Q&A with Peter Humphrey

Design Director & Founder of Humphrey Munson

With 100,000 people now following Humphrey Munson on Instagram, we thought it might be interesting to share the story of how Humphrey Munson started and since we feature Q&As all the time on the H|M blog, we thought it would be good to do a Q&A with the one person who started it all – Peter  Humphrey. It’s incredible to think of all those people all over the world who following our projects with such appreciation, we really do love to read the comments left on each post so thank you all.

When did you start your own business and what were the most important career steps before that?

Well I left school when I was 15 and started working as an apprentice upholsterer – there wasn’t any particular reason why, I suppose looking back it was quite an instinctive choice to work with my hands. I loved the frame making side of this industry so I then went into working for an architectural practice as an on-site carpenter. We did a bit of everything – joinery, installation, even building work. Over the years I honed my craft and started to think about how I could improve methods and processes in cabinetmaking. Ultimately I suppose I’ve always been searching for perfection. By the mid 1990’s I’d had years of experience working on all kinds of projects and that experience gave me the foundation to start my own business. I had a vision for the company from day one.

Humphrey Munson - The Joinery Works, Felsted - Essex - Beautiful Handmade Kitchens

How did you train to do what you do?

Well I began working as a cabinetmaker which gave me a basic skill set, but my motivation to be the best I can meant I had to start designing kitchens and to do that I had to set out on my own path. Everything I know now as a designer is self-taught.

I love the design aesthetic of the Georgian era so I was always seeking to incorporate those values of symmetry, simplicity and proportion into my work and that is still true today.

Georgian Farmhouse Kitchen, Hampshire - Humphrey Munson

What does your daily routine look like?

I get into work between 7am-8am and go through my emails. I’ll usually meet with the production manager and workshop manager first thing to get an update from the manufacturing side of the business.

Workshop - A Day in the Life - Humphrey Munson

We use traditional joinery techniques at our workshop in Felsted, Essex and everything is made here by our cabinetmakers – we don’t outsource anything.

Humphrey Munson Workshop - Cabinetmakers - Luxury Bespoke Kitchens - Humphrey Munson

Depending on my schedule I might have meetings with clients to discuss their projects – we have a young and dynamic design team so there’s always a real buzz in the office. Some projects can take years to come to fruition so you get to really know the clients – designing these spaces is my passion and it’s great to share that love of design with our clients.

At lunchtime there’s usually something cooking in one of the showroom kitchens, all our kitchens are live and fully functional so I’ll nearly always have lunch at work. Louisa, our Creative Director, and her assistant Georgina, are always trying out new recipes using the ovens and cooking appliances we have in our kitchens which are then posted on the H|M blog. Preparing, cooking, dining, clearing away after meals – all of these things are an integral part of kitchen life so it makes sense to us that when clients visit they can see why we design spaces the way we do.

Is there someone or something that has influenced your sense of style?

When it comes to design I really believe in the values of Georgian architecture – simplicity, proportion and balance – but I also love the crisp, fresh finish of clean, contemporary lines. It’s the combination of these qualities that give the spaces we design that calm and quietly understated look and feel.

I’ve always admired the architectural work by Christopher Wren, he balanced proportion of form with excellence in design and engineering in a way that you rarely encounter in the world of design. My love of classic English design is what underpins everything the design team do at Humphrey Munson.

St. Albans Showroom - Markham Kitchen - Humphrey Munson

My great-great-grandfather, Joseph Munson, was a master cabinetmaker in the late 1800s in the east end of London and his style was not dissimilar to my own – classic English furniture designed with simplicity and functionality at its core.When I was thinking of a name for the company I chose Humphrey Munson to reflect both heritage and innovation.

What are some of your biggest learnings you gained working in design / crafts since you started your business?

To never give up, never give in. Being a designer is hard on many levels, but running a business as well is even harder. You have to have that passion and love what you do.

There are so many challenges along the way but it’s how you deal with them that – being positive, proactive and good at problem solving has got to me to where I am today.

What does quality mean to you and how is it reflected in your work?

Quality means everything to me and it gives me enormous satisfaction that the Humphrey Munson name is synonymous with quality. We’ll never stop trying to improve what we’re doing today, tomorrow and the next day.

We use the best quality materials at every turn – from the raw timber to the door hinges, and we train our cabinetmakers and our installation teams to be the best they can be. I’m so proud of the team at H|M, we are small but mighty and that will never change.