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Sara Baldwin Designs Blog

AutoKitchen and New Ravenna

Or, Have your cake and eat it too–in a virtual kitchen.

Tell me if you don’t recognize yourself or your clients in the following question: “What is xyz product (cabinets, lights, paint, appliances, etc) really going to look like when it’s installed in my house? ”

The New Ravenna version: “How can I tell how this little mosaic sample will read once it’s all over my wall? Will I spend all this money and then want to take a sledgehammer to the floor every time I need to pee? ”

Let’s face it, it’s tough to visualize. Clients don’t want to commit until they see the product installed, and they won’t generally be able to see it installed unless they…buy it.

These days, many 3-D virtual design programs exist that purport to solve this conundrum. So far, I’ve only stuck my toe into the large vat of options that exist out there in interior-design-world– 20-20Chief ArchitectGoogle SketchUp, etc. After viewing random 3-D renderings generated by these programs over the years, I’d always wondered how New Ravenna could have our designs incorporated into them.

But alas, I’ve become fairly ADD after juggling all the different responsibilities a small business lays like a sack of cement on your back. So virtual reality design kept getting pushed further and further down the list of priorities…behind things like: Why is our applied labor cost so high this month? or, (I swear this actually happened) What do you mean we sent Shelley Tile a set of Pokeman pajamas instead of her mosaic order?

But then a wonderfully generous man named Miguel Merida contacted me and wanted to use our patterns in a virtual design program called AutoKitchen, and he sent me a mock-up to demonstrate his product…for free! I have to say we were blown away by the image, by his choice of pattern, and by the way he repeated the pattern.

Mirage mosaic by New Ravenna in AutoKitchen 3-D rendering

Nice job Miguel, right? Having never heard of AutoKitchen, I did a little research. Here’s some history from their website: “In 1998, Microcad Software was the first European company to sign an Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) agreement with Autodesk® for the development of a kitchen design program. This is how autokitchen® was born. Today, autokitchen® is the leading stand-alone kitchen design software built on a standard CAD engine, namely AutoCAD®. Since its introduction in 1998, autokitchen® has put the power and flexibility of AutoCAD® into the hands of thousands of designers, architects, builders, cabinetmakers and remodelers.”

Two versions of New Ravenna's Chatham patterns.

They have offices internationally, and they’ve been around since 1998, so they’ve had time to work out lots of kinks. It is really amazing how realistic these renderings are, isn’t it? The lighting effects alone are phenomenal. I am no expert on CAD-based design programs or any of the other 3-D programs out there, but these images certainly would help a client understand exactly what their new kitchen will look like.

Here's a more traditional kitchen that features our Edie pattern.

AutoKitchen will be at KBIS in Las Vegas the end of April–I’ll definitely be checking out their booth (C4990) since we’ll be exhibiting as well, and finally meeting Miguel. Have any of you tried AutoKitchen? What programs do you like to use for your design-work, and why?

9 Responses to “AutoKitchen and New Ravenna”

  1. Paul Anater says:

    Faster, cheaper, easier; I'm all about SketchUp.

  2. Hi Sara, I've been designing for 14 years and in that time have worked for four showrooms and one cabinet manufacturer. The first two showrooms I worked for used 20/20, the third hand-drew everything, and the showroom I'm with now was deciding between AutoKitchen and Chief Architect and have decided to go with Chief Architect. When I was a rep with a very large cabinet manufacturer, they only supported 20/20 so any of my 66 dealers who used software, used 20/20.

  3. Sara Baldwin says:

    I know you've written in the past about what a fan you are of SketchUp, and it's on my list of things I will try when I find the time. But what I'd really like to know is: How many kitchen showrooms actually USE these programs?

  4. Paul Anater says:

    I would say that all of them use a modeling program. 20/20 is a dead end and is starting to lose market share as designers discover other software that shows off 3D images better.

  5. I use Sketchup as my exclusive modeling program. A few years ago, I got really frustrated with 2020's stability, price, and total lack of support. While Sketchup isn't a 100% replacement for 2020, I have come up with other solutions to replace the few things that Sketchup doesn't do.

    Bottom line is Sketchup is super easy to use, makes great drawings, and above all else, it helps me sell designs better then anything else out there.

    Feel free to contact me if you have any questions about it.

    • Peggy C. Rimkus says:

      Am in market for KB software, have used 20/20, ProKitchen and recently played with Chief Architect. Also tutor AutoCAD Architecture. Chief A and Sketchup don’t do pricing for cabinets and that’s a lot of work to have to reenter. Does AutoKitchen do pricing?

  6. Beth says:

    Hi Sara,
    I met with Miguel at KBIS last week and was nearly sold on AutoKitchen- the only thing holding me back was the cost. Being an AutoCAD user for many years AutoKitchen is a no-brainer. I do a lot of custom kitchens and baths so 20-20 not going to do anything for me. I'll test drive Chief Architect but I feel strongly AutoKitchen is the one for me.

  7. Sara Baldwin says:

    I spoke with someone else at KBIS who also loves Auto-Kitchen. I am a complete neophyte concerning all kitchen design programs, but I can imagine how useful they'd be. And Miguel certainly was a delight to work with!

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About Me

Sara BaldwinSara Baldwin

Exmore, Virginia, United States

New Ravenna Mosaics founder and Creative Director, Owner, Sara Baldwin Design, Bass guitar player, Envisioner, Appreciator of the Sublime and Ridiculous.


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