Maker Monday: An Aspire Exclusive Interview With Bakes & Kropp

Bob Bakes and Paul Kropp have pooled over 30 years of expertise in the home industry, striking a perfect design and craftsmanship partnership. Drawing on their strengths and leading a team of talented collaborators, Bob and Paul have created a luxury custom kitchen cabinet company greater than the sum of its parts. This is evident the first time you visit one of their kitchen cabinet showrooms or meet with a senior luxury kitchen designer. That feeling is only strengthened as you progress through their seamless process of bringing your space to life. With decades of experience working in the United States’ most premier homes, they have redefined high-end luxury cabinetry. Introducing this week’s Maker Monday, Bakes & Kropp.

The kitchen featured in this article was created for the 2021 Galerie House of Art & Design at Sag Harbor. It was expertly designed, built with precision, and incorporates elements that reflect the oceanfront residence.

The kitchen featured in this article was created for the 2021 Galerie House of Art & Design at Sag Harbor. It was expertly designed, built with precision, and incorporates elements that reflect the oceanfront residence.

Andrew Joseph: What is something you hope to see trending in design in the future?
Bob Bakes: I’m excited to see that people are becoming increasingly more experimental in their design choices, from mixing metals to integrating a variety of textures. It’s a development of expression we are seeing which I think will continue. This broadened, more inspired vision for design is resulting in spaces that demonstrate a clever and thoughtful balance of different looks.

Andrew: What would you like to be remembered for?
Paul Kropp: I would like to be remembered for building a great business that sustains beyond us, providing utility and service to its clients and support to its employees for years to come.

Andrew: What’s the weirdest thing a client has ever asked you?
Bob: I was once asked to design custom cabinetry for the inside of a horse trailer!

Andrew: What’s your design pet peeve?
Bob: It’s common for people to overthink storage. It isn’t always necessary to use every inch, and I’ve seen people compromise bulk storage in an effort to do so. An example of this is putting a lazy susan inside a corner cabinet. It solves some accessibility problems but also minimizes the amount of available space in other ways.

Paul: I’ve seen people try to incorporate technology into every aspect of design. We are looking to create kitchens that function well for our clients, and sometimes integration of technology goes too far. Instead, focus on harnessing design to foster interpersonal connection and you will find the essentials don’t go ignored.

These brazen and bold blue kitchen cabinets are as timeless as they are contemporary. With waves of marble grain washing over the negative space, this kitchen truly merges fashion and function.

These brazen and bold blue kitchen cabinets are as timeless as they are contemporary. With waves of marble grain washing over the negative space, this kitchen truly merges fashion and function.

Andrew: What was your first job?
Bob: When I was 12 or 13, I picked up newspapers at 5:30 am every day and delivered them before going to school.

Paul: I was a bit of an entrepreneur when I was about 10 years old. I would do odd jobs for neighbors, such as weeding, painting, and mowing lawns.

Andrew: How would you describe your personal style?
Bob: My work is marked by understated elegance and a subtle blend of materials, and is informed by English and Hampton’s design influences.

Andrew: What would your dream project or dream client be right now?
Bob: I have to say we have done some of our dream projects. On occasion, there is an added level of inspiration from a client that energizes me and makes my job not feel like a job at all. My dream projects are the ones that provide that rush.

Paul: At this point, we’ve had many high-profile, big projects that have dominated our business for a season. I enjoy the balance of having a variety of projects at any given time. I enjoy the clients who possess a balance of personal investment and trust in our team that allows them to be involved and engaged, but also give us full license to do what we do best.

The marble slab backsplash against the range and hood is the piece de resistance in this beautiful kitchen space.

The marble slab backsplash against the range and hood is the piece de resistance in this beautiful kitchen space.

Andrew: What are you most proud of?
Bob: I am very proud that we have created a successful business after so much commitment and work. It is difficult to build a team in which strong personalities can work comfortably together. I believe we’ve created a level of inspirational design and a sense of safety within the team that I’m very proud of.

Paul: I’m proud of the business we are building and my working relationship with Bob. We are very good at different things and have very different personalities, but those qualities complement each other well. We are able to stay in our respective lanes while also working together to produce a great result. On a personal level, I’m also really proud of my family.

Andrew: Style (or design) icon?
Bob: I worked at John Lewis of Hungerford in Central London earlier in my career, and I believe they are some of the most inspirational kitchen designers.

Paul: Growing up, I was inspired by people like the carpenter Norm Abram! Now, I like to take bits and pieces of design inspiration from various places and bring that into our designs. I have found I have been greatly influenced by English kitchen designers like Bob himself, as well as Johnny Grey, who I worked with in the past.

The incredible fixtures found throughout this sanctuary of cuisine perfectly suit the home and surrounding environment. From the modern lighting above to the brand-spanking-new appliances, this kitchen is seamlessly stunning.

The incredible fixtures found throughout this sanctuary of cuisine perfectly suit the home and surrounding environment. From the modern lighting above to the brand-spanking-new appliances, this kitchen is seamlessly stunning.

Andrew: How would you define your work in three words?
Bob: Understated. Elegant. Thoughtful.

Paul: Precise. Honest. Quality.

Andrew: What might the design world look like in 10 years?
Bob: I believe technology will probably improve and make new things possible, but the basic design concepts and frameworks we use will endure.

Andrew: What’s inspiring you in life (in the industry) right now?
Bob: I am inspired by the energy I am seeing in clients today – the creativity and willingness to take design risks. It is this attitude in our clients that inspires us to expand our horizons.

Paul: I am always inspired by hospitality, entertaining, and building connections between people. Creating comfortable environments for communities to be together is the greatest design inspiration in my eyes.


About The Makers | With over 30 years of experience in the home industry, Bob Bakes and Paul Kropp have drawn on their strengths to create the go-to brand of high-quality true custom cabinetry incorporating functional design, thoughtful balance, and timeless beauty. Bakes & Kropp has showrooms in New York City, The Hamptons, Long Island, and Michigan, and is celebrated for defining fine cabinetry across the United States. Their team of talented employees is known for its impeccable customer service.

Bob Bakes, in his role as Head of Design, calls on his years of experience as owner and operator of a kitchen design studio in central London and his well-known former brand, Bakes & Company, based in Sag Harbor, NY. Bob has developed an expansive knowledge of the interior design process and professional project management skills throughout his accomplished career.

Buying his first saw at age 12, Paul Kropp’s 30 years of experience in the artistry and proficiency in master woodworking has helped him become one of the leading millwork experts in the US. For the last decade, Paul’s former brand, Kropp Woodworking, produced internationally sought-after fine furniture, countertops, and cabinetry and was the avenue through which Bob and Paul formed the ideal partnership.


Andrew Joseph is a regular contributing editor for aspire design and home magazine. See more of his work here.

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