Bespoke furniture maker Kaizen takes its name from the Japanese philosophy of continuous improvement. “This is our ethos,” says Bill Schilling, the company’s co-founder and joint managing director. “We are committed to setting and achieving ever higher standards in our work and challenging what is already accepted.”
Schilling joined forces with fellow furniture designer Antonius Wubben to form Kaizen in 1995, and the Essex- and London-based firm now employs a team of 40, who together create commissions for private clients, as well as for internationally acclaimed designers such as Christian Liaigre, Todhunter Earle and Philippe Starck. Aesthetically it has a rather diverse portfolio, but then the Kaizen team are more furniture engineers than designers with their own signature style. “We’ve completed projects that are contemporary, pared down and minimalist, and others that are extremely decorative with detailed marquetry and carvings,” says Wubben. “Our ambition and flexibility as furniture makers means we will turn our hand to almost anything.”
The brand is becoming best known for its beautifully constructed bespoke desks (from £15,000). “A desk must be pragmatic and designed around the possessions it is intended to store and the uses the client has in mind for it,” Schilling explains, “so there is no one size fits all.” True to the no-fixed-style philosophy, these desks range widely in both form and materials. In one recent project, for example, Kaizen collaborated with a fine-metal artisan to create a modernist, stainless-steel version for a client who wanted a seaproof-looking desk for the study on his boat. Other desk commissions have included a glass-encased sycamore number with a cantilevered top, and a classically elegant design made from Macassar ebony veneer and handstitched leather. For similar projects, a three to four month turnaround time is typical.