Leap of Faith
Luxury cabinetry designer extraordinaire Christopher Peacock reflects on his ascent and considers his future
It feels simplistic to call an illustrious design career a happy accident, but for Christopher Peacock, the British-born luxury cabinetry designer, that’s exactly how it played out.
“I got started in my career by accident, to be totally honest with you,” says Peacock. “I certainly wasn’t a kid who was driven by interior design—it was the last thing on my mind. I was much more interested in playing drums and trying to be a professional musician.”
But as the reality of the gig life set in, Peacock found that the glamour was fading fast. “Trying to be a professional musician, which is a loose description, meant that basically I wasn’t working,” laughs Peacock. “I was broke, and my friend’s father had a kitchen cabinet business and asked me if I wanted to drive their delivery truck on the weekends to make some extra money and help them out.”
Peacock’s weekend truck driving side hustle sparked a series of revelations, the first of which being that he inherently understood the design piece without any formal training. “I didn’t realize I had this sort of visual awareness up until that point,” he says, adding that he likely picked up this quality from his father, who managed a large construction company in London.
“He had a really good knowledge of construction and building things, and cabinetry was kind of like practical meets design, and it was a perfect, perfect job for me because I understood both sides of it, and I found it enjoyable to meet with and talk to clients,” he says. “Before I knew it, it became a job where I wasn’t driving the delivery truck anymore, but I was actually starting to design and create designs for clients.”
Peacock’s career was blossoming as he moved from one design firm to the next, more highly regarded firm, in London, when he was approached to come to the United States on what he thought was a short-term design contract. That was 30 years ago.
“After a few years, somebody approached me privately and said ‘Look, we like you, but we don’t like the product you’re representing. Could you work for us privately and help us design something?’” recalls Peacock, who completed the design work, only to have them return and ask if he could get the designs made as well. “I said, ‘Yes, I’ll make that happen.’ Then I resigned from my post, and I was in business. That’s how it started.”
While Peacock always believed he’d strike out on his own, this leap of faith, as he calls it, was the perfect catalyst at the perfect time. “Back then, I really didn’t have much to lose because I was just married and we didn’t have any children yet, so I thought, now’s the time.”
Peacock started with a small showroom display in Greenwich, Connecticut, which he calls the “home of the company,” before expanding into Chicago with a second showroom and manufacturing his own cabinetry.
Peacock considers two projects to be his most pivotal: The Westchester home for former president Bill Clinton and former secretary of state Hillary Clinton and the kitchen within Kip’s Bay Designer Showhouse in New York City, which he says is “like the Oscars” of the design business.
As for the future, Peacock laughs and says he’s just as excited and motivated today as he was thirty years ago, but there is one evolution that he’s most looking forward to. “I’m starting to hand over the daily running of the business to the next generation and becoming more of a mentor, and that really excites me,” he says.
“I see so much talent around me and people who are just raring to go. And I think it’s a really nice thing to be able to hand off, and it’s going to allow me the time to kind of do the thing I enjoy the most, which is to be creative again.”