For most of us, kitchens are the epicenter of our households. From intimate gatherings to large family functions, the kitchen is where we often feel the most comfortable chatting, cleaning and of course, eating.
To celebrate the kitchen and its endless possibilities in the 21st century, the National Kitchen Business Association (NKBA) Manhattan Chapter sponsored the 2015 Kitchen of the Future Symposium entitled “Eating, Living & Building – Designing the Kitchen of the Tomorrow” on November 18. This well-attended, elegant event was hosted by Häfele America Co. in Manhattan.
The daylong symposium consisted of three highly credentialed speakers who discussed a diverse range of topics on the future of kitchens. Leeann Lavin, author of The Hamptons & Long Island Homegrown Cookbook, spoke passionately on the subject of food (eating). Ray Kinoshita Mann, an associate professor at UMass Amherst’s Department of Architecture, discussed the sociology (living) theme. And Joe Wheeler, associate professor at Virginia Tech’s School of Architecture and Design, talked about design (building).
The Adaptation of Design and Technology
Rounding out the day’s event, Lavin, Mann and Wheeler participated in a Q&A panel discussion that was moderated by John Morgan, former NKBA president. Morgan kicked things off by asking how they see design and technology adapting and evolving to the rapid shifts in demographics such as multi-generational households to young singles.
Wheeler said he feels it’s important to find the perfect blend of functionality and technology, citing voice activation software and drawers versus doors (drawers winning out over doors for the elderly). One of his ideas bringing the two concepts together was a laundry soap function that is programmed to send the consumer an electronic reminder (email, text) to reorder when it ran low.
“The market is going to determine if we want our soap monitored,” he said later in the evening when an audience member asked where we draw the line on all of this extra technology. “Where we are now is discovery mode.”
Mann said while she’s all for technology, she doesn’t want people to lose sight of the importance of physical space and how that simple component will never go away despite constant technological advances. Her “Dish Rack Syndrome” was featured during her presentation, citing the importance of functionality over costly and stunning designs.
“Start with utility and find out what its function is,” added Lavin, who spoke passionately throughout the evening about sustainability and whole food options. “I encourage you to embrace [technology], but don’t steer away from old technology.”
Her presentation touched on both new and old concepts to enhance today and tomorrow’s kitchen, including drone food delivery and creating customized food with 3D printing, as well as organic cleaning products and more efficient food waste elimination/mitigation options.
Morgan concluded the evening with a simple question, arguably something that was on the minds of most audience members. “We all have something to sell,” he said. “What is it? What is that one thing to help our clients right now?”
Mann gave perhaps the most concise answer: “Dish rack.” Wheeler said taking the time to educate your client on what’s available could be the most important thing you do. And Lavin concluded the evening with a touch of altruistic sentimentality that seemed to resonate overall with the room.
“You want a kitchen that makes memories,” she said. “Of course you’re going to die, but it’s how you live that’s most important.”
– By Carrie Farley