Kitchen design seems to be entering a new stage of acceptance and designers are finding a new found freedom to redefine the boundaries of their discipline. Just as the members of the feminist movement in the late 60’s were rumoured to have burned their under garments in an act of independent defiance so too are kitchen designers refusing to accept architecture or even gravity for that matter as a restrictive force within the design process.
The kitchen has evolved a great deal in the last 30 years and the idea of the “un-fitted Kitchen” which was pioneered by Johnny Grey in the 1980’s has developed into something much more diverse, the modern kitchen can now be described as R.O.A.S.T. A Remotely Operated Architecturally Separated Transformer. R.O.A.S.T kitchens are driven by technology and the dilution of internal architecture. The R.O.A.S.T kitchen will sit as the dominant centre piece within a large open plan, communal space. This kitchen will be the defining influence over everything around it and has multiple zones catering to it’s owners every whim; from toast to television this kitchen controls how we live, eat and interact with each other. It could now even be argued that we occupy R.O.A.S.T space with lines becoming blurred between kitchen and living space. Maybe the blurring of internal boundaries and the introduction of automation and transforming elements is an evolutionary phenomenon; a natural development as designers try to deal with a predicted population explosion!
Can it be considered that creating future concepts to counteract the potential shrinking of our living space has actually started to subconsciously redefine our expectations about were and how we live? And will the kitchen prove to be the one element to be historically repressed and adaptable enough to provide a solution for the lack of living space in the future. Do we need our future homes to be: Remotely, Operated, Architecturally, Separated, Transformers in order to entertain, comfort and nourish us whilst inhabiting a more restricted living space in the future?
An “Architecturally Separated” kitchen refuses to be controlled by all 3 of our dimensional planes, this means that it is not only detached from the vertical walls that have traditionally imprisoned the kitchen, restricting depth and width, but the architectural separation also considers height. This characteristic is illustrated by modern kitchens seemingly becoming obsessed with detaching themselves from the floor.
Designers now use technology and engineering to create all kinds of floating cantilevers and bridging elements. The kitchen is becoming so separated from the architecture that it now refuses to make contact with the walls or the floor. In the 1980’s having an “unfitted kitchen” provided an opportunity to display design savvy but in today’s world the show stopping kitchen must be architecturally independent and defy the very forces of nature that have shaped our World since the beginning of time!
These developments allow you to appreciate the evolutionary path of kitchen design over the last 30 years. Initially architecture was the dominant mothering influence with the kitchen conforming and being thankful for the space it had been allocated. Then upon reaching adolescence the kitchen found a little confidence to tread its own path and loosen the architectural apron strings by becoming “un-fitted”. But now the kitchen seems all grown up, able to stand on its own two feet and project a commandingly confident presence over the influences that have chaperoned its development in the past.
R.O.A.S.T kitchens have the ability to replace the internal architecture by creating a physically strong presence that can separate an open plan space, giving it definition and atmosphere. This is particularly prevalent when a kitchen pod is used. Many of these kitchen pods will have integrated frames and walls which create enough mass to restrict sight lines and movement. The island kitchen may be used if the client wishes to create a minimally un-broken atmosphere free of traditional restriction!
Because the kitchen is now seen as a dominant design feature we are beginning to undertake a period of accelerated understanding and respect for those who create these concepts. Kitchen design is changing!