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Kitchen Design Pro Darren Morgan: Let Hope Define Design!

An interesting an important discussion is being launched here by our kitchen design expert and regular contributor Darren Morgan. Please feel free to leave a comment below or on our Facebook page. For more information about Darren, his work as kitchen designer, writer and speaker, please contact him through his website.

I like many understand the power of hope and the bitterness of disappointment.  The everyday exchanges that make up our lives are potentially loaded with both these emotions.  But no matter how proactive we are in trying to protect our hope from disappointment, inevitably sometimes our valiant efforts are unsuccessful!

The funny thing about hope is that you only experience it when looking forward while disappointment always occurs in the present or past.  It therefore seems appropriate as we approach the end of 2011 to consider the impact of both disappointment and hope upon the kitchen industry.

It is true that one of the main disappointments of 2011 has been the inability to shake off the global debt crisis which has not only hung around like a bad smell but has decided to act like an evil hobgoblin and dig its claws deeper into an industry that is reeling from an uncertain Euro zone.  This uncertainty has stifled opportunities; well any that involves spending money, and even if corporate cash has been spent, those responsible for signing the cheque may well decide to change their mind as uncertain financial fear spreads like a disease.  There have been one or two high profile companies who have decided to rethink their investment lately with Indesit deciding to abandon visionary plans for Scholtès UK and Lechner deciding to consolidate their efforts as opposed to spreading them wider.

But sometimes the darkness of disappointment can encourage us to look for the light of hope in places and ways we never imagined.  Adaptation in the face of adversity is a basic human evolutionary principle that can be applied to our lives and our work.

Although these shock disappointments cause further uncertainty and fear they also create gaps and market opportunities for other brands.

Because of wider economic pressures and disappointments the kitchen industry is now undergoing a pubescent change.  Gone are the good old days where companies could have it how they liked, acting like spoiled kids who didn’t need to adapt or change.  The kitchen industry is currently undergoing a period of introverted refection and beginning to appreciate core values which will make it stronger in the future.  And this new found maturity is certainly offering hope.

With less money around in the economy the kitchen industry is now driven by a clear need to deliver stylish value.  And this determination brings with it better products, better service and better design.  We are currently in the process of redefining the evolutionary path of kitchen design and therefore the industry as we know it.

Technology is driving the change with manufacturers using it to increase efficiency and market share.  The products delivered by the flamboyant research and development budgets of the past are now being reconsidered, adapted and transformed in order to make them better and more cost effective.  This is particularly evident in the production of laminate materials where choices and design options have bounded forward giving designers a cost effective alternative material to work with.  The change in market conditions may also see a long term re-investment in Western industry as Eastern manufacturing regions like China may not seem as economically appealing to large scale producers.

For years kitchen designers have been seen as a consequential by-product of kitchen sales but now design is finally being accepted as a fundamental part of the process.  2011 has seen a surge in the number of associations and groups focused on the promotion of kitchen design as an important and influential discipline.  Although it is disappointing that these groups appear to have different approaches and objectives their very existence does provide hope for the future, encouraging new talent to get involved and changing the public perception of the lowly kitchen designer.

Because of the new importance given to kitchen design as a facilitator of sales software companies are investing heavily in order to make their products better.  A major hope for the future is that 3D technology will begin to redefine the interface between retailer and consumer allowing designers creativity to flourish and consumers understanding to grow.  The advancements in 3D technology will not  involve standing in a showroom wearing funny glasses either as the technology already exists to experience 3D without them.  Clients will experience kitchen design in an augmented virtual reality where they can use online resources and Apps to create photorealistic visions of their future space.  Imagine using your iPad as a window into the future, allowing you to stand in a pre-fitted architectural space and appreciate the post installed results.  Simply by moving and rotating the iPad you will be able to see what your new kitchen will look like before it is even made.  These advancements may well impact the current retail model with showrooms becoming smaller and in some cases, virtual spaces!  The reality of remote showroom accessibility and newly “qualified” kitchen designers acting as design and product translators may well be just around the corner!  Who said change wasn’t exciting!

Every cloud has a silver lining and every problem has a solution so don’t let the industry failings and disappointments of the past 12 months dampen your hopes for 2012.  If you are inventive, passionate and persistent your hopes for 2012 could deliver your best year yet!

By Darren Morgan

Florence von Pelet

Florence is a senior editor at Modenus.com. Aside from her natural passion for interiors, kitchens and baths Florence also leads the way on Modenus’ BlogTours around the world so please follow her on Twitter to get the latest information and inspiration about design trends from around the world.

  • http://www.lifeofanarchitect.com Bob Borson

    challenge in the face of adversity – isn’t that really why designers like to design? If everything could be solved by simply spending more money, I don’t think I would enjoy being an architect as much as I do. 

    Nice article, way to get the design juices charge up for today and hopefully all of 2012!

  • Nora DePalma

    Love the insights into how tablets/3D design will change the selling approach to customers. The showroom/retailing business is about to undergo a sea change, and I worry that too many people are trying to demand that it not happen (impossible) rather than adapting to the inevitable. Great post!

  • http://www.modenus.com Veronika Miller

    Not just adapting but actually embracing new ways of doing things
    because they actually work better than the tried and true of the past
    decades. What is shocking is that some of the adversity to new
    technologies and new marketing opps is almost systemic in nature, the
    belief against them becomes political and a matter of principle. Biz
    could never develop with people sticking their heads into the sand but
    suddenly there’s this paralysis, this strong belief against.

    I think it’s important that we see new tech and new marketing platforms
    as tools to enhance our existing business models and that not any single
    one of the new solutions is the only answer. There never have been
    miracles and there aren’t any now but it’s time people went back to the
    drawing board, used the slow down, create better, smarter products and
    used new solutions to market and operate more efficiently and as result
    more profitably.

    If less business can still mean bigger bottom line, then we’re doing it right.

  • http://twitter.com/dmkitchen Darren Morgan

    Hi Nora,
    Thanks for the comment.  You are so right….if primitive technology was able to send a man to the moon over 40 years ago then we should be able to accept that technology is going to change the way we design and choose kitchens, bathrooms and interiors! 
    Too much money has been invested in the tried and tested methods and those who have committed to this model are obviously reluctant or unwilling to wipe the slate clean.  The economic changes that we are currently experiencing are now forcing change and the technological flood gates are about to open with remote design and application about to overtake those moaning about the current problems!! 
    Thanks also BOB!! J

  • Anonymous

    I believe that given the acceptance and use of technology, the virtual showroom is almost here. I actually had a wonderful conversation with a gentleman last evening and this was topic part of the discussion. This new method of creating and presenting to clients opens up a new set of doors for designers as well as app makers and others. They will be able to built , change and show a virtual design, have walk throughs and various angle shots and much more. Those that accept and embrace this will create new possibilities and opportunities for themselves.

  • Anonymous

    Darren, thanks for focusing attention on the opportunities ahead despite all of the dismal  news. Plus, you do so in a way that gets the mind and the creativity soaring! I love it! It’s time for design and intelligence to take over and rid the world of mediocrity.


  • http://www.blindsfirst.com Blinds First

    These are some incredible designs!  I love the space.  So jealous!

  • euro life

    It is wonderful how real the new techniques can make kitchens and others looks. First I actually thought they are normal (photoshopped) photos. I like the first kitchen best. If you could have so much space for a kitchen… fantastic.


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