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As CEO of esteemed kitchen brand Smallbone of Devizes, Leo Caplan has been spearheading the brand's global expansion since 2009. An ambassador for great british craftsmanship, Smallbone has been at the forefront of luxury furniture design for over 35 years, and will be hosting a series of 'kitchen conversations' on their stand in the brand new lifestyle tent at this year's show. We caught up with Leo to find out more about this inspirational brand, and their plans for the show, of course!
Since taking over Smallbone in 2009, you have made some big changes. Could you tell us a little about these?
My vision for Smallbone from the outset was for global expansion and I am very proud of the traction we are now getting worldwide. We have forged very strong relationships with luxury developers and private clients globally and been involved in the development of some of the finest landmark buildings including oNE57 and Walker Tower both in New York City, designing and fitting for them exclusive, custom-made kitchens. It is owing to this success, Canburg, the overarching company of Smallbone of Devizes was placed 28th in the annual Sunday Times International Track 200, a ‘league table’ that ranks Britain’s private companies with the fastest-growing international sales over their latest two years.
In order to reach our customers worldwide we have also launched a new inspirational global website. Our new site offers visitors around the world a customised approach, as well as being a highly useful resource to help users to decide the design of a luxury kitchen, bathroom or bedroom.
We also know how important it is not to stand still, which is why we have introduced new collections, including our contemporary Kitchen collection last year and we are launching our landmark collection at Decorex this year.
A hand painted kitchen from Smallbone of Devizes Mandarin collection
What is the biggest challenge in your working life?
Having enough time in the day to be everywhere I need to be. It is rare to be a British business, which is both a design and manufacturing company and we are very proud that we are both, but it does mean I spend a lot of my time travelling, especially as we now have showrooms in the United Kingdom, New York and Russia and further expansion expected.
A Smallbone of Devizes Macassar kitchen
Which is the most popular design chosen by your customers?
Hand painted has always been our most popular kitchen in terms of finish, especially with recent launches such as the Macassar Collection, allowing customers to have a contemporary design which incorporates different materials such as mirror, glass, veneer and marble, but in any colour they desire. I would imagine Hand Painted furniture will always be a best seller as it allows our customers to work with us to create a totally bespoke Kitchen as they can literally chose any colour and our artists will create the most beautiful kitchen in any paint finish of their choice. Also for customers who like to follow trends in interior design and update their homes accordingly, a painted kitchen can be re-painted by Smallbone in-line with new colour trends.
An original hand painted kitchen from Smallbone
How did you become interested in interior design brands?
I’ve always been a busy person, so was advised by a close friend to take up a hobby and relax, I bought the bespoke furniture company, Brookmans, but that hobby soon grew into a passion, and I now own Smallbone of Devizes and Mark Wilkinson Funiture! I have always loved being involved in creating something beautiful and permanent which has a huge positive impact of how we live our everyday life and I am proud that a Smallbone kitchen does just that.
If you could describe Smallbones’ work in 3 words, what would they be?
Luxury, bespoke, craftsmanship
A Smallbone of Devizes Walnut & Silver kitchen
Could you tell us a little about your stand plans for Decorex 2013?
I can’t tell you much, other than we are extremely excited to be unveiling our latest landmark collection this year at Decorex. In order to create impact and showcase our new kitchen at its best, we have taken the largest stand in the luxury lifestyle tent at 90 sq. metres. We will also be holding twice daily ‘kitchen Conversations’, which will be taken by leading experts in the world of trends, design and colour.
If you could sum up Decorex in 20 words what would they be?
A great source for interior designers to see first hand the latest products and designs within the luxury homes and interiors sector.
An oak kitchen from the Smallbone of Devizes Chelsea collection
What does the future look like for Smallbone?
We continue to strive for further global expansion as well as continue our programme of strong new launches, with new bedroom and bathroom collections projected for 2014.
Register for Decorex 2013 to see Smallbone at the show, and to attend their Kitchen Conversations!