Design Centre Stories

Meet the Showroom: Modern British Kitchens

Modern British Kitchens was founded in 2018, and takes cabinetmaking to new levels with imaginative design that balances looks with practicality, all backed up by great craftsmanship. All the making happens at its Hampshire workshop – but its new showroom at the Design Centre is where you can see all the artisan skills that go into each kitchen up close, as well as exploring all the clever storage ideas, beautiful materials and top-level appliances that feature in each bespoke design. Sales director Tristan de la Haye (pictured below right) explains more about the new showroom, and the work that goes into every project.

What brought Modern British Kitchens to Design Centre, Chelsea Harbour?
Chelsea Harbour is all about design and therefore it seemed like the natural habitat for our high-end, design-oriented products. We have a small showroom in our factory in Fareham, but it was important to be in London. When we were discussing where to open, the Design Centre is obviously a key focal point for interior design, and it gives credibility, straight away. My remit is to market 80% of the business to interior designers and architects, because they are usually repeat customers, rather than just homeowners, who might buy once every ten years. This showroom was ideal for us ­– and in the two or three months since we’ve been open, we’ve taken more leads than we have in the last two or three years.

I love the vibe of the Design Centre and there’s such potential for crossover with the other showrooms – for example, if people want to review hardware, then we only need to go to Turnstyle Designs, which is just opposite.

What should people expect from the showroom?
The showroom displays four examples of what we can offer: ‘Classic’, ‘Horizon’, ‘O’45’ and ‘Grid’. But it’s all a starting point: you’re picking a concept and then that will get developed into something else to create something completely unique. The design process usually takes between one and three months, and the manufacturing process between four and five months. We like to think that we’re making the antiques of the future, though – they should last 100 years!

Why should customers visit in person as opposed to looking/buying online?
Any brochure or website will always be out of date. There are at least ten products in our showroom that have yet to make it into our brochure or on to our website. This will always be the case in a company that is innovation focused.

What’s your brand’s design philosophy?
We try to stand apart: if it’s been done before by someone else, we won’t do it again. It’s not for everyone, and we know we can’t please everybody, but we find that while some people might simply like other brand’s kitchens, they fall in love with ours, and they won’t look anywhere else. We’ve also got the manufacturing power to put anything together, from a pop-up TV to a storage cabinet that’s been made to exactly fit the shape of the homeowner’s glassware, lined with bridle leather so that it’s silent when you open it.

Is there a ‘hero’ product that you feel sums up your brand, or that’s been a long-standing bestseller?
The ‘O’45’ kitchen is the one that started the business. The idea with it is that everything can be pulled out to be fully visible – whereas with most wall cabinets you might only be able to see the first four or five inches, here, you can see everything, and you can get to everything. It means storage is far more condensed: there’s no wasted fresh air.

Are there broad design trends in your industry that you are embracing?
People are much more environmentally aware; they want to know that things are sourced locally if possible. We’ve also noticed that natural timbers are very much in vogue at the moment: I find that this tends to happen in times of uncertainty. It’s not ‘safe’ as such – it’s more that people want something more down to earth and comforting, that they know will last a long time.

What craftsmanship or innovation goes into your kitchens?
Modern British is a team of architects, designers, craftsmen and kitchen experts, co-located in Hampshire with a singular mission to create extraordinarily innovative and beautiful kitchens and furniture. We have a great team of artisan cabinetmakers in our workshop, who are extremely talented and for those small areas we can’t do in-house, we use local artisans such as gilders and leatherworkers. We’re also continuously researching and developing new ranges and inserts, or new ways to use materials; the workshop is run as a place where we actively encourage our team to come up with new ideas.

Is there anything else you’d like the Design Centre’s community to know about your brand?
We’ll work anywhere in the world. And we do more than just kitchens! Modern British Kitchens also makes wardrobes, libraries, dressing rooms and studies – anything involving bespoke cabinetmaking – as well as furniture such as tables and chairs. This means that we can deliver the same quality and attention to detail throughout the whole house.

Modern British Kitchens, First Floor, Design Centre East

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