NEW YORK – When mulling over the kitchen of the future, images come to mind of appliances that coordinate everything from food prep to completed meal, and rooms that self clean and then disappear into the living space. It turns out that those concepts aren’t as far off as once thought, according to a recent study published by The Silestone Institute.
Cosentino’s study – Global Kitchen: The Home Kitchen in the Era of Globalization – examines and forecasts the main design and usage trends for the kitchen between now and 2042. Findings were compiled from 17 international experts and over 800 kitchen and bath retailers, and highlight how connectivity, health and wellness, multi-functionality and design will shape the kitchen over the next 25 years.
President of the Silestone Institute, Francisco Martínez-Cosentino noted the goal of the project is for Global Kitchen to become a reference for professionals and consumers. He remarked, “Our aim is to research and develop solutions that provide design, add value and inspire people’s lives. In this framework, we want to imagine and anticipate how the home kitchen will evolve in the future.”
“Global Kitchen creates the opportunity for multidisciplinary reflection to analyze the effect of globalization on kitchen design, to determine how this space will develop over the next 25 years,” added Santiago Alfonso, global marketing director for the Cosentino Group
Across all respondents, most of refurbishment investments are allocated to new cabinets (77.4 percent), followed by new countertops (64.6 percent) and large appliances (60 percent). In the U.S. alone, however, more importance is given to structural elements, like space organization and new walls and floors.
Users’ kitchen style preferences in the future are virtually split between modern-minimalist and classic-traditional. The U.S. landed in the classic style preference.
STYLE & OPEN DESIGN
At a recent gathering at Cosentino City Manhattan in New York, company representatives, along with a few of the industry experts consulted for this study, provided insight into the thoughts expressed in Global Kitchen. The panel discussion included: moderator Ana Granados, manager of Cosentino Manhattan City Center; Alfonso of Cosentino Group; Marc Kushner, partner at architecture firm Hollwich Kushner, and co-founding CEO of Architizer; Jo-Ann Makovitzky, restaurateur and CEO, of One Five Hospitality; Patricia Moore, designer gerontologist and president at MooreDesign Associates, and Susan Serra, CKD, kitchen designer, blogger and president at Susan Serra Associates.
As mentioned, the U.S. market is viewed as leaning toward the classic-traditional style when it comes to design, especially when compared to the sleeker, more modern styling of European clients. Today’s classic does not reflect the old, stuffy, ornate elements of traditional, however, instead encompassing comfort and incorporating items that invoke a feeling of things remembered.
“There is nostalgia for a simpler way of living,” noted Serra. She reported that, since the 1950s, it’s been all about acquiring and storing things. “Now we’re seeing a return to simple lines and comfortable furnishings, and making the kitchen more like a second sitting room.” As a result, she believes that in the future, designs will have less cabinetry and larger windows for more natural light. “The design focus will be on well being,” she stressed.
Serra also sees homes – and kitchens – in the U.S. getting smaller. “We are becoming aware of the environmental costs of always wanting to live in larger spaces,” she explained. “Now, we are moving toward giving less importance to size and looking instead to satisfaction in product quality, the impact our purchases have on our environment and how general health and well-being can factor into those values.”
Moore believes the next generation of kitchens will embrace adaptability and enhance individual ability. “Kitchens will continue to become more flexible, with some elements, like water sources and cooking stations, possibly becoming movable. The evolution of the kitchen we will witness will focus around food ‘islands’ spread around all the rooms of a house to meet the needs of every resident for their lifespan,” she stresses.
One of the other ways that flexibility will play into kitchen design is its morphing into family living spaces. According to Alfonso, 81 percent of respondents believe in opening the kitchen to the dining and living rooms.
There are several reasons that this design style continues to gain popularity. Obvious is the desire on the part of the homeowner to stay connected with friends and family while entertaining or doing everyday tasks. The interest in the open floor plan will continue to push the creation of products that work for all the needs of the space, such as hygienic and durable surfaces, hidden storage and integrated appliances. Designers are even finding new ways to hide sinks and faucets when not in use, giving the overall space a seamless appearance.
Kushner noted that the space is evolving to where there will be no classical definition of rooms. “The kitchen will be the center of life that all of the other rooms rotate around,” he commented.
Granados also acknowledged another reason for the continued interest in open floor plans, and that is the rise in popularity of cooking shows. “Television shows have strongly influenced design; chefs are rock stars,” she explained.
“Now, everyone wants to be in the kitchen, even the kids,” added Makovitzky. “Families are replacing playing Monopoly on the living room floor with playing ‘Chopped.’”
HEALTH AND TECHNOLOGY
TV chefs and the desire to eat healthier are slowly changing the way homeowners approach not only cooking, but what and how they purchase.
Makovitzky believes kitchens of the future will need less and less storage space because people will be getting away from boxed, processed foods. “There will be no pantries in future kitchens,” she stressed, “as people will get fresh food every day.”
Those assembled noted the increasing interest in lighted cabinets, refrigerators and growing stations that can maintain herbal and vegetable gardens right in the kitchen.
Locally grown produce and people doing everything online – meaning more time for outdoor recreation – may have a significant impact on healthy eating and a healthy lifestyle, added Serra. “I think we are in a major disruption in how we cook,” she continued, noting that the popularity of companies like Blue Apron and home grocery delivery are allowing people to enjoy the cooking process more and eat more healthfully. “A home kitchen may already have a sous vide cooking appliance, a convection steam oven, a quick freezer or vacuum sealer. These and other kitchen tools that help preserve the quality of food” are garnering attention.
“Appliances – especially the fridge – will be increasingly smarter,” believes Moore, and will be key to healthier people and healthier homes. “It will not only notify us when running low on milk, but will let mothers know the best food to give a sick child, help us maintain a healthy weight and to take care of ourselves if we develop a chronic condition, such as diabetes. I envision the refrigerator becoming the communication and provision brain of our home.”
Alfonso believes the technological changes the U.S. kitchen is most likely to experience will include connectivity, smart appliances and less waste. Countertops themselves will deliver connectivity for various devices as well as induction cooking capabilities – things that are already available.
The worktops of the future will also be able to cook, make calls, broadcast TV or provide access to the internet. They will be height adjustable, contain ingredient information and recipe databases where chefs will guide the user through the method, and be able to weigh food.
“I like the idea of being able to have a conversation with my kitchen, being able to ask: ‘What should I eat today?’” offered Moore. And with the latest smart technology, that concept is just about reality. ▪