation.
I wrote about my idea then (Calling All Kitchen Designers …) but what I didn’t know, at the conference, was that a Federation of Kitchen and Bathroom Designers (FKBD) had already been set up by Garry Milligan. Garry later asked me what I’d like to see in the curriculum of a kitchen design training course … and invited me to join the FKBD. In the meantime Sean Phelan (who had commented on the original thread) had set up the iKDi (the Irish Kitchen Designers Institute).
I published my proposed kitchen design curriculum on this blog ... What a Kitchen Designer Needs to Know ... which was followed by a somewhat heated debate. I don’t think the FKBD fits the bill for a designers association. Garry wants his organisation to be concerned with the supply and fitting of kitchens too – more like the umbrella organisation originally discussed at the Kitchen Conference. I see that attitude as part of the problem … the traditional downplaying of the role of the designer. I don’t want to exclude kitchen installers and retailers from becoming kitchen designers. I just want them to take kitchen design seriously, as a separate discipline, in which they need to be trained (or certified as being already skilled).
If there was to be an umbrella organisation, to represent (and police) the industry as a whole … it would need to include the KBSA (Kitchen Bedroom and Bathroom Specialists Association – which is a trade association purely for retail showrooms) and the iKBBI (the Institute of Kitchen Bedroom and Bathroom Installers) … and there would need to be separate sections representing designers (as originally suggested), manufacturers, internet suppliers and bespoke kitchen cabinetmakers. The KBSA could probably have grown into just such an umbrella organisation, if they had had the vision to do it … but they didn’t … and the FKBD, in my opinion, has no chance of becoming that umbrella organisation now (although Garry has updated and modernised the website since the organisation first appeared).
The position has changed, though, since I first started writing on the subject. Sean Phelan has set up the BKDA – the British Kitchen Designers Association. It is an association just for kitchen designers and, in my opinion; it makes the idea of the FKBD completely redundant (although, of course, I could be proved wrong!).
I would dearly love to see kitchen designers creating their own professional organisation, proposing their own training and certification scheme and becoming independent of the big brands. It may never happen but I’d encourage any kitchen designers who might stray into this blog, to join the BKDA. Nothing can happen unless kitchen designers get up off their backsides and fight for professional recognition. It’s free (for now). There’s a forum for us to discuss these matters – and any other topics that might be of interest – and you never know where it might lead. It might just lead to an improvement in the overall quality of kitchen design in the UK …