The Future Of Kitchens:

How Kitchens Can Support Human Health and Improve Our Lives

Written by:

Sasha Kuo, Britt Barr, and Brittany C.

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As people are becoming more health conscious they are also becoming more focused on ways to encourage and maintain a healthy lifestyle. Greater consideration is given to nutrition, sleep-wake cycles, and ergonomics. The kitchen has become the epicenter of many homes in the United States, and thus we see many of these concerns being addressed in this space. Technology can now be integrated to help keep an inventory of food and suggest recipes. Adjustable lighting systems can be implemented to mimic sun patterns helping to regulate our circadian rhythms. And, materials and ergonomic design can be utilized to minimize strain on our bodies as we cook and eat.

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Smart Kitchens and Nutritional Guidance

What we eat? The kitchen is the first place people go to when they wake up in the morning. It is the place that gives us all the energy we need every day. So if the future kitchen could help improve food with the latest technology, it would be a great benefit for human beings.

How? The latest technology allows us to connect an LED panel with several kitchen appliances. The future kitchen will be allowed to calculate recipes’ nutritional values in these gadgets and give you suggestions. It breaks down the calories of each ingredient and suggests multiple ingredient options to choose from. It also compares similar recipes to help you discover and try new ones without losing nutrition. This kitchen system also cooperates with grocery shopping companies like Fresh Direct to deliver groceries every few days.

Lighting Design and Circadian Rythyms

Kitchen design can further promote human wellness by incorporating lighting technologies that synchronize circadian rhythms—or daily physiological cycles. According to research performed by USAI Lighting, studies show that light significantly affects our sleep, alertness, performance, and wellness. ”Humans need the right amount of the right light at the right time for the biological clock to remain synchronized with the solar day” one USAI Lighting report claims. Modern advancements in lighting design allow for greater flexibility in how we incorporate color temperature and light intensity into the home to support wellness. For example, to create a relaxing space that invites warmth and regeneration, one may use warm, dim lighting. This is perhaps best used in the evening after a long day to encourage relaxation, or to create a familiar atmosphere for a dinner party with friends.

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Image courtesy of USAI Lighting

Warmer lighting assists the production of melatonin—a hormone that controls sleep and wake cycles—which makes it an effective lighting option to encourage sleep in the evening. Alternatively, in the morning one may use cool light. USAI Lighting suggests, “[a] dose of cool blue light in the morning resets your circadian rhythms” allowing one to remain alert. These lighting temperatures can flexibly be employed in a kitchen’s lighting plan throughout the day to meet the needs of its occupants.

Ergonomics and Wellness

The Kitchen Triangle has been a tried and true method to creating a functional kitchen with good ergonomics. While still important in kitchen design, people are beginning to look for other ways to make the kitchen more comfortable as well. Floorings such as wood, bamboo, and cork could be used rather than harder ones, such as stone, to give the floor more bounce and cause less stress on the knees, hips, and back after prolonged periods of standing and cooking. Drawers in lieu of typical cabinets can help users to avoid squatting and stretching in order to reach the back of lower cabinets. Additionally, lifting heavy objects out from a drawer is less dangerous as there is less risk of dropping/breaking when pulling items from a shelf. Finally, adjustable countertops could be more comfortable for users ranging in height. Having several spaces with separate adjustable countertops could be useful in achieving less strain and comfort for performing different activities. Of course. the height should be most closely tailored to the kitchen’s primary user, but having height variety allows more people to find a comfortable spot to help prep, cook and clean in the kitchen.

Conclusion

A kitchen designed to meet the dietary, sensorial, and ergonomic needs of a client can be achieved through advanced technological and lighting systems as well as through diligence and flexibility in ergonomic planning. We have explored ways to integrate smart devices that keep track of what and how one eats in addition to how tailored lighting and ergonomics can positively benefit one physiologically and mentally. The kitchen of the future is not only about sleekness in design, but about supporting human wellness through technology and planning.

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