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The Mark Wilkinson I knew

Kitchens Bedrooms & Bathrooms editor Ruth Bell on the design and personal legacy of Mark Wilkinson…

How to describe Mark Wilkinson? Talented, passionate, a born designer, a lover of life. But that doesn’t go far enough. Everything he did, he did for the joy of it and this is what consistently shone through in his work – and, in turn, made it joyful.

What we now take as standards in kitchen furniture began with Mark – and his style has been much imitated, as well as inspiring a generation of designers. Always brimming over with ideas, his output was prolific. And if his designs weren’t always to your taste (I admit, there were a couple I couldn’t get on board with) there was always much to admire. I associate Mark’s pieces with craftsmanship, thoughtfulness and real attention to detail. To hear him talk passionately about creating a fish-skin effect on leather to use as a detail on a kitchen door isn’t a conversation you would have with many people. I will miss that.

Meetings with Mark always went off at tangents. We would be discussing his latest kitchen design and he would have to break off and tell us about the pizza oven he’d just built or a boat design he couldn’t stop thinking about. Obviously, it was always a pleasure to be so diverted and it was never a problem that meetings always lasted longer than scheduled. He saw possibilities in everything and this is what made him such a great designer and his furniture so beautiful. It also made him fantastic company – along with his love of good food and wine, and wide repertoire of entertaining anecdotes!

I was fortunate to be invited to his beautiful house and experience the legendary Wilkinson hospitality first hand. Seeing him there, in his element, excitedly talking about his latest designs is a memory I will cherish. To be with Mark was to be infected with his love of life. We owe it to him to try and be a little bit joyful, every day.

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