Last week was the Kitchen, Bedroom, Bathroom Retail & Design conference in the NEC in Birmingham.  As a respected veteran in the world of bespoke kitchen design & productionRichard Edmondson was interviewed for an article in the Show issue magazine to be given to the 10,000 people going to the conference. We thought you would be interested in his opinions too.

Q    How do you think the kitchen retail market is changing?

Clients are ever more demanding in all aspects of our work – that enables us to rise to the challenge and push ourselves further to meet their wishes. After 35 years I’m still learning and developing as a professional. There are not many lines of work you can say that about. I love it.

Full project management is a demand that often crops up.

The preliminary building works, every aspect of the design for each scheme, the flooring choices and the execution, appliances, furniture, work surfaces, wall finishes for example. All under one umbrella. The in-depth technical knowledge the craftsman professionalrequires is growing by the day  – from fridge capacities to cooking methods, wine storage to building regulations. It is challenging, it seems inevitable that other professionals have to be involved. Quotations are correspondingly becoming more complicated to compile. We have seen the project management team spend up to four hours signing off and confirming every detail. This being done over a couple of meetings just because it is too much to take in in one meeting.

 Q: What factors are causing or effecting that change? What are the biggest issues that will determine the sector’s future?

Today’s better-educated client has a host of information at their fingertips. I think it is a mixture of TV programme on home improvement, social media increasing the awareness of what is available, newspaper and magazine articles, competition between architects and information put forward by our own industry.

Our clients realise that coordinating a number of trades is not for them and is better done by one company with a depth of experience and a wealth of tried and tested sub-contractors and in-house personnel.

We have heard of some awful experiences and have seen some completed houses which are, firstly, dull and, secondly, poorly finished. Two examples come to mind; one where a stone floor was laid without thought to any future movement and the cracks were so bad it had to be relaid impacting on the furniture that had been fitted and another where the lighting seemed to have nothing to do with the kitchen. Traditional lights had been used in a contemporary space, placed in a manner that defied logic without thought to what light would be needed and when.

Q. If you extrapolate this change, what do you think the possible outcomes may be?

The kitchen designer needs to be pro-active, better informed and supported. Sometimes the lighting, for example, is pretty straightforward and budget can be a determining factor. In this instance a competent project manager should be able to determine a design for the lighting and how they need to be controlled.

A better approach would be to add a lighting specialist to the mix – someone who can work with an interior designer and a kitchen designer to find exactly the right wall lights, pendants down lights, concealed lights et al for the project along with the ability to create different mood settings for different uses.

That aspect is so important in today’s kitchen where dining, homework and cooking all have to be taken into account. The 21st century kitchen is a multi-purpose space for all the family – not simply an area in which to cook.

The results can be amazing and this growing desire and awareness seen in our client base means every detail is more carefully thought through prior to the work being started. This is not to say there are not changes as each project advances but they are relatively minor – a change in a wall colour or in a worktop material for example. These small tweaks can then be accommodated without cost because there is time to make the changes without any pressure.

Q: If those outcomes are negative, what needs to be done to stop them?

It’s not a negative for me. Challenging, yes. Interesting, yes. Stimulating, yes. Perhaps the largest difficulty is explaining how increasingly complex demands increases cost. The kitchen designer needs to be open and explain this from an early stage to avoid any later embarrassment. Most people want to know exactly what the cost is from as early as possible in any project.

Q:  If those outcomes are positive, what can be done to make the most of them?

For me it is about training and communication. On the cooking front Gaggenau, Miele and Wolf all offer excellent training and support and designers are able to advise at length on the many options available and provide clients with hands on cooking experience to enable an educated decision to be made on the mix of appliances.

We are excited to announce our next Gaggenau cooking demonstration Event in the Edmondson Interiors showroom, on Thursday 14th April 2016.

We have had clients go as far as Verona in Italy to choose a work surface material and we regularly work with interior designers to ensure clients have the widest choice of components to choose from. This means that projects are looking increasingly individual and every detail adds to the whole. A window fitting, a door handle, a dining table, the television size, the outside lighting, everything becomes the responsibility of the kitchen designer and needs to be signed off responsibly. 

Q:   What do these changes and issues mean for retailers?

The companies that respond to the demand who deliver on all these fronts build strong relationships with their clients. Repeat business is guaranteed, friends of clients come in on a regular basis, Facebook and social media spreads the word further. Clients return for projects to be done in other areas of their homes and often many years later. That’s very satisfying for me as a business owner.

Q:  What do these changes and issues mean for the manufacturers?

We think that manufacturers will need to become less prescriptive. Offer wider and more personal choices and think a bit deeper on how this can best be done. This is not easy, being able to produce more choice comes at a price. Their workforce needs to be flexible and multi-skilled to respond to concepts and ideas from kitchen designers. In a smaller company like Edmondson Interiors this is easier to achieve with close and strong links between the designer and the maker. A detailed drawing and a conversation can lead quickly to a new individual strong solution.

Q      What do these changes and issues mean for consumers? 

Clients naturally have to be the initial catalyst. A photo on Houzz,  A Pinterest board or a picture or just a well voiced idea kicks off the design but the kitchen designer has to build on this initial concept. Consumers can and should, as they expect, enjoy the process and be utterly thrilled at the end result.

Too many people accept a compromise but this is changing and rightly so. How many kitchen designers have taken a pride in their efforts just to see a white plastic front used to switch plates and double socket fronts? If they are responsible for everything then from Day 1 the design is gradually worked up to finish with a very happy client. And a happy client makes a happy workshop.


Richard Edmondson

Founder of Edmondonson Interiors