Utopia    Guest Blog 18 Aug 2015

German Design and Manufacturing: Get more for your money with German kitchen design


The best place to find inspiration for a new kitchen is undoubtedly a glossy magazine. With kitchen eye candy aplenty, we can spot our must-have kitchen in an instant. And then we realise that it has an eye wateringly high price but that’s okay because we like to aspire. Apparently. And aspiration is what we do well. We aspire to things that we cannot afford and accept lesser standards because that’s all we can afford. Unless, of course, you know anything about German design.

It could be argued that the German passion for contemporary high quality and affordable design has its roots in the VW Beetle, a car that not only transformed the automobile industry but public expectation for engineering prowess, design innovation and affordability – all in equal measure.

It may seem like a strange connection but in the early days cars were luxury items afforded by the wealthiest members of society. The average person had to make do with a motorbike – a pretty unsatisfactory solution if you had a family. And so began a series of projects to design and produce the ‘people’s car’ – an affordable vehicle that gave the man in the street the same opportunity to own a vehicle as the elite.

In cutting a long story short – the VW Beetle was born, not by cost cutting or lack of consideration but designed by a man more commonly associated with high-end race cars, Ferdinand Porsche. The very best design with a price tag affordable to all. And this little car set an expectation that all manufacturing, no matter the product, should be the best it can be. Award-winning designs should not be the preserve of the wealthiest.

The very best design with a price tag affordable to all may be great if you live in Germany but here in the UK we have a different mentality. We are extraordinarily uncomfortable about talking price and still adhere to that old adage, ‘that if you have to ask the price, then you can’t afford it’. In a bid to avoid the humiliation of not being able to afford it, we side-step the beautiful kitchen showroom and head to large DIY stores known as ‘the sheds’. And we are happy, we find something that looks a little like our dream kitchen and we don’t pay too much. If we got really lucky, we hit the sale and got 40% off the RRP. We do so because our expectations are too low and our fear of talking money is too great, and the one thing cheap brands do well, is tapping into our fears. They know you want contemporary design and that you’re worried about asking the price. They market you a solution to your problem.

We pick from perfect displays not considering that our very unique design, created just for us by a charming, patient lady called Janet – will simply come out of a series of mass produced boxes, and be put together with a screwdriver, all because we still believe that if we have to ask the price, we probably cannot afford it. Here is the rub – you can afford it. You just need to change the way you think and where you look, which takes us back to Germany and the ethos that good design should be available to all.

Schüller and Next125 win awards for innovative designs that stand up equally against some of the most expensive German brands. They manufacture kitchens with the highest levels of quality in the market and despite this, you can buy a Schüller kitchen for as little as £3,500 (without appliances).

Planning a kitchen is so much more than getting the look that you want. When you work with a Schüller or Next125 retailer, you have a design that is created specifically for you, your style, your budget, your lifestyle and it’s not even manufactured until the design is perfect. The one thing that remains consistent is the quality of the kitchen that you will have installed.

When you choose a range for a kitchen that costs you £3,500, it will be exactly the same cabinet that is used for a more extravagant design, one that may cost you £20,000.  The price difference is in selecting options that work within your budget. A high-gloss lacquer finish will look as fabulous as more expensive glass fronts but keep you within budget. An innovative roller shutter will be more affordable than flush glass shutters activated by a motion sensor, but no less desirable. What Schüller do so well is create affordable options that do not compromise on quality. Every kitchen is manufactured to individual order. Every cabinet is rigid, every door front sprayed from the same paint batch and checked by hand. The ethos is consistent throughout – all manufacturing should be the best it can be and that award winning designs should be affordable to all.