The Kitchen of the Future

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To address a growing focus on gardens, sustainability, and wellness, Kinoshita Mann added many other features. There’s a “wet room” next to the kitchen with an extra-large counter and sink and a draining floor, so that fresh, unpackaged produce pulled right out of the garden or from a local farm can be sprayed down and hung from overhead racks to dry. And the kitchen and living area wrap around a small indoor courtyard with sliding glass walls and ceiling, all of which can be opened or adjusted to bring the outside indoors and to assist in heating or cooling the house (adjustable ventilation pipes provide additional temperature control). “The idea wasn’t to radically redesign the kitchen but to make a lot of subtle changes in the home that affect how we perceive and use the cooking and eating area as our needs evolve,” says Kinoshita Mann.

No Such Thing as Too Many Cooks…or Computers

Similar motivations are influencing home design at Taylor Morrison, a builder that has helped define the image of the future kitchen for many Americans, through a partnership with Disney, Microsoft, and HP that resulted in the Innoventions Dream Home exhibit at Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, California. Amy Haywood-Rino, who heads up sales and marketing at Taylor Morrison’s Houston’s division, explains that growing economic pressures and an aging population will make it increasingly common to find as many as four generations living under the same roof. The need to accommodate many people who will likely to want to cook and eat in different ways, along with a shrinking focus on privacy, led Taylor Morrison to design most of its homes with open-floor plans that defy the conventional notion of a single, well-defined kitchen. Not only is the line between the kitchen and other living spaces indistinct, but the homes sometimes include ultra-compact satellite kitchens to supplement a more spacious main kitchen area. “These smaller kitchens can give a separate space to an elderly family member or a kid living at home after college,” says Haywood-Rino. “Or they can just be utility spaces to get some of the hard cooking work done so that the kitchen can be kept less cluttered for other activities.”

In the Dream Home exhibit, technology is front and center, via a range of computerized home functions—from temperature control to door locks to lighting to music—all adjustable with a remote control. And in the real-world homes that Taylor Morrison builds, this technology has become standard: Temperature, security, lighting, and more can be controlled in the home via remote or from anywhere in the world using a smartphone or an iPad (an iPad comes with the price of the home, which starts at $150,000). “Now we’re looking at ways to control the kitchen oven and other appliances remotely,” says Haywood-Rino. “That way you can get a head start on dinner while you’re still at work.”

Gleaming, Flashy, and Virtual

Emerging digital technology will have an enormous impact in kitchens of the future, according to Peter Bocko, chief technology officer for Corning Glass Technologies, makers of electronics displays, optical fiber, and other high-tech glass products. “We’ll be entering an age of ubiquitous displays,” he says. Ongoing research and development in breakthrough glass technology allows the embedding of information screens in tough glass sheets that can conform to various shapes. The result: Kitchen work surfaces, from counters to cabinets, will become places to display information and media. “We’re going to move away from the idea of our relying on just a smartphone or laptop or TV screen to get entertainment and information, and toward environments where we can get it from whatever surface is around us when we need it.” As we cook, says Bocko, we’ll have recipes displayed on our counters, a video of a cooking demonstration on a cabinet, a live video chat with a friend who can offer tips running on the wall, and email displaying on the sink backsplash. Meanwhile, the kids can turn the top of the island into a large display for homework and a quick video consultation with a teacher. Later in the evening, all of these displays could allow the kitchen to become an entertainment and social-networking center.

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