Q & A
Regional Award Winner
Conceptual Kitchens & Millwork is an Indianapolis-based custom kitchen design company founded in 2001 by Rob Klein. Its clientele, which originated in the Midwest, has grown to include designers, architects, and homeowners across the nation. The firm recently completed its second collaboration with renown Atlanta interior designer Suzanne Kasler.
Conceptual Kitchens & Millwork is an award-winning representative of William Ohs cabinetry. As president and lead designer, Rob Klein brings a fine arts background to the industry: He received a degree in fine arts from Kenyon College in 1994. “Because I’m classically trained, I bring a clear understanding of proportion and balance to my designs for clients. Our kitchens are about more than fine hardware and beautifully carved and finished cabinet doors; they are about design.” Little wonder Rob’s clients are smitten. His favorite complement from a pleased homeowner: “This isn’t a kitchen, it’s artwork!”
Rob’s background places him at the tangent of hands-on, no-nonsense building-industry experience, and the intellectual aesthetic derived from formal art studies. The son of a builder of high-end homes, “I grew up in this industry,” says Rob. “It was a pretty amazing experience. While I was in college and shortly after, I would help my father with all of his drafting, then get to see my designs come to fruition.”
He also was no stranger to a hammer and nails. “I grew up swinging a hammer, getting this wonderful perspective of how things go together.” By the time he started his company, he knew all the steps: design, order entry, confirmation, delivery, installation. By 1998, he had a portfolio of kitchen designs so stellar they could hold their own with any of those from more established kitchen designers.
Equally comfortable with aesthetics and utilitarianism, Rob admits it’s the aesthetic difference—the design itself—that distinguishes his kitchens from others. Split drawers and split doors are a feature that he’s mastered to circumvent manufacturer’s spatial limitations. Insetting cabinets into drywall is another. Even countertops, to Rob, are design statements, not mere surface materials. “There’s a lot you can do with laminating and picture-framing to highlight the seams.”
Versatility is another hallmark of Rob’s kitchens. They range in styles from sleek minimalism to comfy country French. “Truly, I want my kitchen to be the last one that goes in the house,” he says. “I integrate them with the architecture through finishes and door styles so they look original to the home, while shaping them with edgy, innovative design.”
Wm Ohs, National Sales Award Wm Ohs, Dealership Excellence Award Neff, National Design Competition Winner Neff, National Sales Award Indianapolis Monthly Best Kitchen Publications Traditional Home Beautiful Kitchens and Baths Trends Magazine House Trends, cover.
Where do you find design inspiration?
I love design, and I am attracted to design that stands alone, that is simple, elegant, and sophisticated. I would say every day products. Cloths, watches, cars, houses, etc...
How do you approach the design process?
I approach design from an artistic perspective, for me it’s about proportion, and being bold in the design and for me that is letting it "the Design" stand alone.
What makes your aesthetic stand out amongst other designers?
I do have a style for detail. One of my favorite quotes from a client is "You have to pay for what you don't see".
What is the greatest value you provide to your clients?
The design is in the line, every line or lack thereof that I put on the paper has a purpose, and that purpose is to offer my clients cutting edge design that is sophisticated in nature and will stand the test of time.