If you take away the dominance of food, what comes next? If cooking was the purpose of the 19th and early 20th century kitchen, what activities will take us into this century’s kitchen space?
As back rooms that were places of work for women, where the unremitting daily tasks of caring and providing were carried out, kitchens were not places of fun or leisure, but were rather more of duty and purpose. As household tasks are now increasingly shared between both genders, the contemporary kitchen has become a place where we can mix our domestic activities with enjoyable ones such as chatting, snacking or reading the newspaper.
In these happier kitchen times, our spaces are tailored to suit our instinctive needs – space, light, communication and nature. The kitchen is now a liberated space. So what’s next? What behaviours will influence how kitchen designers create the kitchen of the future? To predict or anticipate this we need to look at how we live in and utilise the whole house.
Rooms have broken down their ‘use’ barriers, essentially become more multipurpose and open plan. Their conventional labels don’t necessarily apply anymore. Technology (and I say this with care because I have always been a bit of a sceptic regarding claims that it changes us as people) is playing a big role.
The proliferation of iPods, 3G phones and laptops democratically spreads the use of technology to allow it everywhere in the house. Every room can now be a media room, work room, game room or reading room, although not a kitchen! The cellular structure of the house is disintegrating and the kitchen is not just not exempt, but at the forefront.
Over the last few decades, the kitchen has been the most active room in the house in terms of evolutionary use. Dining rooms fell under the remit of the kitchen twenty years ago, being relocated to the front of the house. The various functions of the living room have also accrued over a similar time frame and now hallways, gardens and multimedia are in the orbit of the kitchen.
Five socio-economic forces that might account for these changes include: shortage of time because both men and women work: women’s liberation (if you are in doubt of this look at kitchens in Asia or the Middle East); open plan living with its addiction to light space; less formal social attitudes and behaviours; the widespread adoption of central heating; and changed attitudes about food and cooking.
Stay tuned for more on the evolution of the post-culinary kitchen.