Meet Kimball Derrick

I’m a person who appreciates nature. I had one of those idyllic childhoods, the stuff of great American novels, where my friends and I could roam freely, exploring all of the wonder nature had to offer. Because of my connection to nature, from an early age, I was drawn to art and to beauty in all things, which would have a profound impact on my life and career.

While immersion in nature did much to inspire my early creative aspirations, it was the special relationships I had with my grandfather and father that influenced much of my career. My grandfather spent more than 50 years as a skilled craftsman of hardwood flooring. My father studied architecture, eventually becoming a respected builder and contractor. Our property included a workshop, where we spent countless hours together, the two older generations, builders and artisans, imparting decades of wisdom and experience on their willing apprentice. Both men imbued in me a deep and abiding appreciation for exquisite design and the timeless beauty of fine craftsmanship.

As important as my grandfather and father were in my development, it was a high school art teacher who would play a pivotal role in helping to define my career journey. I attended Cincinnati Country Day School. It was there that my art teacher, Mrs. Pierce, recognized not only my ability, but also my passion for art and beauty. She drew out that passion, pushing me well beyond the self-imposed limitations common to many young people. It took that one person to instill in me the belief and confidence to pursue my dreams, to explore the outposts of my creative potential.

From Cincinnati Country Day, I moved to the University of Cincinnati where I enrolled in the School of Architecture. But a deeper creative spirit stirred within me, something that could not be satisfied by the formality of a higher education classroom. After several years, I left UC to join the highly regarded Apeiron Photography Workshop in New York. It was there I gained a deeper appreciation of the subtle details of fine art photography, something that would influence every aspect of my approach to design. I loved the small, communal nature of Apeiron, the intimate study with accomplished artists and photographers. In fact, upon completing my studies, I chose to stay on at Apeiron, becoming a member of their staff and eventually serving as Co-Director of the Workshop.

Upon completing my formal education, an opportunity arose that I could not pass up. My father, who had become Vice President of Facilities with GE in Cincinnati, was not happy in the corporate world. And, as a new father, I knew I needed to provide a stable life for my growing family. So, in 1981, I returned to Cincinnati and opened a custom woodworking business with my father. The company eventually evolved into KD and Steele Cabinetry, and became highly regarded for the workmanship of our custom cabinetry. Over time, our company became home to some of the finest cabinet artisans in the region.

The demand for custom cabinetry dovetailed with the growth in the kitchen design industry. As the size and value of homes increased, so did the importance of kitchens as the centerpiece, the soul of those homes. So, it seemed only natural to expand my passion for fine cabinet making into a broader business of designing beautiful kitchens. At that point, I dedicated my career to creating inspired and artistic kitchens, eventually opening a retail business in 2001 called the Kitchen Design Studio.

As we are all aware, the universe has a way of intruding on our best laid plans. For me, this happened in 2007. An early morning fire destroyed our cabinet shop. Because the shop was an integral part of the work we were doing at the Kitchen Design Studio, I was forced to re-assess my priorities. As proud as I was with the success of both KD and Steele and the Design Studio, I’d come to realize that the demands of business limited my ability to do what I loved the most: create beautiful design projects with individual clients. So, I decided to sell what remained of the business and focus my energies on design consultation. This journey took me to Chicago for several years where Dallas-based Bentwood Luxury Kitchens hired me to design their showroom in the famed Merchandise Mart. But my heart was really in Cincinnati, a fact often reinforced on my frequent returns to my hometown when former clients would ask: “So when are you going to start working in Cincinnati again?”

The “again” happened in 2013, when I returned to embark on what I assume will be the final phase of my journey. I’m grateful to have had wonderful clients who challenged and inspired me to push my creativity and imagination to the limit, something that would have made Mrs. Pierce from Country Day School proud. With every project, I sense the presence of both my grandfather and father at my side, encouraging me, reinforcing the importance of blending breathtaking design and unparalleled craftsmanship. And somewhere in the mix is that young boy, running free through nature, learning how to appreciate the beauty and simplicity in all things.