EDITOR’S COMMENT: Sides of the same coin

15 May, 14

Education can solve three main industry gripes of training, charging for design and innovation

It never fails to surprise me how fragmented the kitchen and bathroom industry can be. I’m not referring to kitchens versus bathrooms or even designers versus planners. I’ve just opened two cans of worms, right there. Quite clearly, the biggest split is between the ‘gung-ho’ and ‘it’ll never work’ brigade. It’s why on one hand the industry is still debating the need for training and should we charge for design – discussions that are still raging 17 years after I joined the industry. While, at the same time, the ‘gung-ho’ are querying ‘where is the innovation?’ and demanding quantum leaps in terms of interior styling, material uses, form and function.

But, as I see it, they are all part and parcel of the same problem. And to get the balance right, surely we need to prioritise first things first? Or am I just being too simplistic? Of course, we should already have the answers for training, charging for design and the industry moving forwards. (In the style of a certain talent show – it’s three ‘yeses’ from me). But we don’t. So instead of firing off in several different directions at once let’s focus on one at a time and you never know what we might just get the job done.

This industry needs solid foundations to secure a future career path for everyone in it, otherwise what will be the state of the industry in the next 5, 10 or 20 years? What legacy will be left for those creating kitchens and bathrooms when the ‘unqualified’ – those who have spent their man and boy existence (or girl and woman, for that matter) decide to retire? We now have that opportunity with a foundation degree, supported by the industry, and which takes into account previous experience. An education path brings a new level of professionalism to the market. It will support those already in the industry, showcasing them as a standard bearer, and giving them the confidence to charge for design and services whether their ‘unqualified’ competitors do or not. It will also encourage lifeblood into the industry, bringing new and exciting ideas and ultimately securing the future of kitchen design as a profession.

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So how many of you will enrol, becoming the vanguards of kitchen design and ultimately creating kitchen history? If you don’t it’s just another lost opportunity. The ‘it’ll never work’ brigade will be right but not for the right reasons. And those who are ‘gung-ho’ for innovation will be provided cutting-edge products but only innovative in their dumbed-down design for a deskilled workforce.

…And breathe…I’m going for a lie-down…..