The Evolution of the Modern Kitchen
We find that the kitchen is one of those rare universals truths that can be found around the world. The kitchen you find in Los Angeles is almost identical to one in Venice or Bangladesh. As a matter of fact you will find that the traditional layout of any kitchen can be found from a mud-hut in the Amazon to a 5th Avenue penthouse. We find the same pattern in archeological excavations from Taos, New Mexico to the ruins of Pompeii.
At the core of the "primal" kitchen we find three basic elements; fire, water and storage. The only real evolution that we find is in the appearance and technology.
From the "hearth", to the "wood-burning" stove, to the "induction cook top".
From the water-bucket, to the hand-pump, to the integrated dishwasher. From the "apple-cellar" to the "icebox" to the "Integrated Refrigerator".
It is not about how the kitchen has changed, but more how we have changed the usage of this once purely functional space.
At the turn of the last century, the kitchen was designed to be out of the way, a place for servants, the cook and the help, to gather and prepare the days meals and double as a place to stay out of the main household. It was sparse, functional and easy to wash-down.
By post-war America, the kitchen was designed as a functional laboratory for a single participant, the woman of the house, the little lady, mom. It was laid out with assembly line efficiency with a window centered on the sink so she could watch the little ones in the back yard.
The evolution of the modern kitchen has grown far from its primary function of food preparation, to that of "the social center of the home". A place where the family, both nuclear as well as tribal, still gather to share, rejuvenate and commune together.
Today the kitchen is still the gathering place of the tribe, but the walls have come down and this once hidden and secluded place is now part of a larger social arena, The Global Kitchen.
It serves as a meeting place, a dinning room, a home-office, a place to do homework; it can even serve as a hide away for quite reflection or a place to gather for fun and entertainment.
The Global Kitchen has become a place that defines the home and those that live in it. This once private domain of the feminine world has now given way to the new social order and reflects the world that we live in.
Today we find that everyone is welcomed in the Global Kitchen. More and more family members and friends are invited, if not encouraged 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 give way to a new way of thinking.
A New Direction
In our recent past, 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.
In the new school of thought, the belief is that the kitchen must be efficient to be productive, an environment that is conducive to the task at hand.
It is about changing the way we think about this space we call "kitchen" and our individual relationships to it. It's about creating an environment that allows us to experience new ideas and to rediscover aspects of our lives that have been lost in the daily rush of life.
The Global Kitchen approach is to think first about the fundamental aspects of the kitchen, what we want from it and how this space can be utilized to its full potential. We must view this space as a whole and understand the relevance and position of every item and detail in it, from the largest stewpot to the tiniest teaspoon.
In the past the appliances dictated the form and flow of the kitchen. the sink under the window, the dishwasher to the right or left of the sink, the cook-top with its 12 inches on either side, the double oven that is used only for holidays and special occasions and the refrigerator, this monolith of modern technology that dominates the space.
Today, we must place the individual or individuals and the task first and then the appliance and the space needed to fulfill the task. With a variety of people and activities we must create a fluid, interactive, multifunctional arena, where tools and materials are close at hand and within a given task boundary.
Today we declare the "work triangle" dead and relegated to the ideas of centuries past. With this passing comes a new philosophy along with a new vocabulary:
• Free-range hot, cold and wet zones
• Vertical and Horizontal Work Planes
• Free Standing Furniture Based Multi-Task Elements
• Adjustable Work Landings
• Multi-Task Interiors
• Social Geometry
Kitchen Space...the new frontier.
On the whole, European kitchens tend to be much smaller than their American counterparts, so the utilization of space takes on a greater importance.
To meet this need the Global Kitchen is in many ways designed from the inside - out. The goal is to achieve maximum use of the interiors without compromising the external aesthetics.
The solution is not more space, but better utilization of the space at hand.
As kitchen designers, we had to change the way we looked at space to better understand the problem.
We first moved away from a one-dimensional approach to kitchen design and began to think of the kitchen as a multi-dimensional canvas.
The static, cluttered, restricted and unchanging kitchen of the past has now been converted to a living stage, a place where it is now possible to create an environment that alters old beliefs about space and structure and to infuse new concepts that reflect the needs of today's modern homeowner.
Kitchen Matrix...Shifting Boundaries
Today we find the roll of the kitchen taking on a completely different role than any other time in her history.
Free and easy, open and inviting...these are the new adjectives that describe the Global Kitchen. A room with out boundaries or barriers, a room free from conventional thought, a room seeking a new name to clarify its new role in the American home. A room that has gone from the "heart of the home" to the "hub of the home", the new command center for daily American life.
The Global Kitchen is open to the rest of the home and as such the room most function on several levels, from food preparation to social interaction, from entertainment center to living-room.
The Global Kitchen must blend seamlessly into the living and family areas of the home, it must impress as well as be useful, successfully achieving the delicate balance between form and function.
To this end, extremes must be avoided, volumes must be contained and styles measured. It is a given that the kitchen must look nice, but the cabinetry and appliances must be of the utmost efficiency, creating a space that is neutral in character, more Asian than European...a space that that is more Zen-like than uniform.
The Global Kitchen, in its new domestic role, finds itself reflecting a family style based on the sharing of traditional roles and function. The living area embraces the kitchen as a multifunctional arena, were food is prepared, people talk, homework is finished and guests are entertained.
Summary: The Global Kitchen
• Open Floor Plan...Kitchen, Living Room and Family Room as one.
• Simple and restrained finishes and materials...an almost Zen like effect...the essential kitchen.
• The kitchen as furniture. Free standing.
The Global kitchen will continue to be the heart, if not the hub of the home, an essential element in our daily lives that touches and affects us both physically and emotionally, a place where we seek communion, rejuvenation, and sanctuary. Of all the items we will choose for our home, the Global kitchen will provide us with a unique outlet for creation and self-expression