Award-Winning NKBA Member Ellen Cheever Donates Her Life’s Work to Virginia Tech
November 21, 2018
Ellen Cheever, an influential figure in the 1980s in her role as director of educational services for the NKBA, along with Dr. Julia Beamish, head of the Virginia Tech Apparel, Housing and Resource Management Department, jointly announced the donation of Cheever’s life’s work titled, “The Ellen Cheever Kitchen & Bath Collection 1971-2018” to the Virginia Tech Center for Real Life Design, Blacksburg, Va. Cheever is a Certified Master Kitchen & Bath Designer (CMKBD) and is principal of Ellen Cheever & Associates in Wilmington, Del.
The center offers students and professionals a laboratory for exploring residential design and technologies that address the demands of families and consumers. It includes six operational kitchens, representing various price levels, product selections and space designs. The kitchens also reflect the diversity of today’s households and include features that accommodate young children, older adults and people with disabilities.
A special new space, the Cheever Design Library within the Center, also designed by Cheever, will house the department’s historical files as well as the Cheever collection of publications and resources spanning her 48-year career in the kitchen and bath industry. The library space itself features products provided by leading industry firms including Plain & Fancy Cabinetry, Corian Quartz Surfaces and Häfele America Decorative Hardware and LED lighting system.
“Ellen Cheever is truly inspiring, and the donation of her body of work is a gift to us all,” said Suzie Williford, executive vice president of industry relations and chief strategy officer of the NKBA. “Ellen’s meticulous and transformative collection of works and teachings will be studied for years to come.”
The collection contains her career overview, supported by 11 binders, each brimming with materials about the kitchen and bath industry during the past 50 years. All of her original consumer and trade publication columns are included, as well as each of the original editions of textbooks — 20 years’ worth of the CEU-approved full day, as well as her one-hour, in-person and online programming — have been digitized. Included in the collection are samples of her business papers and personal journals. Her contributions to and tireless efforts on behalf of the NKBA remain unparalleled.
“Ellen is a big name in the kitchen and bath industry as a designer, writer and educator,” said Beamish. “She helped to conceptualize our center and set up its advisory board in the 1990s.”
Cheever first gained national recognition in the 1970s and 1980s when she published several textbooks and conducted training programs across the U.S. and internationally. Her focus from 2000 onward was leading her private consulting business based in Wilmington, Del. Her industry work continues today as she contributes to the marketing efforts of respected manufacturers in the kitchen and bath industry. Additionally, she enjoys a flourishing residential design business she shares with her husband Pietro Giorgi, CMKBD.
“I hope my experiences, both personal and professional, will help someone reading my story or studying these materials be better prepared for their professional life ahead,” said Cheever. “With all of life’s ups and downs, I learned from many great people over my career and this is my way of giving back.”
Cheever’s contribution of her collection was celebrated with the Cheever Design Library dedication on Nov. 1. Virginia Tech hosted an afternoon of events open to the university and industry professionals. During a presentation titled “Reflections of a Career in Kitchen and Bath Design,” Cheever chronicled five decades of design styles as well as her career successes and challenges.
As part of the celebration, an exhibit of her work created by Dr. Kathleen Parrott in the Wallace Hall Gallery showcased early-published works by Cheever as well as a series of posters highlighting her industry contributions and career challenges during the past 48 years.
A reception completed the day-long series of events with Beamish and Cheever cutting a ribbon in front of the new library space during a reception in the Center for Real Life Design, housed in Wallace Hall.
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