With COVID keeping many of us at home, kitchens are taking on a bigger role than ever before. They’re not just the place we cook meals; they’re also our offices, a place to teach kids homework, the background of our Zoom video calls as we cook along with family.
Considering we’ve long considered the kitchen the heart of the home, it’s no surprise that they’re shifting as we spend more and more time homebound. But how will the kitchen transform to better suit our new needs during quarantine?
To answer that question we turned to Johnny Grey, a British design leader specializing in — you guessed it — kitchens. Today Grey (and a few surprise guests) joined us for our latest Spoon Virtual Event, titled The Future of Kitchen Design in a Post-COVID19 World. He talked about some of the constants of kitchen design, how to embrace the DIY, and how the kitchen is a sort of “3D timepiece.” Here are a few of the highlights:
Fewer cabinets, more pantries
If there’s one part of conventional kitchen design that Grey absolutely hates, it’s cabinets. He thinks they take up too much space in the core of the kitchen itself, which should be a more social space.
In fact, Grey’s overarching goal with kitchen design seems to be to make it a more pleasant space for gathering. To that end, he’s a big fan of kitchen islands (or peninsulas), ideally ones with adjustable heights that can go from a bar space to a dining table.
When asked what he thought we could learn from the past, Grey answered in one word: pantries. He likes a walk-in pantry because you can see things in front of you — like all those bulk bags of dry goods you bought — and you don’t have to rely on dreaded cabinets to store everything.
Where does smart tech fit in?
For Grey, smart tech does have a role to play in kitchens of the future. Specifically when it comes to two things: precision and safety. Grey also emphasized that kitchen technology can help generations age in place. If individuals can cook for themselves, he theorizes that they won’t have to move to assisted living facilities as quickly — thus keeping them home for longer.
The kitchen as a timepiece
During the virtual event Grey unveiled a new concept he’s been working on. Called the Evening Kitchen, he explained that the kitchen has multiple different lives during each 24-hour cycle. During the day it may be an area for quick meal prep, but in the evening it morphs into a bistro, a nightclub, or even a quiet living room, depending on the circumstances. Grey calls the kitchen a sort of “3D timepiece.”
For that reason, the evening kitchen must look different than the kitchen of daytime. Grey talks about the power of lighting, which gives intimacy, as well as smell and music to transform the space. If you’re curious you can watch his video explaining the concept here.
Especially now, embrace joy
Especially now, kitchens should be a place of joy. “It should be a pleasure to use your kitchen,” Grey said. To make it pleasurable, designers should think about touch, ease of movement, and even color. They could set up places to set a chair in the sun. Consumers themselves can do a lot to improve their kitchen. “Embrace the DIY,” Grey told the audience.
Grey also urged listeners not to put too much pressure on themselves to de-clutter, especially now that the kitchen table is also a coworking space and/or classroom. “It’s not really how people can live,” he said.
Overall, it was a fascinating conversation and — bonus — you get to enjoy Grey’s soothing British accent. You can watch the full video below.
Finally, don’t forget to mark your calendar for our next event on May 21st 10am PT, when Gingko Bioworks program director Sudeep Agarwala will talk about fermentation as a food tech platform.