Nestled in the railway arches near Lambeth North, Life Kitchens has been serving the residents of south London and the surrounds since the summer of 2018, with Virtual Worlds design software being an important part of its proposition from the outset.
The impressive 3,500 square foot flagship showroom features nine displays, all beautifully propped to inspire and showcasing the full breadth of the Life Kitchens offer; from ultra-contemporary hidden kitchens to country style rural idylls. Alongside these displays, an area of the showroom is dedicated to a virtual Worlds 4D Theatre, which includes a huge curved screen where customers can immerse themselves in their dream kitchen using the latest design technology.
Life Kitchens started working with Virtual Worlds 12 months before opening the Lambeth showroom and is something that Director and Founder Oli Stephenson believes gives the showroom a real point of difference.
“Our brand is built on the fact that people do much more in their kitchen than just cook; it’s the hub of the home and so our approach to understanding people needs to be different,” Oli explains. “I don’t want the first question people to be asked when they walk in our showroom to be ‘what’s your budget’. We want to find out about how you live, what you like to cook, how you entertain.”
Designing kitchens is certainly a way of life for Oli, who is the fifth generation of a family-run business, so has been involved in the industry throughout his adulthood. He says he took the visionary step to go on a journey with Virtual Worlds because he believes VR is an important part of the future of selling kitchens. “I looked at other 4D software on the market, but they weren’t true virtual reality. We wanted the experience here to be something very different and interactive,” he explains.
“Virtual Worlds 4D Theatre offers a real point of difference for us and we use it for every customer that comes into the showroom. We undertake a design consultation for our customers and then we invite them back in after a week or so for a presentation in the 4D Theatre and it just blows people away.
“It is an amazing tool too and helps people take the leap to purchase because it is as close to ‘try before you buy’ as you can possibly have. That is very important for a kitchen that you are going to want to live with for the next 10 years or more.”
This latest 4D technology not only enhances the buying experience for customers, but has many advantages for retailers too. “We love the fact that we can make changes quickly and easily and the support we have received from the very start has been over and above,” comments Oli. I can’t fault the software in terms of sharpness of renders and interactivity; it’s definitely money well spent. It’s been invaluable.”
With so much choice available when it comes to kitchens and floor space so often at a premium for retailers, being able showcase the full depth of range to customers is another huge benefit of Virtual Worlds software and something that Life Kitchens has benefited from.
“By dedicating just a section of the showroom to the 4D Theatre we have gained so much,” agrees Oli. “It is possible to create a virtual showroom, so we can show customers our full depth of range. This will enable us to increase the footprint of our showroom and allow our customers to truly visualise designs that aren’t physically on display.”
Working with developers and architects is also enhanced with the use of 4D technology, with developers encouraged to direct potential buyers to the showroom to view their kitchen in virtual reality before it is specified. The company is also able to show developers various layouts at different price points quickly and easily. “4D Theatre is a fabulous tool for developers to be able to upsell with and to demonstrate that we are adding value,” comments Oli.
With a carefully thought out showroom, brand proposition and range of products virtual reality is the icing on the cake for Life Kitchens.