I love to cook. Actually I enjoy the process of cooking, the preparation, selecting the ingredients, laying out my tools, cooking my meal and then to finally serve it to my family and guests. As with most chefs, professional or amateur, I nibble my way throughout the undertaking, and have little room to actually sit and eat with my guests, but to sit and talk, to eat and drink and just commune with one another is its own reward.
I am glad to say that there has been a renascence in kitchen design over the last few years, maybe it’s because of the current economic times we live in, and people are staying home more and eating meals around the family table has once more taken center stage. What has changed, or maybe a better word would be, evolved, has been the democratization of the family kitchen. This once private domain of the feminine world has now given way to a new social order that reflects the world that we live in. Everyone is welcomed, if not expected to participate in the ritual of preparation.
And with this increased activity and additional bodies in a high-traffic ballet of fire, boiling water and sharp pointy things…we find that the assembly-line kitchen of the past, with its uniform horizon of sink, dishwasher, cook-top, oven and refrigerator, forever locked in its limited one-person “work-triangle,” must now give way to a new way of thinking.
Appliances once dictated the form and flow of the kitchen, but today they have all been replaced by the individual or individuals and the task, and then the appliances and the space needed to fulfill the task. With a variety of people and activities in this enclosed environment, we must create a fluid, interactive, multifunctional arena, where tools and materials are close at hand and within a given task boundary.
Much like selling toilet paper, the primary use of the product is seldom addressed. The same goes for modern kitchen design. Over the past several years, the collective thought of modern kitchen design was to create the “illusion of order.” This was accomplished by hiding the true function of the kitchen. By hiding the food, the waste and the appliances, we create the illusion of productivity and efficiency by hiding the process.
With cooking returning as the primary function, the kitchen must be efficient to be productive, an environment conducive to the task at hand. To this end we have reached out to the commercial kitchen to better understand the true meaning of efficiency, a world that clearly defines the boundaries of form and function and where the “poetry of chaos” is the rule of order. The commercial kitchen is designed around a menagerie of players, each with a task or goal to fulfill, all working independently, all working to the same conclusion and all working in perfect harmony.
WISDOM FROM THE WORKING KITCHEN
Space: Space is the most important consideration regardless of whether you are building from the ground up, or placing your commercial styled kitchen in an existing home. Either way, you want to make the most of your available space without sacrificing work flow or speed.
Mobility: A well-arranged commercial styled kitchen will allow family and friends to move easily around without bumping into one another. This is vital to maintaining a smooth-running space, especially during large gatherings and holidays
Ergonomics: The theory behind ergonomics is that the fewer steps you need to complete a task, the better. An ergonomically designed kitchen is one where you can stand in one spot and do all of your work with minimal bending, reaching, walking or turning. Ergonomics can also reduce discomfort and fatigue in the kitchen.
Energy Efficiency: Energy efficiency should be a primary consideration for any kitchen, commercial or residential, because it saves money on utility costs. In an energy-efficient kitchen, refrigeration and cooking equipment are the prime suspects in energy consumption. Look for ENERGY STAR certification in your refrigeration and dishwasher selection. Induction cooking is the most efficient form of cooking, using 90% of energy use for cooking, compared to only 40% to 50% with traditional gas or electric cooktops. Also, cooking equipment is strategically placed to maximize the efficiency of the exhaust hood.
Designer, writer, speaker, Kevin Henry is a recognized “thought-leader” to the kitchen industry for over 30 years and is sought out for his views and observations regarding market trends and industry direction. His blog, The Essential Kitchen (www.theessentialkitchen.blogspot.com), is followed world-wide by both consumers as well as industry and media leaders. Kevin is invited to speak internationally on a wide range of topics, including luxury branding, sustainable kitchen design and market trends. Mr Henry is the Director of Business Development at DACOR, a California-based manufacturer of ultra-premium residential kitchen appliances. You can contact Kevin at email@example.com