Why I Work In… is a regular feature where we ask people about their jobs and the industry they work in. This time it’s James Bodsworth, Creative Director at Daval in Slaithwaite.
Tell us a little bit about Daval
Daval was founded in 1978 by my dad, David Bodsworth. He was working as a trained cabinet maker when he decided to start a business designing and selling made-to-measure fitted wardrobes.
His very first shop was in Milnsbridge and was called Distinctive Interiors, and he used an old, converted biscuit delivery lorry to transport and deliver the wardrobes he made to his customers.
Fast-forward to 2023, and Daval is a leading manufacturer of made-to-measure fitted kitchens and wardrobes, with more than 100 independent kitchen and bedroom showrooms in the UK stocking our cabinetry.
Our HQ is at Spa Fields in Slaithwaite, where we have our 100,000 square foot factory and kitchen and bedroom showroom. We also have an in-house design team that works directly with customers in Huddersfield and the surrounding area to create their dream fitted kitchen or bedroom.
I’m very proud that we remain an independent and family-run business, and I work closely alongside my brothers Paul, who is our operations director, and Simon, who is MD.
And what’s your role there – how would you describe your job to an alien?
I’m creative director for the business. In a nutshell, my role involves overseeing the creative direction of the brand, including working with the team on the collections we develop and bring to market, supporting our retail partners to develop their own showrooms, and overseeing and helping with customer projects if and when our in-house design team needs me to.
Also, because all our marketing is done in-house, I’m heavily involved in creating marketing assets including sales literature, social media content, and project case studies – where I get to exercise my love for photography and capture some great images of our completed kitchen and bedroom projects.
How long have you worked in this sector?
I went to university back in 2007 for a short while to study interior design but found it wasn’t for me, so I left and joined Daval full-time as a designer.
However, you’re always involved when it’s a family business, and before I joined full-time, I spent many a summer holiday working across different areas of the company, and there aren’t many jobs I haven’t done!
What skills make someone a good creative director?
You need to be trend-focused and be able to take inspiration from what’s going to be the next big thing in the world of interiors (in my case), but also balance that insight with creating products that are commercial and will be well-received by customers. Just because something is all over Instagram and looks great, doesn’t mean it’s necessarily what your customer is going to want in their home.
From a design standpoint, you need to have a great eye for detail and understand how a fitted kitchen or wardrobe will work as part of a whole room, not just in isolation. Our in-house designers work closely with our customers to understand and interpret what they’re trying to achieve for their whole space, and then create a kitchen or wardrobe design that complements that.
What’s your advice for people looking to get into your industry?
You need to keep up to date with other global markets like the fashion and automotive industries, as often, all these sectors take cues from one another in terms of emerging trends and styles.
From a design perspective, it’s also good to educate yourself on the more technical aspects of design, so in our case, what the manufacturing process for a made-to-measure kitchen or wardrobe is comprised of and the components that go into it. Unfortunately, much of the job isn’t about choosing colours and finishes, but making sure the design works on a practical level both in production and also in the customer’s home.
Finally, you often need to be able to put your personal tastes and style aside to make sure you design a space that is what the client wants, not something that’s too heavily influenced by what you like. As a designer, you are there to inspire, help and guide the customer, but ultimately, the decision about what they want for their home is theirs.
If you could describe your job in only three words, which would you choose?
Creative (obviously!), varied, rewarding.
What do you most love about it?
On a creative level, working with the Daval team to help shape the kitchen and bedroom collections we take to market and then manufacture on-site in Slaithwaite is a real privilege, as ultimately, customers are spending their hard-earned money to have our furniture in their homes, and we don’t take that for granted.
As for day-to-day, I love speaking to customers in the showroom about their ideas and plans, and then helping them bring to life what’s in their head, on screen. Because we manufacture on-site, it’s also great to be able to do a quick factory tour with customers. They often tell us how much they enjoy getting to physically see the production line and how and where their kitchen or bedroom furniture is made.
If someone is reading this and thinks, I’d love to work with Daval, what should they do?
Contact me on firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01484 848 500 and we can book an appointment for you to visit our showroom in Slaithwaite.
From there, we will introduce you to our design team to understand more about your project and what you are wanting to achieve to bring your project to life!