Furniture giant, IKEA, recently set out to answer some critical questions about the most important room in a home.
What will the kitchen of the future look like and what will it feel like to cook, eat and socialize in it?
Recognizing that the time to build the kitchen of the future is now, IKEA partnered with innovation and design firm IDEO London and a group of students from Lund and Eindhoven universities to explore the social, technological, and demographic forces that will impact how we behave around food in 2025.
After researching people’s attitudes and ideas about cooking and eating, the students collated six themes that could predict how we might behave around food in the future. They can be summarized as follows:
1) The enlightened kitchen
Recognizing that food out of sight is food out of mind, kitchen storage will inspire conservation and creative use rather than waste. This will eliminate buying redundant items and not using things that are already in the kitchen.
2) The collaborative kitchen
As more people move to cities and share less space, the idea of private and public is constantly changing. City living will help sharing become the new owning. In that vein, the collaboration kitchen is about designing for the social aspect of cooking; allowing cooking experiences to connect people through a shared activity.
3) The mindful kitchen
Appliances in the kitchen of the future will embrace human tactility, expression and skills. The mindful kitchen will be designed for interactions that engage us with food and make us appreciate it more, creating an emotional connection between people and the ingredients and resources they are working with.
4) The everywhere kitchen
In the near future, we will be living more nomadic lives, moving more often, and opting for smaller, more temporary and more efficient homes. Kitchens, therefore, will be simple, easier to change on the fly, and able to be modified for changing needs.
5) The technological kitchen
At the moment, technology does not naturally fit into people’s actions and behaviors in the kitchen, but rather distracts from social activities and food. In the future, kitchens will be augmented with intuitive and unobtrusive technology. Kitchens will have a better and more meaningful role for technology, and the technology will fit us, rather than the other way around.
6) The democratic kitchen
People are becoming more interested in making things that are real, not virtual: growing, cultivating, experimenting, making and building. The kitchen is the perfect place to encourage people to become designers and create solutions that do not exist today.
Inspired by these themes, IDEO designers then created a prototype kitchen as part of a pop-up exhibition alongside this year’s EXPO Milan, which runs until 31 October.
The Mindful Sink pushes its user to be more conscious of water consumption. The basin pivots left and right: one side for draining toxic, or “black” water, and the other for safe “grey” water. This “grey” water can be filtered and used in a dishwasher or to water herbs that grow above the sink.
The Thoughtful Disposal system reminds the user of exactly what is being thrown away. Recycling is manually sorted from rubbish, and recyclables are then crushed, vacuum-packed, and labeled for pick-up.
The Table For Living is designed to inspire people to be more creative with food and throw away less. Just place leftover broccoli on the table, and a camera recognizes what it is and projects recipes, cooking instructions, and a timer directly onto the surface. Set the timer for the amount of time you can spend preparing the meal, and the table suggests recipes that can be completed in the window you have available. The table is perfect for a smaller urban dwelling: hidden induction coils instantly cool the surface when not in use, so it adjusts for working, cooking, or eating.
The Modern Pantry encourages users to have a closer relationship with what they eat by storing food in transparent individual containers on open shelves rather than hiding it at the back of a fridge. The design makes it easy to be inspired by what’s on hand rather than going out to buy more.
Induction-cooling technology embedded into the shelves keeps the containers at just the right temperature for whatever is being stored.
Gerry Dufresne, IKEA’s kitchen and dining range manager, explains that the concept kitchen is not really a functional kitchen, but rather “a tangible communication of what the behaviors of the future will be.”
What would you like to see in the kitchen of the future? Tell us in the comments!