Similar to cooking, lighting design is an art form where passion, precision, and taste blend together to create memorable experiences for guests to enjoy. Kevin Vesel, principal and designer at Veselbrand Studios, taps his talents to build extraordinary kitchens that inspire delicious meals — all brought to life with customized lighting solutions.
A designer and tastemaker in his own right, Vesel first learned about the power of lighting in his early days as a trained photographer. He worked with some of the biggest names in photography to shoot fashion, beauty products, cars, and more, and in his 20 years as a photographer, he mastered how to control light and create moods for every occasion.
Now, Vesel leads Veselbrand Studios, a leading kitchen design firm based in Denver, Colorado. Vesel and his team design, fabricate, install, and illuminate some of the finest contemporary kitchens in the world, and they have reimagined more than 600 spaces in the last 15 years.
Read our exclusive interview with Vesel to learn how he and his team design luxurious yet functional contemporary kitchens, along with lighting design tips to make kitchens and other spaces feel even more special.
Cooking with Light: Illuminating Kitchens
Kitchen lighting design has become a true calling card for you and your firm. What led to this specialty?
It was probably my passion for creating moods from my photography days. I just couldn’t shake it and it was infused into every design we have done.
Why is the kitchen a special space?
It’s the hub of the home. It’s where we break bread, share laughter, wrap gifts and enjoy late-night cooking — and it all happens within a 20-foot radius.
What is the most interesting residential kitchen space you have ever illuminated?
The Lundy Residence in Aspen was both interesting and challenging. During the day, it’s filled with daylight, and the play of light, shadows, shapes, and volume make the space super interesting. But in the evenings, the high vaulted ceiling that towers 15 feet above the kitchen made it difficult to evenly light and create that special, intimate ambience for evenings with friends.
Using some interior cabinet lighting and a perimeter glow really helped make the kitchen space inviting and personal for a dinner party (or a late-night snack).
What are non-negotiable rules when lighting a kitchen?
For me, it’s no toe kick lighting. It’s not natural, kind of like sticking LEDs under the running boards of a truck.
Are you a good cook? If so, what’s your favorite dish to prepare?
I am a good cook — cooking is my passion and maybe my next career! I cook everything, from enchiladas to posole and scallops to mushroom risotto. However, I don’t share the tiramisu!
Collaborating with Luminii
What is special about Luminii’s partnership with your business?
I had seen years of LED rope lighting and dotted fixtures, which are unnatural. They take people’s attention away from experiencing the essence of a space. While I was spending time in Italy searching for materials and accessories for our customers’ spaces, I came across Luminii. The products blend form and function (in true Italian fashion).
We use many of Luminii’s products in our spaces, from integrated lighting in shelves and under cabinets to backlit panels in pantries. The possibilities are endless with soft glows, clean dot-free lighting, and more.
What are the most important aspects of a powerful relationship with a lighting manufacturer, and how does Luminii meet those needs?
Reliability and the desire to always push the envelope in acquiring new technology, as well as the people who meticulously design, test, produce, and deliver this flawless product line, are critical. We recently outfitted our entire new showroom building with lighting from Luminii and one of its new partners, Senso by Luminii. The lighting will give us full control of every aspect to create something that is memorable to each and every client that comes into our space.
What are your go-to products?
We also just engineered a new product with Luminii by combining a base cove lighting extrusion with RGBW tape to use as vertical fixtures in a $450,000 closet.
What are you confident Luminii will deliver to you and other valued partners in the coming months and years?
My relationship with the company is something I appreciate, and being able to talk to the right people to answer questions and assist with samples or information is priceless. I have never had a late shipment and never had a fixture fail.
This seamless and impressive feat tells me they have time to look forward to the future, rather than being tied up fixing issues from past sales.
Timeless Tricks & Trends
What is your approach to using natural light when lighting a space?
Nowadays, we see so many glass windows around indoor-outdoor living spaces. Balancing the subtraction and diffusion of natural light and seamlessly integrating and controlling RGBW lighting is an excellent way to provide a natural rhythm to work-from-home days.
How do you remain creative and true to your signature approach whether a budget is small or large?
Using less and strategically-placed lighting can help make tasks easier and more enjoyable, like prepping food or cleaning up after dinner.
On a related note, it’s not unusual for us to gift lighting to a client just to add something special that they weren’t expecting.
For any space, what are one or two “tricks” you have in your hat for impressing a client?
We like to make all of our tall pull-out pantry cabinet backs in a diffused plexiglass, and then bounce light from a white panel located behind the cabinet. When you’re looking for a midnight snack, the light bathes you in a soft and dot-free glow.
How do you assess a client’s satisfaction with a project?
They call you at 10:30 p.m. on a Wednesday night and whisper “I love my kitchen” into the phone.
I say I have completed more than 600 kitchens, and as a result, I probably have 588 best friends that will let me show off their kitchens to new clients at any time. That is satisfaction.
Your Philosophy Around Light
If one thing is true about lighting any space, what would you say that is?
Envisioning the end use, and using control and the variation of tools in your quiver to achieve flexibility.
What makes the biggest difference to projects?
Spending quality time with clients is always beneficial to achieving the best results.
Who is your ultimate lighting hero, and why?
Lighting Designer and president Gregg Mackell at 186 Lighting in Denver has always been someone who has more knowledge, experience, and passion than anyone I have met in the industry. His portfolio is so vast and varied, and I love when I find out we are working on the same projects.
What music artist/song summarizes your philosophy to lighting?
“Here Comes the Sun” by the Beatles.
About Veselbrand Studios
How does your firm, Veselbrand Studios, represent your core vision for lighting?
Being up to date on what’s possible and working with a team of specialists at Luminii give us major advantages over our competition, as we are able to educate our clients and incorporate the best products for every budget. After all, the lighting is really great and makes everything else look its best.
What makes Veselbrand Studios unique?
Our contemporary cabinetry emphasizes European aesthetics of design, timeless materials, and luxurious finishes. Designed and built in the U.S. using world-class craftsmen, fabricators, and finishers, and having partnered with an assemblage of the finest suppliers both here and in Europe, the end result is a full line of contemporary cabinetry intended for the luxury home market.
By offering a wider range of finish options, localized production, and a broad knowledge base, Veselbrand™ cabinetry has the ability to be scaled up or down depending on client needs and project budgets.
We take care of every aspect of a project from start to finish, from conceptual design, on-site measurements, supervision of production, and final installation. Our team, together with an established network of local professionals and skilled artisans, strives to turn each and every project into a personalized and unique solution.
Is there anything else you would like to share?
Anything but my tiramisu…