By J. Brisby and M. Schofield


In traditional societies where there were no servants, kitchens isolated from the rest of the house and family were unknown. Even though cooking was probably in the hands of the women, the “hearth”, the place where the food was made and eaten was the heart of the family life.

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When servants took over the function of cooking in the palaces and manor houses of the rich, the kitchens were naturally separated from the dining halls.  Then during the 19th century as the use of servants became more widespread, the growing middle class adapted the isolated kitchen as a fashionable and accepted part of the house.

Unfortunately, when the servants disappeared, the kitchen was still separate, leaving the mid-twentieth century woman who was typically the cook and nurturer and who accepted responsibility for making food, agreeing to isolate herself in the kitchen and in some ways become a servant.

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In the meantime, kitchens in farmhouses were more like the traditional hearth.  Work and family activities were completely integrated in one big room.  The family activity centered around a big table in the middle where they ate, talked, played cards, did homework, and everyone helped with work of all kinds including some of the food preparation, shelling peas, slicing apples for pies, kneading dough for rolls, etc.

Social sustainability  deals with rights of all humans for instance why should the housewife be isolated as a servant in the kitchen, and why indeed should not all members of the household if they are all living productive lives inside and outside the home not all help with meal preparation especially if they enjoy doing so?

Since the 1950’s, not only have social dynamics changed within the “family hierarchy”, but who makes up the “family” dominated these changes.  Mother was female and the nurturer and Father was the fiscal provider.  Looking to the future, the success of a well-designed kitchen, will be determined not by how beautiful it is or how advanced the gadgets/appliances are filling up the space, but ultimately how well the space functions to support the lifestyle of the user(s).


Today’s modern kitchen has shifted significantly to meet the evolving needs of a digital age.  Kitchens have expanded to include eat-in areas, social and prep zones, as well as various technologic amenities and places for families to gather.  Today more than ever, it has become an important demand that the kitchen serve as a place where the family can come together and get tuned in.  Many kitchens today include music capability, televisions, and an ability to co-mingle food preparation with social interaction.  In this contemporary example, we see a space that can serve the hearty demands of today’s fast-paced lifestyle (Trove).

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In addition to an increased pace of life, the modern family ideal as we know it has changed drastically since the “Leave it to Beaver” social norm developed in the 50’s.  Generations later, an uprise in divorce rates, greater recognition of gay marriage, and increasing awareness of social needs is beginning to change our idea of kitchen needs.  Gone are the days where mom says home to cook.  These days mom works, and sometimes there is no mom, or no father, or sometimes a mix thereof.  The point being, is that today’s kitchen must encompass a completely new dynamic of lifestyles and people that are becoming increasingly common in today’s diverse society.  Kitchens today are no highly customizable to meet the needs of the individual family, and in addition, it becomes a place to form and express social identity within the household (Trove).

Today’s kitchen is not only about meeting the needs of the individual, but it has also become a focus within the household to express personal and social identity.  It serves as a place for family and family members to display their personal style, interests, as well as create a platform in which guests may come and interact with their hosts in a personal way.  In the face of two economic recessions, a war overseas, and rising global concerns regarding ecological fortitude, we are seeing new and  creative design approaches.  I once read somewhere that the most creative ideas often come from nothing.  If you’ve ever known a friend on a meager budget who always manages to look chic, you know what I mean.  In order for he or she to accomplish this envious skill, it often requires a creative eye to style and merchandise items by making the best of what you have and can find.  Architectural salvage and vintage goods are a great way to incorporate this idea you’re your living space.  Not only does this save money, it’s kind to the environment, and ads instant character.  Now more than ever, people face a global need to repurpose and reuse (Design

Below we see a chic and thrifty example of this within a renovated 1930’s flat.  This Parisian couple has incorporated a unique collection of vintage and household items in pleasing, chromatic hues.  The color is pulled together in a punchy, graphic tablecloth, and a delicate scale is noted throughout. The result is a space that is fun, airy, and give guests an opportunity to interact with the tastes of their hosts, as well as owners the opportunity to meet their daily needs with adequate shelving, a fold down work station, with ample seating, table space, and lighting (Design Although they have opted to interpret the décor in a modern way, it’s vintage roots give a subtle nod to the home’s historic charm.

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The kitchen of the future will be a continuation of the farmhouse kitchen, that is it will be a large room full of activity, but it will be ”high-tech, ultra-efficient, green, and even mood-altering spaces designed for much more than cooking,” says David H. Freeman.

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Among the conclusions of The Future Laboratory think tank in London, “the world’s expanding population will live in urban areas, creating greater demand for smaller, multipurpose kitchen spaces, a need for efficiency will lead to new food-preparation technologies, and an ever-growing dependence on digital connectedness will vastly accelerate the trend to integrate entertainment and social networks into everything that’s done in the kitchen, turning the space into a media center.”

According to that report, an increasing desire to live in village-like communities rather than sprawling suburbs will promote the wide-scale creation of private and local food gardens and farms.  A rising concern with wellness will make kitchens centers of nutrition with a heightened focus on eating more farm-fresh vegetables and fruits.

Finally, growing environmental consciousness will lead people to embrace green, sustainable kitchens, along with outdoor cooking and eating spaces with all the conveniences of indoor kitchens.

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Kinoshita Mann, an architectural professor at University of Massachusetts sees the kitchen of the future as designed to allow several people to comfortably and efficiently cook together, or even use the space to work on projects unrelated to cooking and eating.

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He envisions long, narrow counters with four stove burners arranged side by side rather than back to front; extra-wide double sinks; doorless cabinets that allow easy access to ingredients.  Utensils, cutlery, crockery will be easily accessible.  A large island with a flat unaccessorized top will make the room useful for multiple cooks as well as nonfood projects.  To complete the picture and extend the kitchen area, the adjacent living space can be raised more than a foot so that people sitting in it can be at nearly eye level with those standing in the kitchen.  Every surface in the kitchen is to be height-adjustable to accommodate children and those in wheelchairs as well as adults of many sizes.  “I tried to avoid the conventional kitchen command-center architecture that’s really only good for one person doing all the cooking,” he says “I wanted several people to be able to work in the kitchen without getting in each other’s way, or having to dodge cabinet doors.”

Studies show increasing heterogeneity of familial forms — with relations in the future extending beyond biological or conjugal boundaries.  And to this has been added the discussion around what might be termed the increasing importance of multigenerational bonds, i.e., relations spanning more than two generations, increasingly diverse in structure and functions, and enhancing – even replacing in some cases – the nuclear family form.  All of these must be taken into account when thinking of the kitchen of the future.

Ruth Oldenziel, a professor of American and European history at the Eindhoven University of Technology in the Netherlands sums it up. “In every generation, the kitchen of the future is a sort of passport photo for innovation,” she says. “Yes, the technological breakthroughs are part of the picture, but they’re not the drivers anymore.  Today’s kitchen designers and innovators are focused on who we’re going to be, and what that means for food and the main place in which we cook and often consume it.”

To address a growing focus on gardens, sustainability, and wellness, Kinoshita Mann sees a “wet room” next to the kitchen with an extra-large counter and sink and a draining floor, so that fresh, unpackaged produce pulled right out of the garden or from a local farm can be sprayed down and hung from overhead racks to dry.



Alexander, Christopher, Sara Ishikawa, and Murray Silverstein. A Pattern Language: Towns, Buildings, Construction. New York: Oxford UP, 1977. Print.

Susanka, Sarah, and Kira Obolensky. The Not so Big House: A Blueprint for the Way We Really Live. Newtown, CT: Taunton, 1998. Print.

Trove Interiors: Sponge :


Trove Interiors:

Design Sponge :


“The Kitchen of the Future.”:  Food + Cooking : Web. 27 Apr. 2012. <;

Stevens, Barrie. “The Future of the Family to 2030-A Scoping Report.” OECD, 19 Dec. 2008. Web. 27 Apr. 2012.