Creating the Essential Kitchen

Article Submitted by Kevin Henry, Director of Business Development at Vinotemp®

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Photo Courtesy of Christian Woo Modern Furniture Design

The evolution of the modern kitchen has grown far from its primary function of food preparation, to that of “the social center of the home”. A place where the family, both nuclear as well as tribal, still gather to share, rejuvenate and commune together.

Today the kitchen is still the gathering place of the tribe, but the walls have come down and this once hidden and secluded place is now part of a larger social arena. It serves as a meeting place, a dining room, a home-office, a place to do homework; it can even serve as a hide away for quite reflection, or a place to gather for fun and entertainment.

Today’s kitchen has become a place that defines the home and those that live within it. This once private domain of the feminine world has now given way to the new social order and reflects the world that we live in. Today we find that everyone is welcomed in the kitchen. More and more family members and friends are invited, if not encouraged to participate in the ritual of preparation.

And with this increased activity and additional bodies in a high-traffic ballet of fire, boiling water and sharp pointy things…we find that the assembly-line kitchen of the past with its uniform horizon of sink, dishwasher, cook-top, oven and refrigerator, forever locked in its limited one-person “work-triangle”, must give way to a new way of thinking.

In our recent past, the collective thought of modern kitchen design was to create the “illusion of order”. This was accomplished by hiding the true function of the kitchen. By hiding the food, the waste and the appliances, we create the illusion of productivity and efficiency by hiding the process. In the new school of thought, the belief is that the kitchen must be efficient to be productive, an environment that is conducive to the task at hand. It is about changing the way we think about this space we call “kitchen” and our individual relationships to it.

It’s about creating an environment that allows us to experience new ideas and to rediscover aspects of our lives that have been lost in the daily rush of life.

This new approach is to think first about the fundamental aspects of the kitchen, what we want from it and how this space can be utilized to its full potential. We must view this space as a whole and understand the relevance and position of every item and detail in it, from the largest stew-pot to the tiniest teaspoon.

In the past the appliances dictated the form and flow of the kitchen, the sink under the window, the dishwasher to the right or left of the sink, the cook-top with its 12 inches on either side, the double oven that is used only for holidays and special occasions and the refrigerator, this monolith of modern technology that dominates the space. Today, we must place the individual or individuals and the task first and then the appliance and the space needed to fulfill the task. With a variety of people and activities we must create a fluid, interactive, multi-functional arena, where tools and materials are close at hand and within a given task boundary.

The kitchen, in its new domestic role, finds itself reflecting a family style based on the sharing of traditional roles and function. The living area embraces the kitchen as an arena, were food is prepared, people talk, homework is finished and guests are entertained. Today’s kitchen is open to the rest of the home, and as such, the kitchen now must function on several levels, from food preparation to social interaction, from entertainment center to living-room. More furniture, than cupboards, the modern kitchen blends seamlessly into the living areas of the home, successfully achieving the delicate balance between form and function. Summary…when the kitchen is not acting as a kitchen, it must be furniture.

Simple and clean, open and inviting, the exclusion of all things extraneous, this is the foundation to the Essential Kitchen. A kitchen without boundaries or barriers, a kitchen free from conventional thought and restrictions, a kitchen created to reflect the individual.

The Essential Rules

1. The elimination of all things extraneous

2. Keep it simple and clean, open and inviting

3. A kitchen without boundaries or barriers

4. A kitchen created to reflect the individual.

5. A multi-functional arena

6. The essential kitchen is open to the rest of the home

7. Strive to achieve a delicate balance between form and function

8. When not acting as a kitchen, it must take in the appearance of furniture.

9. Everyone is welcome in the essential kitchen

10. The essential kitchen must be efficient to be productive

11. It must be an environment that is conducive to the task at hand

12. We must place the individual at the center and then address the task

13. We must create a fluid, interactive, multi-functional arena

14. Seek harmony and balance to define the whole.

15. The essential kitchen is centered on the duality of purpose and space.

About the Author, Kevin Henry

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Designer, writer and speaker, Kevin Henry has been a “thought-leader” to the kitchen industry for over 30 years and is sought out for his views and observations regarding market trends and industry direction. His blog, The Essential Kitchen, is followed world-wide by both consumers as well as industry and media leaders. Kevin is invited to speak internationally on a wide range of topics, including luxury branding, sustainable kitchen design and market trends. Mr Henry has been behind the success of such iconic brands as Snaidero, Poliform/Varenna, Küppersbusch, ALNO and DACOR in North America. Today, Kevin is the Director of Business + Product Development for VINOTEMP, a leading manufacturer of architectural wine solutions.

Click here to view Kevin Henry's complete profile.

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