In the last few years, Humphrey Munson has leapt to the forefront of the British kitchen industry with their contemporary take on classic English design. Eschewing the usual kitchen design company format with sales teams and display-only showrooms, Humphrey Munson have blazed a trail with their design led approach and live kitchen spaces at their showrooms in St. Albans, Hertfordshire and Felsted, Essex, so much so that walking into one of their showrooms feels like walking into a real home! We caught up with Peter Humphrey, Design Director, and Louisa Blackmore, Creative Director to find out more…
How did Humphrey Munson begin? Peter: I started the company back in 1995 after years of honing my trade in cabinet making. I often get asked about the name Humphrey Munson – it comes from my surname Humphrey, and Joseph Munson – my great-great-grandfather who was a master cabinetmaker in the late 1800s in the East End of London. It’s my passion for traditional joinery techniques that underpin everything we do and although I love our heritage in this field, we love to innovate and evolve as a company, especially in the workshop.
What do your roles encompass? Peter: I oversee every single project and we have trained every member of our design team in our methods of kitchen design. My love of Georgian architecture has really helped to inform the design values so although each project is very different and personal to the client, you’ll notice the same themes of symmetry, simplicity and proportion throughout. Louisa: My job is about aligning the strategic direction of the business with the creative direction – I oversee everything from a client’s point of view and I’ll typically be directly involved with clients at the beginning and the end of the projects.
Tell us about your showroom experience? Louisa: When we’re designing spaces for clients we always look at the functionality of the space first so it makes sense to us to really use the kitchens at our showrooms in St. Albans and Felsted. Every single kitchen is fully live and we regularly try out new recipes that we can share with our clients on the blog.
We love to cook so it makes sense to us that we use the spaces like our clients use the spaces – everything from sitting at the island with a cup of coffee and reading emails, to cooking lunch for everyone. We operate an appointment only system so that when we have clients visiting, they have our full attention and we can walk through the kitchen design as well as the appliances and accessories.
Peter: It’s really important to me, and to the company as a whole, that clients receive a personal service from us. It’s great for us to welcome clients into our showrooms and be able to show them all the different elements that make up a really fantastic kitchen project but we love to keep things evolving and update our kitchens. Our St. Albans showroom has just re-opened after a period of renovation and it’s been wonderful seeing the reactions from existing and new clients to the spaces there.
How do the home visits work after the projects are installed? Louisa: After the project is formally signed off by the project management team, we offer clients a complimentary home visit where I visit the project and go over all the appliances and accessories and the cleaning and maintenance of the kitchen. We are all about future- proo ng so that our kitchens will look as good in 10, 15, 20 years time as they do now – maintenance is minimal but we like to have that time with clients to go over all
the little tips and tricks we use in our own kitchens. If clients have speci ed something they haven’t used before, for example, a Wolf range cooker or a Miele steam oven, it can be really useful to go over all the key functions of the appliance – it’s always easier to have an in-person demonstration than reading an instruction manual!
What is your kitchen like at home? Peter: My kitchen at home is designed to reflect the heritage of the house – an old English cottage. I have used the ‘Nickleby’ cabinetry from Humphrey Munson as the classic English design, which suits the country location and the curved corners help to soften the edges. All the appliances are integrated which give symmetry and creates a calm and collected feel to the space. The focal point is the Lacanche range cooker housed in a false chimney with countertop cupboards either side, so cooking appliances are always on hand and there is storage space above for crockery and tableware.
Do you have any tips for readers embarking on a new kitchen project? Peter: My top tip when planning your own kitchen is to think about the flow between the different zones and about how you want to cook, dine and socialise in the space, this way the functionality informs the design decisions you make. I love to cook so designing my kitchen in a u-shape gives me plenty of prep space with the range cooker easily accessible from both sides. Having the table in the kitchen creates an informal dining area which makes it a sociable space and incorporating an antique effect mirror splashback behind a range cooker is a great way of bouncing light across the room, but I also love the fact it means I can see what’s going on behind me when I’m cooking.Humphrey Munson | humphreymunson.co.uk