By Kevin Y. Lee and Callie Ammidon
Ancient hunter gatherer communities consisted of family groups and small clans that frequently traveled to find berries, nuts and to keep up with moving wild animals. Their skills to create fire greatly optimized their living circumstances by providing heat, light and the ability to cook their food. The fire also served as a nuclear spot that encouraged conversation, activity during the night, and a stronger sense of community.
Jump to the 1950’s and the family dynamic has evolved with numerous cultural changes The kitchen concept has developed into the wife’s realm where women were typically expected to prepare and cook the food. Meals were cooked in the kitchen and served in a separate dining room where families gathered for meals and communal activity. Ample ventilation needs required that these two spaces be kept separate, as kitchen air has a considerable amount of grease, smoke and odors.
During this time, manufacturing companies also encouraged partially open plans that exposed portions of the kitchen to other spaces. We also see our first islands making way into these kitchens with new design motifs and more color. Frank Lloyd Wright explored the idea of the hearth as the “psychological center of the home,” incorporating the idea of family values integrated with architecture and space planning. Centrality of the hearth was emphasized with the ability to uplift spirits between host and guests.
In the 1980’s, new technologies allowed shifting trends in kitchen design and the open plan, such as the advent of extractor hoods and the incorporation of skylights. Today, the idea of cooking as a creative and social act has led to a wide range of kitchen spaces catered specifically for hosting and entertaining guests. The incorporation of open kitchen plans with dining and living rooms has changed traditional space allocations. Cooking is no longer a solo activity and meals are no longer served at 5:00 PM every day, but often in waves or in passing as people move from one activity in a packed work schedule to another.
The addition of the island in the kitchen layout has come to serve a variety of different functions. Allowing a tangential work space for cook tops, ranges, oven, garbage disposal and food preparation, islands can also be utilized for storage, seating, eating and hanging out. The trend of kitchen islands has established a new hearth in the home serving numerous functions by bringing people together to partake in a variety of activities at one central hub.
But what about the future of the kitchen island? Like everything else in our fast-paced, modern world, the kitchen island will be subject to the proliferation of technology and design innovation. Remaining a hub for food preparation and family gatherings, the symbolic ‘hearth of the home must continue to serve various needs, always remaining functional, comfortable, and providing enough space for a number of concurrent activities to take place.
Design developments in the shape and size of islands offer homeowners a number of choices for creating varied work zones. L-shaped plans allow the separation of preparation and gathering areas, while still promoting interaction among individuals. Separation of work zones can also be served by incorporating elements of varied heights, such as banquette seating or ‘semi-attached’ dining tables.
The largest impact on the future of the kitchen island, however, is the incorporation of continued technological advancements. From materials to space saving, multifunctioning technologies, the kitchen island of the future offers infinite possibilities for customization and configuration, allowing homeowners to develop the most appropriate solutions for their particular needs and spatial requirements.
Hi-Macs material technology allows fully customizable solutions for a variety of space restrictions or other client needs. Created from a combination of minerals, acrylic, and pigments that undergo heat treatment technology, this innovative ‘natural stone’ is moldable, virtually seamless, non-porous, and exceptionally hygienic.
Material advancements can be coupled with space saving technologies to achieve maximum impact for the smallest footprint. Retractable storage hides essentials within the mass of the island, creating the look of a streamlined surface when they are not in use. Similarly, fold or pull out elements increase surface area when needed, but seamlessly tuck away the remainder of the time.
Companies, such as Philips, offer their own forecast on the future of the kitchen island, proposing the idea of a ‘bio-digester’ island that would offer homeowners a sustainable solution for dealing with waste. Philips offers, “The bio-digester hub is designed as a repositionable kitchen island, including a chopping surface with vegetable waste grinder, a gas cooking range, a glass tank that shows energy reserves and glass elements showing pressure, volume and readiness of compost sludge. Materials used in the design are copper, cast iron, glass and bamboo.” This concept-piece would convert bathroom waste solids and kitchen compost into useable methane gas for powering different elements within the home.
Ultimately, in planning for the home of the future, it may be beneficial to consider the kitchen as a starting point for developing a floor plan and layout, with all other spaces in the home radiating from this central space. Just as the hunter-gatherers of the past were brought to together around the heath, all elements in the home of the future could be built around a nuclear “kitchen” that serves as a preparation, cooking, working, entertaining and socializing space. As technical advancements continue to develop, it is possible to consider that kitchens of the future could become islands entirely. These freestanding and all encompassing units afford homeowners the freedom to position them anywhere in the home, provided there is ample ventilation and circulation. Effectively freeing kitchen functions from the wall to create a central hub of important social activity, the kitchen island of the future will become a sustainable, space-saving solution for the family home, as well as for corporative communities, college dormitories, or even communal cafes. Technological innovation in the function and form of the kitchen island will offer continued freedom for a variety of aesthetically manipulated spaces based on social desire, spatial constraints, particular cooking needs and residence types.
Archaeological hearth as a source of fire, warmth, cooking, communal activity
Division of spaces
-Hearth (stressed by FLW) – psychological and physical center of the home
-Separate Kitchen / Dining Room
1900 – 1950’s Traditional separation of roles and activities and model of separate kitchen and dining rooms; Family dinner as communal activity, but with meal cooked in one room and served in another
1980’s – Technological and safety reasons – kitchen was separate room for ventilation purposes, but advancements in the extractor hood allowed an open kitchen, as well as the incorporation of skylights – kitchen air typically has grease/smoke/odors that require ample ventilation
Creative, social act of cooking and enhanced status of cooking, entertaining, hosting
Incorporation of open plan kitchen/dining/living spaces – Eat in kitchens or open concept
Cooking is no longer a solo activity and meals are no longer served at 5:00 PM everyday, but often in waves or in passing as people move from one activity in a packed work schedule to another
Incorporation of the island, serving a number of different functions: http://www.examiner.com/article/innovative-kitchen-island-ideas
-Cook Tops/Rangs with hoods
Trend toward the island as the new hearth/hub of the home – by housing a number of functions in one area, we can bring people together to partake in a number of activities in one location
MOEN RESEARCH ON ISLAND TRENDS: http://www.moen.com/kitchen-and-bar/design-planning/design-advice/article?id=41
Island as the symbolic hearth of the home
Bringing people together around food – joint activity of congregating and preparing Innovations furthering the role of the island as the most important design decision:
-Hi-Macs Natural Acrylic Stone provide extreme moldability and customization – http://www.himacs.eu/home /http://www.examiner.com/article/innovative-kitchen-island-ideas
-THIS HAS ALL THE THINGS http://www.trendir.com/archives/003279.html
Kitchen is just the island – one freestanding element that houses all necessary elements for food preparation, storage, cooking, and dining – frees the kitchen from the wall and allows it to be placed anywhere within the home.
Functions served through:
-Different counter heights
-Creative shapes to create varied work zones
Can be used for:
-Communal cafes in offices
Frank Lloyd Wright explored the idea of the hearth as the “psychological center of the home.” Values with family and family values integrated with architecture and space planning. Centrality of hearth was emphasized – ability to uplift spirits between host and guests.
Kitchens in the future could become the starting point for the layout of a floor plan, with all elements radiating from this central space. All elements could be built around a nuclear “kitchen” that would serve as a preparation, cooking, working, entertaining and socializing space. In terms of islands, which have become an increasingly popular unit in modern kitchens, the kitchens of the future could become islands entirely, a free standing and all encompassing unit that affords the freedom to be positioned anywhere in the home. Provided there is ample ventilation and circulation, this leads to the freeing of kitchen functions from the wall.
Hi-Macs material technology will allow fully customizable solutions to a variety of space restrictions or other client needs. A small space, like a studio apartment, could be well served with this idea of self-contained islands units. In any space, more freedom for a variety of aesthetically manipulated spaces based on social desire, spatial constraints, particular cooking needs and residence types. “Family” units are also no longer defined traditionally. These islands could be catered to a variety of unique dwelling types.
Kitchens are Islands in the Future
Planning a Kitchen
Ventilation in Kitchens
More than Just a Fireplace: The Hearth, The Kitchen and Frank Lloyd Wright