A Bespoke Kitchen Design, Handmade in Aberdeen
I recently had the pleasure of completing a set of visualisations for a local cabinetmaker in Aberdeenshire, who designs beautiful kitchens, interiors and furniture using locally sourced hardwoods. Lethenty Cabinetmakers (website here), which has been around since 1980 and flourishing ever since, is a real old-school joinery of the type I didn't actually know existed in Aberdeen! As well as sourcing, cutting and milling their own hardwoods from a collection of local estates with whom they have built up working relationships, Graeme and his team also season, air dry, prepare and finish their work in-house, so every aspect of the design is under the control of the client, with an expert hand to guide things in the right direction.
On my first visit to the workshop just outside Inverurie, I was amazed to see so many things going on under the same roof- from the finishing rooms for custom paint jobs and spraying, to the large assembly areas where the bulk of the units are manufactured and dry fitted prior to being completed, the Mill building, rebuilt following a severe fire in 2016 seemed like a paradise for any joiner, cabinetmaker, or like myself, passionate amateur woodworker.
How to Bring a Kitchen to Life
Bringing a design to life during the design phase is really important, as there are so many cases where the client struggles to appreciate exactly what they are getting, and how the design will look when complete- so many times I have heard people saying things like 'I wasn't happy with how this bit came out', or 'If only I understood how it would be I'd have changed this part', and the annoying thing is that this is entirely avoidable!
Reading plans and architectural drawings is not something everyone is familiar with, and even as someone who is pretty conversant with the language of design, trying to bring together hundreds of different elements and materials and try and picture the whole thing together is too much for my own brain to handle- invariably I always miss out some small but quite significant aspect, like the lighting, the combination of materials or the scale of something.
As Graeme's kitchen design for his client was pretty complex, and involved lots of bespoke elements, we decided the best way to translate his ideas into a readable form for the client was to create a few visuals of the kitchen as it would appear when finished.
An Overall Picture
The first visual I created was one which shows the overall design, as you would see it looking in from the lounge. From Left to Right we have the kitchen area, with built in iroko shelving, a large integral fridge/freezer unit with microwave oven, a belfast sink with wall mounted storage cabinets and shelving, a large Aga range with over mantle, and an island. To the right is a custom seating area which Graeme is building with the client's own elm, source from several trees felled on his ground. The table is also a custom design, and features a spindled base- plenty of room for all the family to gather!
As with many of Lethenty's designs, the style is traditional and classic, but the lively grains of the elm and richness of the iroko give it some visual excitement. The cabinets and units are finished in a bespoke colour chosen by the client, and of course the purpose of the visualisation is to show how these finishes look together, and see if they are complementary- if that alone changes your mind then I would say it has already been worth visualising it! Part of the reason, dull though it may sound, is to make the changes and alterations on screen, not in real life- they are much cheaper this way!
Aga and Over Mantle
Before meeting Graeme and having a tour of the workshop, I never actually knew what an 'over mantle' was!
Turns out it is that nice piece of cabinetry above the Aga, which is reminiscent of an ecclesiastical detail, and gives the whole thing a much grander appearance- not only that, it serves a really useful function, by providing small storage areas at either side (for lighters, spices, nick-nacks) as well as concealing the extractor fan, and providing task lighting down to the cooking area.
Speaking of lighting, Graeme also had a really nice idea of incorporating various task-lighting into the design of this kitchen, as well as focal lighting under the small shelves to the left- the way things are going, I think all of this calls for a nice night-time shot, to show exactly how the proposals will look on a cosy winter's evening:
Night Time (Lighting) shot
By showing exactly the same view in both day and night time it makes it really easy for everyone to picture exactly how the lighting is going to be integrated into the design, and what a difference it will make to the appearance. Unfortunately many designers overlook the power of well considered lighting- it can be used to literally transform the character of a space if done well, and also makes the using the space easy and pleasurable- and I'm delighted to say Graeme is not one of those people! There is task lighting, feature lighting, highlight lighting and as it has all been designed in from the start it is seamless and yet does what it needs to.
The 'Work Zone'
Many people are familiar with the 'work triangle' layout used in kitchen design- basically the aim is to make the flow between the fridge freezer, the oven and the sink work well- getting the food, washing and preparing it, and cooking it should be easy and quick to do, and this kitchen certainly does that- the grand element to the left integrates the fridge freezer, larder cupboards and the microwave oven together in a way which looks grand, and the sink, Aga and associated work surfaces are well laid out with plenty of room to get that delicious steak or salad ready to serve!
Bespoke Seating Booth- Using the Client's Own Elm
This was a really unique part of the project- not the least because it uses the client's own elm, sourced from some trees he felled himself! Does it get any more personal than that for a furniture maker?
As the Elm needs around a year to acclimatise and dry before being milled for manufacture, this part of the design is somewhat far off, but the visualisations here were most instrumental in developing the design, and helping picture how it could be improved.
Initially Graeme had a sketch design of this area, along with the overall scale and the seating layout, but seeing the visuals helped explore some other ways to look at it- the extended worktop behind the seats was formerly carried on at the same height as the existing iroko top, but seeing how it looked Graeme came up with the idea of raising the chair backs higher up, to give more back support and a more graceful proportion that is reminiscent of Charles Rennie Mackintosh chairs. There was also the idea of incorporating a small drawer into the area beneath the chairs to give extra storage, and the visuals were easily amended to show how this could look...
See the before and after below:
Also, if you have't come across Lethenty Cabinetmakers' page, you should definitely check them out for some truly stunning kitchen and furniture projects: Lethenty Mill Website
Graeme and the team have also been shortlisted for a Trades award this year, under the Home/Building Improvement, Interiors category, so you are bound to see and hear a lot more of them over the following months!
Until next time,
Are you struggling to understand or make decisions on a complex project like an extension, engineering project or product? With any project in development, there are so many factors to consider and sometimes there is no better way than to have your idea in front of you, where you can see it, and understand better how it will look in reality. 3D Visualisations are an excellent tool to achieve this, and this blog will look at a recent project I undertook to visualise a contemporary home extension to a granite semi-detached in Aberdeen.
This stunning modern design by local design firm AK Architecture was so unique that it required a visualisation to show off exactly how the spaces would flow!
What do I Need to Visualise your Idea?
For this project, I simply worked from a set of planning drawings prepared by the architect, along with a few reference photographs of the existing building and site. However I can work from any materials provided and pride myself on understanding exactly what the client wants to get out of a visualisation. Sometimes a single image can speak a thousand words, and in certain cases that's all that is required. In other instances it makes more sense to Some other things I can work from:
Following a brief meeting to decide how the architect wanted to portray the style of the building and its approximate finishes, I set to work creating a detailed 3D model of the space and details, after which I added accurate textures, lighting, furniture, trim details and planting. Here's how some of the interior spaces will look once complete:
Kitchen: The kitchen, living and dining areas are open plan but given a subtle separation by the varied ceiling heights and use of windows / ceiling lights to place natural lighting where required. The seating area is intended to feel open and inviting; the dining area encourages intimate conversations and meals
Overall View: This visual shows how the new extension will complement the style of the older granite building, really opening it up and creating a better interaction with the garden.
Evening Light: The interior lighting of the space can make a great difference, and can completely transform the ambience of a space- here I show one option for a subtle style of lighting to provide distinct pools at key areas
Kitchen Details: The kitchen, as the main feature of the new extension, will be finished in high quality materials with a crisp modern style. The large island mediates between the work zone of the kitchen and the more informal living area
Kitchen Ceiling: This visual captures the kitchen ceiling, which slopes up at an angle to give a feeling of greater height, and allows more natural light to spill against the walls and into the space.
Plans: The set of plans which I was working from to bring this project to life
This project was a lot of fun to capture, and I really enjoyed showing how a crisp modern space can work well in conjunction with an older and more characterful one without feeling jarring or out of place. If I had to put the success of this project down to a few key points:
Like, Share, Enjoy, and (hopefully) Return!
Feel free to like and share this blog if you enjoyed it, and if you have any questions or want to find out more about this or another project I would love to hear from you, so please don't hesitate to get in touch,
Until next time....
Here's the second part of my in depth look at building an ROV CAD model from start to finish, including texturing, lighting, setup and final rendering. This section will look at the process involved in creating a high detail model of the robot pincer-arm used to collect samples and grab items.
We'll start at the top of the arm, and work downwards, ending up with a complete model of the unit:
... and finally ...
... Applying some textures and lighting, and rendering out the scene we have at last a realistic robotic arm, eventually to be incorporated into the overall model:
Next week we will continue the journey with the development of the other arm:
As promised, welcome to the first of what I hope will be many in-depth examples of how 3D animation and imagery actually works, and how it can be useful for you!
Part 1 of this project will look at the creation of the basic frame of the ROV, and show the elements involved in making a detailed computer model.
Working from photographic reference, I started off by getting the overall scale and proportion correct- of course, if working from drawings then this can be done right down to the smallest detail, as the frames for ROVs are varied and often tailored to the application.
As I was modelling a working-class ROV, the frame is particularly sturdy, especially at the front where it is reinforced with steel side bracing for rigidity and to allow a high level of equipment to be affixed. Here's How I started off:
And here we have the frame:
As you can see the level of detail is high, even down to the types of fixings and bolts- my hope is that in offering a very high realism model, it will be useful for a multitude of uses, from general simulation and animation within a scene, to close up shots and even photorealistic images from different views.
With the base done, next time we'll look at something pretty exciting: the robotic grabber arm:
Coming Next Week!
Things are off to an amazing start!
Having benefitted greatly from the advice and suggestions as well as the general motivating effect of the Aberdeen & Grampian Chamber of Commerce it's a delight to be featured as a new startup on their Business News Section.
As I mention in the article, it was really the whole involvement with people during the Northern Star Awards that I realised I was missing a great opportunity in the business sector. There is a rich diversity of businesses in Aberdeen especially within the oil and gas sector, and speaking to people at the Chamber of Commerce, I felt that I should be putting myself out there much more to try and work with businesses who want to showcasing their ideas in a new and exciting way.
It was this that led me to start offering a versatile 3D graphics and animation service, with the same attention to detail and personal touch that I have always enjoyed providing to clients.
So don't delay- jump in and have a read!
Lots of exciting in depth projects coming soon- stay tuned!
It's great to finally be up and running, and you may wonder what this new website is all about,
If you are familiar with my Illustration and Sculpture work under Aberdeen Art, you will know that I've always had a bit o a passion for 3D design and visualisation- all the way back to studying architecture at university! The handmade style of work I undertake at Aberdeen Art has allowed me to create lots of exciting and fun pieces from local building illustrations to cityscape sculptures and rusted stag's heads, and it's never something I would give up as working with the hands has always been a passion of mine, and in a strange way even helps me relive stress and relax!
Following on from the recent Northern Star Business Awards which I had the pleasure of designing for the Aberdeen & Grampian Chamber of Commerce which was probably the most commercial order I had taken on up until then, in speaking to local people about what they do, and learning more about the local businesses in Aberdeen, I realised that there is a big demand from the commercial side for artists and creative people, and this really opened my eyes. It's not something I would have thought a few years, or even months ago! Something in my mind must have always thought that in business there is less room for this kind of thing, but maybe I was wrong...
Thinking back to my days at school when I first began playing around with 3D Computer Graphics and worked on a project to show an animation of a revitalised Union Terrace Gardens (if only I knew!), I realised that working with computer graphics would afford so much more possibilities, and in terms of what commercial clients might be looking for, be better for them in saving time and money, and allowing amazing flexibility and versatility in what can be done.
Knowing friends and family who work in oil and gas, and engineering, and having myself worked in architecture, I know how crucial it can be to convey the right ideas clearly and accurately, and money can literally be lost by failing to convey things in the right way- whether this is to co-workers, clients, sales teams, at exhibitions and even in the office day to day- it all adds up, and that's where I hope to help!
So what am I providing?
In a nutshell, I'm offering 3D graphics, which itself can mean lots of things to different people. Basically, some of the actual services, which I'll break down in a future post, include:
Full range from Conceptual to Highly realistic
Orthographic and Perspective views
Accurate textures and materials
3D Models to scale
Show a building development in phases
Show how somethings is assembled
Text and information overlays
Dissassemble / explode items
Walk through your proposal
Show a product in operation
Marketing / Presentation films
So whether you are working in oil and gas, engineering, architecture, product development, property, construction, advertising or anything at all where you need to see your vision brought into reality, and want to show it off in the best light- I hope I can be of help
Thanks a lot for stopping by, and stay tuned for lots more exciting projects and updates!