Voices That Should be Heeded

The people who pass through the kitchens I design will probably never know that I touched their lives. They won't silently thank me every time they enter, but if my imagination can create something that quiets their being or brightens their day, eases their tasks or removes weight from their burden, then I have enriched their lives, and that is gratitude enough."

Jeannette S. Hickok

They are the voices of tomorrow, reminding us about things we should be mindful of today.

They're the voices of youth, full of energy and passion and high aspiration . . . the voices of dreamers who've never had the chance to become jaded, who've never been beaten down by the grinding demands of the workplace or beaten up in ugly confrontations with monster clients.

They're idealistic, optimistic and envision only the brightest of possibilities. They see the kitchen and bath industry with unfettered clarity, and are drawn to it for reasons that go far beyond whatever financial promise it holds.

They're the voices that will shape the kitchen and bath industry in the years to come.

And they have something important to say.

The voices are those of the college students who took part in the 2004 "Student Designer Scholarship" program, sponsored by Kitchen & Bath Design News in cooperation with the NKBA (see story Page 74). Three students, each enrolled at an NKBA-endorsed college, were awarded scholarships at last month's Kitchen/ Bath Industry Show.

The 2004 competition challenged design students to write an essay on the topic: "What is it about the kitchen and bath profession that has made you select it as your future career?"

Their answers to that question should serve as a vivid reminder of why this industry is so
special, and how it should be seen by everyone privileged to be a part of it.

The students wrote about being totally engaged and absorbed by the work the kitchen and bath industry offered, about how excited they are by their interaction with clients, about how they view working in this industry as an opportunity to transform products and ideas into creative designs that meet clients' needs and give expression to their lifestyles.

They wrote, with keen insight, about how they understand the role of the home as a place to love and play and nurture and bond and how they want to design kitchens in which people can feel good about themselves, and where people want to come together and spend time with each other, and baths where people can find soothing comfort from life's stresses.

They wrote about how kitchen and bath design challenges them to take risks, and to explore the frontiers of their imagination, and about how good design really does make a difference how it can make day-to-day living simpler and more joyful, how it can eliminate obstacles and make a space feel comfortable and warm and relaxing.

They wrote about being drawn to the kitchen and bath industry by fond and lasting memories forged in the homes of their childhood, during family celebrations, on quiet weekends cooking with their parents and grandparents and how they want to help create those kind of memories for others.

It's easy, in the day-to-day crush of business, to forget some of these things, even if we all felt them a long time ago, even if we all still feel them, deep down inside.

It's easy to forget about always serving the client first. About being open to new ideas. About understanding the role that kitchens and baths play in today's homes. About being
passionate and charged by what you do for a living each day.

It's easy, too, to forget why all of us are so lucky to be part of this business, and why we should feel grateful and humbled and honored to be allowed to shape peoples' homes, and their lives, as we do.

The students entering our industry remind us of all this. Through their insights and their
wisdom and their vision, they remind us of why we should feel good about who we are and what we do for a living, and why, despite any concerns we may have, we're really in very good hands down the road.

Young people have a way of reminding us of those kinds of things. They always have. All we ever have to do is listen to what they have to say, and remember it when we can.