08 Aug “The materials shape your idea.” – Erik Spiekermann
The materials we use often influence the detail of our designs. Each of our luxury kitchens is uniquely designed with superior materials in mind because, after all, a kitchen should not only boast incredible functionality, it should also be a work of art!
Our team’s passion for magnificent materials stems from the company’s Founder, Stephen Kennedy, who loves nothing more than discovering superlative materials to use in his designs.
Let’s find out more about the materials he loves and why he uses them:
Are there any core materials that you use in every design?
Yes, although we design and build each kitchen individually, there are inevitably certain elements common to most kitchens. In fact, it was how the business was named as we use a lot of oak for our cabinets and stone for our worktops, hence ‘Oakstone’.
We are incredibly fussy about the materials we use and we always use the highest quality ‘A’ grade timbers and sheet materials that are FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) accredited.
I have a rule that I won’t allow chipboard into the workshop, so don’t expect to find any of that in an Oakstone kitchen!
How did you source your materials and suppliers initially?
Having a woodworking background and generally being a stickler for quality materials, when I first established Oakstone Designs in 2004, I did a lot of research into companies in the North East that supplied the core materials for my work – quality hardwoods, sheet materials, lacquers, hardware etc.
I gradually developed good working relationships with those that I thought shared that same ethos that I have to build the best by using the best.
Have you been using the same suppliers for a long time?
I truly believe that working on a relationship yields the best results and so I am a very loyal customer to my suppliers, but I do expect the same in return – I will give them my best and I expect their best in return.
Do you have a loyalty to certain materials when designing a kitchen?
We start each design as a completely blank canvas and so the material palette for each job is endless and the more challenging a project, the better as we get to really illustrate that we are truly bespoke and open minded in our designs.
Having said that, we do use a lot of oak as it is a wonderful material and so versatile, however, it is not always the most appropriate material for each job.
Material selection is a key skill of being a cabinet maker and our intention is to always use the most appropriate material for each element of each job.
Are your suppliers local or international?
We try wherever possible to buy local and have really great relationships with some fantastic North East companies. Some of the best suppliers in Europe are either based in the North East or have major depots here! For instance, we are incredibly lucky to have a major depot of one of the world’s leading suppliers of solid surface materials, such as granite, Silestone and Dekton, based in Darlington itself. Not to mention one of Europe’s largest and most progressive importers and processors of solid surfaces, F. Jones Cleveland, is also local company, which is based just a few miles away in Middlesbrough.
What are the most important factors when choosing your materials?
Quality. We always buy on quality and work hard to get the best prices, but it is the quality that is key. I am not interested in building low quality kitchens at cheap prices, I am interested in building the best kitchens at the right price.
Is there a process you go through to pick new suppliers or materials?
We have built a very strong network of trusted suppliers over the years and have good relationships with them, so we feel very confident in our capacity to deliver on any brief that we accept.
Part of our passion is to always keep up to date with the best of the newest materials that are being developed or sourced and this is always a very exciting part of our work.
We take a completely open-minded approach to new materials and then apply our own scrutiny process to them before making a decision on their appropriateness for our work.
How do you decide if a material is of the right quality to be used by Oakstone?
We test it to destruction!
Do you consider sustainability or environmental wellbeing when choosing your materials or suppliers?
Absolutely. We always specify FSC timber and will only buy from accredited suppliers.
Do clients ever make special requests regarding materials?
Yes, for instance, just recently we have completed a kitchen with shattered glass back-splashes, which are lit with LED’s from the edges – it looks really cool, very unusual!