FAQs

Who runs/manages the Diploma?

Learning should never stop, so that's why NKBA has partnered with BCITO to deliver the New Zealand Diploma in Kitchen Design. Contact the NKBA Head Office (info@nkba.org.nz or (03) 322 1957) to find out more about the course and to be connected with a local BCITO Training Advisor to confirm your eligibility and start the enrolment process. Your Training Advisor will support you throughout the course.

Who is the Diploma designed for?

Students need to be working in the kitchen industry and have a minimum of 6-12 months experience designing kitchens with CAD, as detailed plans are required for the assignments. You need to be working on kitchens from design through to installation. NKBA likes to make sure a student is ready before they take on the Level 5 Diploma - there is a good reason for this, as the course is set beyond a basic level. Before you begin your study, you need time in the industry to ensure you know the basics. We want you to feel comfortable and ready to start this journey.

How long does it take to complete the Diploma?

The Diploma is a two-year course. Each year begins with a one-week Off-Job block course, usually held in Auckland, Wellington, or Christchurch. The rest of the year is On-Job training, which includes two written assignments.

If you need to take a break during the course, for example maternity leave, it is possible to make these arrangements with BCITO.

What is the time commitment?

It usually takes around 40 – 80 hours to complete each assignment, spread out over five months. The time commitment required comes down to a student’s proficiency with CAD and drawing. It is recommended to start assignments early – perhaps spending one-two hours per week on study.

How much does it cost and what are the course dates?

Take a look at the course dates and fees page of our website.

What is covered in the course?

In the first-year block course, the main component is spatial planning and working through the 21 Spatial Design Guidelines that have been designed specifically for the New Zealand design industry. The Spatial Design Guidelines cover everything from ergonomics to acceptable working heights and other spatial requirements. We look at where design goes wrong and how we can do better, and we explore how to gather an appropriate client brief, site measurements, and presenting plans, as well as marketing, electrical, plumbing, and cabinetry design. As part of the course, students attend a fun day out, which normally involves a cooking demonstration and a visit to showrooms and manufacturers to improve product knowledge.

The second-year block course explores colour and design elements. We explore the power of colour, including colour theory, colour schemes, the colour wheel and colour psychology – a lot of clients are afraid of colour and designers need a clear understanding of the colour system and how to create harmony to suit the client's needs. We also cover design elements and design principles, and how to achieve a good design aesthetic. This includes the study of line, shape, form, space, balance, rhythm, emphasis, harmony, scale, and proportion. We examine lighting plans, schemes, fittings, effects, levels, and uses. In the technology section, we look at smart technology, automation, energy efficiency, and sustainability.

What skills will I walk away with at the end of the Diploma?

In addition to a comprehensive kitchen design education, it’s important that students walk away with skills such as the ability to listen to their clients and the confidence to charge for their design work. Our tutors want our students to place a value on their design work, as well as their knowledge, experience, and confidence - the Diploma takes commitment, so we want students to walk away proud of their achievement.

Cabinetmaker David Orchard says the Diploma has helped greatly with his personal confidence.

“It has helped build my knowledge and I have become more confident and better at what I do. The networking has also been fantastic and led to new opportunities. It’s also been great to be exposed to new ideas and new ways of doing things.”

What does the Diploma offer to designers who already have a lot of experience?

It gives your clients the confidence you know what you are doing and that you are capable of creating the complete package. Many experienced designers might not think they need to complete the Diploma, but clients like to work with people that they feel confident with. The Diploma helps provide this reassurance and it eliminates concerns over inexperience.

How is the course assessed?

The courses are assessed by NKBA tutors and BCITO Training Advisors. There is a strong partnership between NKBA and BCITO to ensure transparency and impartiality.

What else can NKBA offer students?

NKBA offers an automatic free NKBA student membership for the duration of study, which enables students to attend meetings and events held by their local NKBA Chapter. This is a fantastic way for students to extend their design knowledge and to network with the people that will support them on their career pathway.

Students can also attend the annual NKBA Conference which includes an educational Designer and Student Day, and all students are eligible for entry into the NKBA Student Design Competition.

Are their options for scholarships?

Designers of NKBA (DNKBA) scholarships are offered every year. Normally there are around three on offer annually – contact NKBA for more information.

BCITO sometimes offers scholarships, so keep an eye on the BCITO website. You can also talk to your Training Advisor to see what other perks or competitions might be on offer.

Can I take the course if I am self-employed?

We do have a lot of self-employed designers attending the course. BCITO assesses independent designers to see if they have the experience required to complete the Diploma. Ideally there would be a mentor or private contractor involved to assist the student with their studies. There is a $1000 surcharge (one-off) for self-employed students.

Is the Diploma a good option for cabinetmakers?

Yes, absolutely. It will give you a greater understanding of the full picture of kitchen design and improve your knowledge and abilities considerably. David Orchard, a cabinet maker and student agrees; he says ‘go for it!’

“I had 10-15 years in joinery experience, and it has made me more confident, particularly with customer satisfaction. It’s great to understand how to design something that is going to be fit for purpose, as well as look great. As a cabinet maker you don’t always think about design and so the course has been really helpful. It makes you quicker in designing a solution. If I could do it again, I would do it sooner.”

How do I know if it is the right time to study?

Everyone has different reasons to study, and when the time is right will come down to your ability to commit time and energy to your study and whether you have had enough time and experience in the industry to make the Diploma worth your while.

Danielle Fistonich says for her the time seemed right because she had the support from her employer and the determination to better her knowledge.

“I had completed a degree in spatial design, but it didn’t cover kitchen design as much as I would have liked. After a few years of experience in the industry, I wanted to gain more knowledge in lighting, colours, and material. When my employer asked if I would like to complete the Diploma, I jumped at the chance,” says Danielle.

Any tips or advice for those embarking on this exciting step?

Danielle says to stay committed, put your diploma on display, and network. NKBA says, take the leap, you won’t regret it!

How can I sign up for the course?

It’s easy – just contact NKBA and we will connect you with a local BCITO Training Advisor who will visit you to talk to you about your options and sign you up for the course. Visit the BCITO's website for more information about the course.