Tuesday, 9 March 2010

Kitchen Designs – Are We Missing the Boat?

Collage: Where Is Innovation in Kitchen Design?
I was asked recently to write another piece for the Wo-Built forum about kitchens. But as soon as I sat down to write it – bang – writer’s block! What to write? In the past we have written about kitchens, kitchen renovations and kitchen design ideas (see previous articles) and in general the topics have not changed. There are still the same styles, design principles and overall colour schemes than before. There is a need for appliances, sinks, countertop areas and storage. Colours are generally personal choice and styles can be mixed and matched.

I was not happy to revisit any of these topics without sounding boring. Then it struck me what had been bothering me for months about contemporary kitchens: the lack of innovation on a large scale. We have innovation in appliances and in new materials, but not in the fundamentals: the way we store things and the way we consider work and counter space. Storage is mainly achieved via wall hung and floor mounted kitchen cabinets, with limiting factors of height and available wall space. Counter space is the space generally in between or by the side of the stove, sink and other appliances. Maybe there is an island with extra counter space.

I believe we need new ideas. Why not look at storage solutions that use rack technology, hence giving the opportunity to double up. If there is the height why not use lift technology. Why not have the storage unit act as a wall between the rooms, hence saving space. Why not have counter tops that are retractable, or foldable to increase working surface. Why not bring surfaces down from the ceiling when required. All this is possible and not new, but somehow not explored.

What I feel is missing is the spirit of design that was prevalent in the 60s. This era was a period of design exploration and experimentation and some wonderful ideas still survive until today or were the basis for a lot of design. Everything was possible and often tried out, the bad with the good. I am not advocating retro design, but what I would like to see is much more design experimentation.

Hence I believe until we do look at the fundamentals again we are missing the boat in kitchen design.

Martina Ernst
Wo-Built Inc.
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sophie b said...

Here is a kitchen design that somewhat breaks the mold.

Of course it comes at a cost!

I do agree that kitchens could be so much more interesting. I think in the end is does come down to cost and to what people "know". It is difficult for most homeowners and builders to get away from the preconceived ideas of what a kitchen is or should be.

It would be interesting to explore the activities that happen in the kitchen as well as the rituals surrounding food.

Unknown said...

Hi Sophie,

I love your kitchen link. It is that sort of out-of-the-box thinking we need to bring more excitement to kitchen design. And I agree that the conventional use and view of the kitchen will have to be adjusted if we want to push the envelope.