Mark Brook, creative director of McCarron & Co, reveals some trade secrets
Words Pearl Boyd
PEARL BOYD: What is it that makes McCarron & Co such a success?
Mark Brook: In a word: flexibilty. McCarron & Co is made up of a pool of amazing creative talent, drawn from the UK’s forefront kitchen manufacturing establishments. Across the board we have a real wealth of specialist knowledge. This enables us to meet the most exacting client briefs. A large percentage of our business comes from the interior design and architecture world and that is where the flexibility really makes the difference. These professionals often have a house style or a unique scheme designed solely for an individual project. Our strength is the flexibility to translate their ideas into beautifully considered projects.
PD: What kind of projects do you undertake?
MB: In our infancy we predominantly specialised in bespoke kitchens / media rooms / bedrooms and bathrooms – really, any spaces that require functional and aesthetically driven solutions. However, we now get more involved with whole house projects which span almost every room in the house, including libraries, flower rooms, wine rooms and mud rooms. We have even worked on a dog grooming room with underfloor heating and a foot bath for muddy paws.
PD: What is your background?
MB: My whole career has revolved around the kitchen industry, starting out in the commercial kitchen sector, designing huge kitchens in the hotel and restaurant world. That was a great learning curve for accurate site surveys way before the advent of laser measuring tools. Moving over to residential kitchens was a natural progression, and creatively a lot more rewarding. I cut my teeth managing kitchen showrooms for Harrods, Mark Wilkinson and Smallbone of Devizes before becoming one of the co-owners here at McCarron & Co.
PD: Where do you start when designing a bespoke project?
MB: The first step will often be a detailed brief-taking meeting with the client or interior designer/architect to get an in-depth understanding of their vision and what they would like to achieve. In order to successfully interpret the needs of the client, we listen carefully and ask lots of questions, taking into account their lifestyle and any factors which may influence the design. Pinterest, magazines and online images can often be a great starting point to provide us with inspiration and an understanding of the client’s likes and style. From this point onwards, we can begin to narrow down the best materials, finishes and functionality to suit the specific needs and ensure that the client’s vision is realised by our craftsmen.
PD: What characterises a modern, high-specification kitchen?
MB: For us, we believe that it is the execution of the installation with contemporary style furniture which truly sets it apart. For example, shadow gaps and rebates should sit perfectly – every detail lining through with no tolerance
We are also seeing a growing desire to be unique in luxury kitchen design – one-off pieces and bespoke finishes are crucial to the project. No one wants to go to a friend’s dinner party and see the exact same kitchen.
Co-ordinated finishes of taps, sinks and handles are another growing trend that we are seeing a rise in demand for – we’ve done a number of gold plated and copper taps of late. The displays in both our Chelsea and Notting Hill showrooms are great examples of this.
PD: What happens in your workshopin Wiltshire?
MB: Much the same as our designers, the majority of our craftsmen joined McCarron & Co with a wealth of kitchen knowledge, having worked predominantly for Mark Wilkinson Furniture and Smallbone of Devizes in previous years. What really drives them now is the number of unique projects we undertake, using skills such as veneering and marquetry and the making of beautiful furniture using wood with accent materials like fabrics and metals.
Likewise, with the polishing of the furniture we make use of different sheens and gloss levels that when applied to a natural or stained timber can produce a finished piece that sits perfectly in its final surroundings.
PD: And what is your own house like?
MB: I live in a unique former artist’s studio in the heart of Notting Hill. It is flooded with natural daylight through huge windows, 3.5 metre ceilings, lots of texture, accent colours and bold overscale art and sculpture. Naturally it has a beautiful hand-made kitchen.
PD: Do you improve your own space regularly?
MB: I am very fortunate to own property in Portobello, Paris and Puglia (we refer to them as ‘the three Ps’) so there is always scope for tweaking different rooms. Our Italian garden currently has priority which is good exercise and less expensive than