By Y. Park and J. Youn

The role of the kitchen in our homes has changed dramatically over the years. What used to be a space simply used for food preparation has now become the hub of the home. Today, cooking is accompanied by a greater variety of activities such as entertaining, socializing, dining, working, laundry etc. As our use of the kitchen has changed, the technology that is used within it has had to adapt to meet our needs.

Past

In the past, kitchen space was huge compared to other rooms in the house cause of lack of appliances, tools, and needs of many people to prepare different food.

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Since they were self-sufficient foods by farming at that time, to consider the back yard as a range of kitchen, it was extensive space in the house compared to today’s one.

Photo Courtesy of time.com
Photo courtesy of thegef.org
Photo Courtesy of steedfarm.blogspot.com

In middle age, kitchen located between the entrance and the fireplace. Since open fire was the only method of heating food, kitchen was always dark, smoky and sooty places in the house. Also this open fire had a heating function of the living room around 10th to 12th centuries in Europe [1].

Photo Courtesy of Flick River

In wealthy homes, the ground floor was often used as a stable while the kitchen was located on the floor above, like the bedroom and the hall. In castles and monasteries, the living and working areas were separated; the kitchen was sometimes moved to a separate building. In the colonial period in America, kitchens were often built as separate rooms and were located behind the parlor and dinning room. Before the Industrial Revolution, people controlled all tasks in the kitchen and it used for only preparing food[2]. However, Technological advances and urbanization lifestyle during industrialization in 19th and 20th century brought major changes to the kitchen. Stove, sewers, electricity, and kitchenware replaced open fire, well, and storage jars in the kitchen. The space is getting smaller and it doesn’t consider as a smoky and dirty place of the house anymore. Also many smart control systems in the kitchen allow people to save the cooking time and make their life more convenience.

Present

Grocery store or super-markets are the names that people nowadays have given for a place where people purchase their needed items for living. Unlike the current self-service retailing system, the stores in the old days had assistance for each customer. When the customer orders what they need, assistance went fetching them. Also, the vegetables and fruits were not individually packed in which assistance had to measure and wrap the items that customer required. This process was very labor intensive and expensive. In 1916, American entrepreneur Clarence Saunders opened a store called Piggly Wiggly store in Memphis, Tennessee that was very innovative and revolutionary. This store had pre-packaged merchandise on shelves which customers can look and choose what they need by themselves. They were able to control what they are buying and how much they are buying. They began to check how fresh the vegetables are and see alternate items they could purchase. Browsing the store that is filled with goods meant they were given an ability to control the types of food they are bringing back to their kitchen. This types of grocery store was widely spread by 1920’s and by 1930’s, people were able to purchase fresh meat at the grocery store as well.

Photo Courtesy of bristolrising.com
Photo Courtesy of bristolrising.com

As amount of food that people bring in to their kitchen reduces due to pre-packaged product, the kitchen no longer had to be big. Not only the amount of food, but the storage unit has reduced and high technology appliance has helped reducing the size of kitchen. [3]

Photo courtesy of ikea.com
Photo courtesy of ikea.com

After this innovative grocery invention, another revolutionary market appeared in 20th century. By 1990’s, the first World Wide Web server was invented by Time Berners-Lee and online banking became possible by 1994. Such invention made the purchasing system even simpler. With access to computer and the online payment, people could purchase their food through computer at home.

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When they order, it is delivered to your door. It seems like the time went back to old days when assistance went fetching the items, but this time, people could do so while seating at home. This is not only possible at home but also available at the subway station while you are waiting for the train. Another difference is that customer can see variety of items that is available to purchase in picture and they can decide how much they want to order.

Photo Courtesy of thelaunchblog.com

Twenty years after the birth of online shopping, people have full control of what they are bringing into their kitchen, and now they want more. They want to control not only what they are bringing but also the process. It is similar to how the internet brought back the customer and assistance relationship. The future kitchen is bringing back farms from old days into their kitchen but in innovative manner that equips with modern technology.

Future                       

As mentioned above, present day market became easily accessible and present kitchen has been reduced in size. In summary, the market has moved from farm to assisted grocery shopping then to self-service system. However, as the technology introduced the internet access, the relationship between customer and the supplier is heading back to the past. Online grocery shopping mimics the relationship between assistant and the customer in early 1920’s when supermarket was first introduced. Yet the technology nowadays lets customer do so at home through internet. And now, the times is going even more to the past where the farming was primary source for food. Again, with the help of technology, people will be able to do so at home with few settings and clicks on their computer or smartphone. This system will not only reduce the travel time and effort to get food but the quality will also be improved.

One of the features that many companies are researching is having a little farm in the kitchen. [1]One of the pioneer companies in kitchen industry, Fagor Brandt integrated the idea with actual model.

Courtesy of freshome.com

This product combined farming at home idea with environment solution of generating renewable supply of clean water and vegetable soap. When the countertop is closed, the island is in washing mode. When it is opened, its function is back to cooking. Also, the vegetable will grow according to adjusted setting of the system which of course can be controlled by person.

Another product is Nano Garden by Hyundai. It is also called nature-based kitchen. This product focuses on getting organic food that is non-processed.[2]

Photo Courtesy of breakingprojects.com

Some other research is also done to grow fishes for seafood.

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This system uses hydroponic which eliminates the use of fertilizers. It also uses specific controlled lighting system that removes the need of sunlight. People can control the amount of light and amount of water and nutrient, meaning the growth speed is controllable.

Similarly, a product called Green Cycler uses food waste as fertilizer that act as nutrients that promotes the growth of vegetables. The stem part of these products informs the progress of the growth and also gives information about when to be harvested.Harvested vegetables are the food sources and the left over becomes back to the nutrient. All this process again, is controllable by the user.

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A concept of future kitchen has very broad that it can be approached from many different aspects. Controlling the kitchen is one of interesting parts to study among them. This controlled kitchen will equip technology but not to reach the high technology world but to be closer to the nature. This future kitchen will then provide people with better and healthier life-style.


Past and Present

[1] Michael Olmert,  Kitchens,  www.history.org/foundation/journal

[2] Kitchen, www.wikipidia.com

[3] Tesco Video Clip     http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fGaVFRzTTP4

Future

[1] http://www.designtopnews.com/green-design/compact-green-kitchen-of-the-future-green-design/

[2] http://www.ikeafans.com/home/kitchens-of-the-future-2040/

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