Designer published its first ever issue 15 years ago this month. Editor Martin Allen-Smith looks back over a time that has seen some big changes for the magazine and the market it serves, and explains how the magazine has become one of the UK’s most respected interiors trade publications
They say a year is a long-time in politics, but things are pretty fast-paced for those in the kitchen and bathroom sector too. In the decade and a half that Designer Kitchen & Bathroom has been bringing its readers a monthly fix of design ideas and inspiration, the industry has experienced economic ups and downs, seen exciting new brands burst onto the scene and others disappear forever, and followed developments as whole new product categories and lifestyle trends have emerged.
But what’s most exciting is that perhaps what has changed most during the time Designer has been around is the consumer. Design – and an understanding and appreciation of good design – is perhaps more prominent in the prospective buyers mind now than it has ever been for large swathes of the interiors market and customers have been truly switched on to the importance of getting the kitchen and bathroom right in any home.
Firstly, it was the interior design TV shows that stirred up modern time interest in home design for the masses. Then the property boom brought into sharp focus the impact that a great kitchen or bathroom could have on market prices for houses.
Today, the general consumer position (such as it is possible to consider one in such a broad and diverse marketplace) has evolved to a rather more well-rounded position. It is now more about making the house a home, and thankfully for that particular objective, there are plenty of highly skilled K&B designers out there able to help homeowners achieve their ideal solution.
Designer’s part in all of this may be slight in the big scheme of things, but nonetheless, the magazine has without doubt helped to develop and hopefully inspire design ideas and creative thinking among the K&B professionals who are serious about design.
The magazine’s accessible and attractive style has also helped to act as a bridge for other related professionals – architects and developers in particular – to gain a greater understanding of the K&B market and its possibilities.
The magazine began life as The Kitchen Designer in January 2000. It was joined by sister publication The Bathroom Designer in 2001 before the two were merged in 2003.
Since then, the magazine has successfully differentiated itself from other publications in a crowded K&B magazine marketplace. The graphic design of the magazine has always been a key element and there have been several redesigns during the magazine’s life, overseen variously by Sharon Thornhill, Jeff Cooper, and now current Art Director Lee Thomas.
The magazine is in the rare position of only having had two editors since launch – Grahame Morrison who worked with founding publisher Kevin John on the initial concept, and myself, who joined the magazine back in September 2007.
Editorially, the brief has always been to deliver inspiring content for anyone involved with kitchen and bathroom design. It’s rarely easy, but always rewarding to cover a fast-paced and highly diverse industry such as this and it is a challenge that Designer continues to embrace today as we embark on the next stage of our development.
The magazine became part of the Pro Publishing portfolio in 2012 and has since gone from strength to strength, gaining hugely from sharing resources with consumer title Utopia Kitchen & Bathroom, further expanding the hugely successful Designer Kitchen & Bathroom Awards, and developing a host of innovative ideas for the magazine’s presence online and across social media.
January 2015 sees the launch of the magazine’s latest re-design. We’ve switched to a more compact size, but retained the matt paper that so many readers tell us they love.
The new look has been carefully conceived to enable us to convey more information and bold layouts that are flexible enough to deliver the very broad range of features that we plan to bring to you over the months ahead.
It is an exciting time for Designer and we look forward to working with all of our supporters and contacts throughout the industry to continue to enhance what we do – and ensure that we remain the definitive design resource for the K&B industry for the next 15 years and beyond.
Designer Kitchen & Bathroom / designerkbmag.co.uk