“If kitchen designers do not conduct themselves as consultants, their customers will end up discussing only prices and discounts with them. And if they want to be true consultants, designers should be able to ask the right questions to their customers,” says noted kitchen designer Gopal Dwivedi during his video conversation with Deepak, where he speaks at length about his book Modular Kitchen Planning & Designing Guide.
Dwivedi has been in the field of designing, training and marketing within the kitchen industry for the past 16 years, and is advocating the consultative approach to kitchen design through his book.
Modular Kitchen Planning and Designing Guide is out and out a syllabus for any professional involved with the kitchen industry.
According to Dwivedi, there’s a big difference between being a kitchen designer and a consultant. A kitchen designer typically remains concerned with the designing side of the business, and may be faced with a situation where the customer does not like the designs and walks away. A consultant on the other hand conducts himself as an advisor, who asks simple but important questions about the customer’s family, lifestyle, purpose, diet preferences etc. The response to these questions ensures that no false assumptions are made, and the final proposal is exactly in line with the customer’s needs.
“Designers should design for the customer and not try to impose their own likes and preferences. Sometimes they have to put aside their designing cap and get into the shoes of the customer.”
In his book, available in English and Hindi, he has listed out 20 questions that kitchen designers and sellers should ask their customers, before they even start making a proposal. What is the purpose of your kitchen – is it for self, rent, or a weekend home? Are you left or right-handed? Do you buy groceries weekly, monthly or yearly? The answer to these and other questions can completely change the design and budget of the proposed kitchen. “Often the customer will be surprised when such questions are asked but will soon realise their importance for his project.”
The book is replete with diagrams, measurements, component specifications, workflow and anthropometry basics, checklists and situational descriptions. It can be ordered on amazon.in for Rs 959. According to Dwivedi, this is the first time ever that a comprehensive book has been compiled for the Indian customer and industry.
Dwivedi also proposes the theory of ‘6Ps of designing a kitchen space’, where the six Ps stand for purpose, place, placement, people, practices, and personalise. He advises that by structuring the consultation around the 6Ps, it is possible to significantly increase the conversion rate in today’s highly competitive business.
According to him, the book will help the Rs 6,000 crore kitchen industry bring all professionals on the same page regarding the fundamentals of manufacturing, materials, planning and designing. This will help organisations make their recruitment process much more cost-effective, as the training period can be reduced by as much as 15 days. “Collectively that would amount to a huge saving at the industry level.”
The 240-page book has been divided into three sections – Fundamentals, Planning, Designing. According to Dwivedi, this is the ladder of knowledge, and designing comes right at the top. “Only when the fundamentals are clear should the designer get into kitchen planning, and only after that should he start the designing process.”
Dwivedi, who considers himself a trainer at heart, has had successful stints with Sleek, H&R Johnson and Evok in their kitchen businesses. In 2016 he joined tech-based interior design firm Livspace, where he heads a team of 2,200 full time and freelance designers. He has been the recipient of Kitchen Professional of the Year award at India Kitchen Congress in 2014 and 2019.