When Kate Walker launched KWD four years ago, she was a sole operator building a small business and working from the dining table in her home. It was the perfect option for a single mum with two young children. The business could have coasted along, but with entrepreneurial skills in her DNA, Kate naturally grew the business – seeing opportunities and seizing them with both hands.
The KWD studio that Kate soon established at her property worked beautifully, with an office to seat four staff and a small showroom where clients met for briefings to view KWD’s hard finish samples. Then the team grew, and outgrew this space, and necessity rather than planning called for larger premises. The studio is currently being refurbished and will be transformed into a beautiful showroom where clients can view and select their materials.
When Kate first investigated the idea of moving to larger premises where she could accommodate 10 staff in a central location, Mount Martha Village was the obvious choice. The concept of KWD HQ evolved from a desire to showcase how much KWD itself has evolved and grown.
“Many designers subscribe to and specialise in one style; however, our desire, expertise and experience lend themselves to much more than just one design style,” Kate says. “We work with such a variety of clients from all walks of life and in so many different locations that our portfolio has embraced a wide selection of different aesthetics.
“It was important that our branding reflect our diversity. While our studio is definitely skewed toward Hamptons-style, we wanted our clients to see that we are not one dimensional. We love working with a wide variety of styles, from mid-century modern, minimal and industrial to classic, contemporary, coastal and traditional styles as well. It was essential that our new headquarters reflect this, and the result is a more masculine feel that will appeal to our rather large male client base.”
Kate was working on so many projects, and had so much on her plate during the time she needed to design KWD HQ, that she simply didn’t have the mental space to commit to doing a project of this calibre. “I was really emotionally attached to the project and that can sometimes be fraught with danger when you are making an emotional decision rather than an intellectual decision.
“It’s exactly the same for our clients. While many of our clients are professionals in the industry and have the skills to undertake the projects themselves, it is so important to have someone you can rely on to manage the process, alleviate the burden and ensure everything runs smoothly. You need to make decisions with ice in your veins.”
Kate engaged Carlo Romanin, of Romanin Design, to direct the design for KWD HQ. Kate and Carlo have worked together on a number of projects – KWD designed all of the hard finishes in Carlo’s new home, which has a Hamptons-style feel, and Carlo designed the KWD branding direction and website design.
“He gets me,” says Kate. “He understands the way I work and the perception that I want in the marketplace and he responded to the brief beautifully. I’d like to think I was an easy-going client, not accepting anything less than perfection. And I have a result that I never would have got if I was in charge and I am really thrilled with that. The KWD HQ design has played to Carlo’s strengths, which is a masculine aesthetic. We work very well together.”
The black and white colour scheme was deliberately chosen as they aren’t really considered colours, and they provide the ideal canvas for showcasing our hard finish samples. Everything in KWD HQ is based on black, white and grey tones (other than the timber flooring) to enable the products to shine. The artwork on the walls is black and white to reflect the black and white architectural plans KWD works from, and every detail has been considered down to the telephones, glassware, crockery and accessories.
“We have an incredible working relationship with the manufacturers and importers we work with. We are always supportive of them and in return they are a fantastic support to us. The granite, marble, the black carpet and the European oak flooring are all from our supply partners. Laminex supplied all of the FormWrap black velvet finish joinery which looks so amazing in this space. We are also huge supporters of the English Tapware Company because their products are such high quality and they provide an excellent service, and we feature their tapware in our kitchen and bathroom.
“KWD HQ is a very collaborative space. The interactive peg display boards form the central core of our product development area. We often have importers and manufacturers visit us to show us their latest and greatest new products, so we put these samples up on the peg boards for a few weeks so we can become familiar with them and see how they resonate with us.
“This display area also gives us the opportunity to hero different looks at different times, and to prepare beautiful bespoke briefs for client presentations. KWD HQ is a hub for innovation, and the space has been designed to be super-efficient with ergonomic elements like acoustic screening, headphones for phone calls and designated office spaces so that the team can work quietly and efficiently.”
If you would like to visit the new KWDHQ, call to make an appointment. Kate and her team look forward to seeing you.
A: Shop 7, 34-38 Lochiel Ave, Mount Martha
T: 5974 1800