Here at VictoriaPlum.com, you’ll find designer bathrooms without the designer price tags. But how do we keep our prices low, whilst maintaining a high level of quality that’s backed up by lifetime guarantees?

I chatted with Luke, one of the key members of the Product Team at VictoriaPlum.com, who explains how he literally goes the extra mile to bring you quality products at low prices.

Thanks for chatting with me Luke. What’s your role at VictoriaPlum.com?

My pleasure. I’m a Product Designer. The role is pretty much as it says on the tin: I design products across all categories, from baths to taps to furniture.

How did you become a Product Designer?

After studying design at university, working as an architectural model maker, and a designer at an office furniture manufacture, I re-trained as a furniture maker. For a while I was a full time furniture designer and maker, but the chance to work and design for VictoriaPlum.com was an offer I couldn’t refuse.

Where do you get inspiration for products?

I take inspiration from many genres, such as art, architecture, classic and contemporary design, and also from trade shows which showcase upcoming trends. I try and visit as many of these as possible every year. As these take place all over the world, in countries such as Germany, Italy, Turkey and China. I’ve certainly clocked up some air miles in my time!

Closer to home, I also attend the Ideal Home Show at Olympia – which shows the styling more than product - and the KBB (Kitchen and Bath Business) Show at the NEC. Design week in London is also a great place to see new designs in and outside of the bathroom.

Do trends that you see, for example, in Italy and German, translate well into the UK markets?

Not always. We take aspects of European trends and adapt them for the UK market. For example, in continental Europe the current trend in the bathroom is towards wall hung furniture, whereas in the UK, consumers prefer floor mounted.

What about customer feedback?

The comments we get from our customers is absolutely invaluable. We use this feedback when looking at how we can improve our products, in terms of use, appearance and fitting.

How do trade shows help you source products?

As well as ensuring we’re at the very forefront of the latest designs, they’re also a great place to meet and strengthen relationships with our existing suppliers who exhibit at these shows. Plus, it’s also an excellent way of meeting new suppliers.

Where do you begin designing a new product?

I use the latest trends as inspiration and begin creating designs with my own personal touches and enhancements. I’ll then speak directly with our existing suppliers and see if they can produce a product based on the design I’ve created. However, if there is a product that has really caught my eye, I’ll speak directly with its manufacturer.

Luke - VictoriaPlum.com Product Designer

So you’ve created your own design. How does it go from concept to production?

The suppliers we’ve chosen to work with are very good at interpreting my designs quickly, producing samples and addressing any quality issues that might arise. Our suppliers are based in countries all around the world – China, Poland, Turkey, and, of course, the UK to name a few. Contrary to what some people may have you believe, countries such as China produce excellent quality products and have a very high care of quality.

We regularly meet with our suppliers, as it allows us to check samples, give feedback and redesign if necessary, until we’re 100% satisfied the product is fit for purpose. It’ll then go to production.

How do you check for quality?

There are several rigorous quality control checks, starting with the manufacturer (who we also audit) and here at VictoriaPlum.com. Again, only once we’re 100% satisfied the product is of the required high standard, will we finally launch the product on our site.

But how does all this mean VictoriaPlum.com can offer low prices?

It’s all about making a direct approach, developing strong, personal relationships with suppliers and travelling the globe to find the best products at the right price. As with anything in life, the more work you put into something, the greater the reward. The reward in our case is being able to offer the lowest prices to our customers.

What trends do you think we’ll see in bathrooms in the coming year?

As people become more aware of European styles we should see an increase in contemporary bathrooms with wall mounted furniture and ceramics. Built in shower valves and heads with electronic controls will become more popular too.

I think we’ll also see more tech introduced to bathrooms. For example, mirrors that allow you to check Facebook or Twitter as you brush your teeth!

What is your favourite VictoriaPlum.com product?

We have so many great products but my favourite would have to be the Fairbanks suite. The soft subtle lines of the ceramics make any bathroom look great and the splash basin is really cool with water running over it!

Fairbanks bathroom suite

Luke's personal favourite: The Fairbanks bathroom suite

If you'd like to find out more about what goes on behind the scenes at VictoriaPlum.com, why not see how we test your bath for quality?