Burbidge’s Ben Burbidge has spoken to kb-eye in an exclusive interview in which he shares the highest and lowest parts of his job, his best advice, and surprising personal facts.
What are the hallmarks of a Burbidge kitchen?
Our focus is premium, quality design. Our kitchen collections are a distinctive blend of expert UK craftsmanship and carefully-specified materials, combined with well-considered feature accessories that give truly unique results.
If you could have four people as dinner guests, living or dead, who would you have, what would you cook, and what would you talk about?
I would choose my favourite actress, Kristen Scott Thomas, favourite designer, Paul Smith, favourite chef, Heston Blumenthal and William Boyd my favourite author. I would ask Heston to create a menu and with all the questions I’d have for my guests I’m sure the conversation would flow.
Looking to the future, what are you most excited about, and most concerned about?
Development of new materials, methods and means of communications are very exciting to us. I do have concerns about the amount of waste businesses produce. This is why we are very mindful how we utilise and consume materials and resources, and are extremely careful to do so as sparingly as we can.
What are the key processes involved in the conception, and the execution, of a Burbidge kitchen?
Product development is on-going at Burbidge and remains a high priority for us as a business. We start by researching new trends and techniques, seeking inspiration from the broader world of UK interiors and also looking internationally within other markets.
We have a talented team of designers and product engineers operating from our manufacturing site in Coventry, working alongside our highly skilled, long-serving craftsmen. The team work creatively and continually push design boundaries to create new styles. Then we look to gather feedback from our specialist retailers. It is essential to recognise that they have regular, direct contact with customers and so their input is valuable.
Once a design is decided upon we will establish the most efficient manufacturing process, often investing in new technology to achieve the best results in production, and look to source appropriate materials with which to work.
When we launch to market a range is fully developed with its own unique appeal and detailing. We aim to be aspirational and present our kitchen designs creatively; to give ideas and inspiration for a customer’s own kitchen project.
Can you tell us a fact about yourself which will surprise us?
My first job was driving a white(ish) van!
Which parts of Burbidge’s rich heritage have been most instrumental in its success?
We’ve always had a passion for design and development, which has become one of our key strengths over the years. It means we’ve been successful in identifying and setting new trends and producing kitchens which respond to the market at the right moment.
Our legacy in wood-working gives Burbidge unrivalled expertise when it comes to manufacturing kitchens and we pride ourselves on intergenerational skill transfer throughout the business, which has only strengthened our knowledge.
What is the best part, and what is the toughest part, about your job?
The best part is seeing a plan come together, from start to finish, with all the people involved; seeing how they create and shape an idea and then bring it to market. I would say the toughest is having to make decisions that are necessary but may not always be the most popular.
How do you strike a balance between aesthetics and functionality?
Every successful kitchen design strikes a balance between design and functionality. We always suggest consumers invest time at the planning stage of their kitchen to ensure they create a well-functioning, uncluttered space which maximises every area.
We never compromise on aesthetics because, after all, customers want to include quality design details, such as curved doors, glazed units and grand open units, to give a kitchen its unique character and style. Although these exterior elements are important it is also essential to consider what is behind the doors and units to ensure they are practical. Shelving, door hung internal spice racks, larders and internal storage solutions are all useful additions so the kitchen delivers both in terms of function and display.
What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given, and who gave it to you?
Act in haste, repent at leisure. I’ve heard this a few times from friends and colleagues throughout my career but I personally believe taking the time to think things through before making and acting on a decision is a great skill to have.
Burbidge | burbidge.co.uk