What does a typical day’s work involve for you? I spend a lot of time off-site meeting clients, but a ‘typical’ day can usually goes something like this: First coffee of the day is usually around 7am, with a quick catch up on all the news. Into the office for 8am where I catch up on emails and prepare for the day ahead. Then by 9am it is into the first meeting of the day. The majority of my meetings are spent working with our design team, I get such satisfaction out of seeing our designs come to life! After lunch I could be presenting to clients, meeting with suppliers, working on research and design for new products or creating marketing material. All helped along with several cups of coffee! I try to finish up around 6pm but more often than not I’m catching up on e-mails or design work when the office is quiet.
Is there a secret to timeless kitchen design? I tend to stick to the rule, ‘don’t over complicate’! A timeless design for me is generally effortless and flows well in both appearance and functionality. It may not have been effortless to reach that design and there will generally be lots of subtle features to bring the overall design together. We are a bespoke design and manufacturing company and our focus is based around our clients as individuals. Each client will have a slightly (or very) different view of what a timeless design is to them. It’s the process of gathering as much information from a client that pays dividend when presenting a design with our suggestion and experience added.
Do you think becoming a kitchen designer can be taught or have you got to have a natural talent for it? I was once told you can do anything you want in life - but you also have to be good at it! Like most skills I definitely feel you need to have a certain amount of natural talent in the background. It’s very hard to teach imagination or vision, which is key in our industry. Something else that may sound obvious, but I have found my passion for cooking very useful as a kitchen designer! Now, I’m not going to
make it onto MasterChef (this year anyway!) but I understand how a kitchen needs to function and that is every bit as important as the aesthetics in our designs.
What are the most challenging aspects of your role? Probably keeping all the plates spinning! My role is so varied, I’m always moving from one project to the next and this is where having a good team is paramount. One of my biggest weaknesses in the past was managing people and it’s something that I have worked very hard on in recent years. I always remember an anecdote I heard about a finance director that asked their CEO, “What happens if we invest in developing our people and then they leave us?” The CEO replied “What happens if we don’t and they stay”. When we set goals we involve every single person in the company, everyone knows where we are heading and we can all pull in the same direction to get there.
Out of all the projects you have worked on over the years has there been one in particular that has stood out from the rest? Every time we push a boundary or try something new, these are the projects that stay with me and give me huge satisfaction. But one in particular that has stood out for me is a project from a while back, I was about 26 at the time and it was an amazing renovation of an old farmhouse. At the time it was the most expensive project I had sole responsibility for and I remember the hours upon hours I spent re-working and improving the design. I was back and forward to our workshop almost hourly making sure everything was going to plan, and I will never forget my first visit to site to see it being installed. Working on that one project gave me so much confidence going forward and really drove my ambition for our company.
As a long established brand, how do you keep up to date and informed about the latest developments in the industry? This industry evolves so fast, not only with changing styles and trends in kitchen finishes but new technology is always emerging so you need to stay current or you will be left behind very quickly! One of the most important assets for our company is the strong relationships we have built with our suppliers. These relationships have allowed us to travel to England, Italy, Austria and Germany to get a sneak peek at what will be coming onto the market in the future and allow us to be ahead of the game. The biggest advantage of being a long established brand is that rather than searching, more often than not we find a lot of the latest developments come to us.
Who has been your biggest inspiration in your life? I try to draw inspiration from everywhere, anyone I feel is ‘successful’ in their field, but my biggest inspiration is closer to home. My dad started this company from the ground up about 35 years ago and he instilled the passion and work ethic I have today. Although he has handed the reigns over to my brother Declan and I, he still holds a crucial role within the company. If I can achieve the same level of success and growth that he has in his career, I will consider myself very fortunate.