It starts with a love of food and cooking.
But a good kitchen designer has to do more than just love food (although I think loving food and knowing how to cook are pretty good requisites for a kitchen designer). A good kitchen designer also needs to know ergonomics, aesthetics, math, space planning, colors, appliances, ventilation, family dynamics, kosher laws, plumbing, electrical requirements, environmental impacts, finishing techniques, design trends and fads. To be really good, you need to have been around good design and bad design and be able to know the difference. You need to listen. You need to know when to say no.
Like all designers, kitchen designers need to have a vast knowledge of what is available so we can show our clients all relevant possibilities, and then help them pare their choices down to what is appropriate for their project. And what is appropriate will differ depending on their budget, their neighborhood, their family, their style. Only a bad designer repeats the same options for everyone.
I grew up in a midwestern town that revolved around kitchen appliances:
I was surrounded by good kitchens and good appliances and the love of kitchens. I hate shopping for clothes, but I love and have always loved shopping for anything kitchen. It was and is my passion. This came full-circle when I was appointed to Jenn-Air’s Design Advisory Council that is headquartered in that midwestern hometown.
Before I became a designer, I received bachelors and masters degrees from the University of Southern California. I then went to Indiana University and worked on the empirical studies that won Elinor Ostrom her Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences in 2009. I was the first Director of Research for what is now TechAmerica, and Senior Editor of Research for the first electronic newspaper in the world (Ziff-Davis’ & Esther Dyson’s Computer Industry Daily). And what I learned about computers, research and mathematics actually does come to play in kitchen design.
I moved from computers to kitchen design as soon as I knew there was such a field. I passed my CKD in the first year I was eligible. I went to work for the best designers in Palm Beach and the best cabinet companies in the world (Christopher Peacock, William Ohs, Siematic). And I take what I learned about luxury design and apply it to every kitchen I work on—whatever the budget.
Designing SoFAB demo kitchen with Chef Norman Van Aken
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