I love to cook, but mostly I enjoy the process of cooking and preparation of the meal, preparing my menu, rummaging through recipes, selecting ingredients, laying out my tools and utensils, cooking, tasting, seasoning and tasting again, creating the presentation and then to finally serve it to my guests, be it family or friends.  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 “renaissance” in kitchen design over the last few years with a focus on cooking.  Maybe it’s because of the current economic times we live in and people are staying home more and eating more meals around the family table.   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, a place where 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.  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.   

With cooking returning as the primary function, the kitchen must be efficient to be productive, an environment that is conducive to the task at hand, an arena that clearly defines the boundaries of form and function and where the “poetry of chaos” is the rule of order.  Today’s kitchen must be created 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.

Over the past several years, the collective thought of modern kitchen design was to create the “illusion of order” by hiding the true function of the kitchen.  By hiding the food, the waste and the appliances, we created the illusion of productivity and efficiency by hiding the process.   Now with the return to cooking, we want to experience the hands-on-joy of cooking.  We want to chop and dice, we want to sprinkle salt and spices; we want to drown our senses in the sounds and smells of a fresh made meal. 

With this new genesis, the kitchen will once again become an essential element of our daily life that touches and affects us, both physically as well as emotionally, a place where we seek communion with others, rejuvenation of the spirit and a sanctuary that will provide us with a unique outlet for creation and self-expression.

Designer, writer, speaker and environmentalist, Kevin Henry has been a “thought-leader” to the kitchen industry for over 25 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.   Currently, Mr Henry is the Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing for Enkeboll Designs. The “Gold Standard” of architectural carvings and millwork.  You can reach Kevin via email at kevin.henry@enkeboll.com