In 2011, Kati Balázs set up Wise Turtle Interiors, a company specialising in bespoke kitchen design rather than simply selling showroom units to fit a space. It’s a business model that puts the customer at the heart of the process, in much the same way that the kitchen is the heart of the house.
“The kitchen is the hub of every home, where a family eats, meets, cares for children and entertains,” says Kati. “This is a space which has to serve many functions at the same time. It has to blend in, or sometimes even define, the overall style of the property.” Incorporating light, movement and social interaction into each design concept could be an overwhelming prospect but Kati’s 15 years honing her craft at various kitchen studios stands her in good stead.
Wise Turtle Interiors boasts an impressive supplier list too, built up over 15 years of visiting UK and European trade exhibitions. “I wanted to offer a wide range of products both for style and market expectation, as well as for different budgets,” says Kati. “German and Italian brands have good reputations. So I picked a small German company that offers a more flexible and personal service than the larger suppliers, while the quality, furniture proportions and internal fixings are the same. I also selected two Italian companies; one is good for mass production and the other offers high-end products with exclusive units and finishes.” In addition to offering a great selection of models and designs, Kati made it her business to visit the factories, understand the manufacturing process and why certain design elements may cost more. It’s the kind of a personal touch that keeps her clients coming back for more.
She also regularly attends trade shows, such as EuroCucina in Milan, visits factory showrooms and uses interiors magazines to keep abreast of the latest design trends, materials and finishes. That said, Kati has a clearly defined style: contemporary, simple, elegant, using two colours and making good use of textures; preferring floating wall units rather than wall to wall. It’s a winning style, though she’s keen to point out that the client’s wishes come first. If traditional or Shaker-style is what is needed, for example, Wise Turtles has the skills and product suppliers to meet those wishes. Even the logistics of the more unusual requests such as a fish tank splash back between base and wall units are poured over until every option is exhausted.
She also gets to know her clients and tries to understand as much about how they intend to use the space as possible. As she notes: “There is no golden rule of kitchen design, just many, many considerations… and there will always be at least one compromise in the space. We have to understand this and make decisions that mean the smallest sacrifice for the largest gain. The only thing I never compromise on is the customer.”
Her commitment is clear – the only thing that isn’t is the name: Wise Turtle Interiors. As turtles aren’t usually associated with kitchens, the name choice is intriguing. “I have been fond of turtles since childhood so I regularly visit a beach in Turkey where turtles return to lay their eggs,” says Kati. “I have become friends with a turtle rescue centre there and decided that one per cent of our profits will be donated to a foundation that helps injured Mediterranean sea turtles.” So elegant, intuitive kitchen design and a company with a heart, what more could you ask for?
Visit Wise Turtle Interiors at: www.wiseturtle-interiors.com