Ten years in the future, the world will be a very different place. What does that mean for us, for the design of kitchens, and the people who make them – and how will we be able to live a sustainable life at home?
To find out, IKEA collaborated with IDEO and design students School of Industrial Design at the Ingvar Kamprad Design Centre at Lund University, and the Industrial Design department at Eindhoven University of Technology.
One outcome of the 18 month long collaboration is the Concept Kitchen 2025 exhibition at IKEA Temporary, open from April 9, Milan.
The exhibition is just one part of an ongoing investigation by IKEA into how people’s relationship to food is changing. It serves to tangibly show what we might be doing in 2025: how we’ll be growing our food, storing it; how we’ll be cooking, eating, living and working in the kitchen.
The dining table has always been the heart of the kitchen, a place for preparing food, and eating it.
But as the world changes, so will our needs. That means that the table of the future will be designed to do so much more: it’s our preparation surface, hob, dining table, work bench and children’s play area.
Technology will play its part too, helping to make us more confident cooks, while letting less food go to waste.
The technology consists of a camera and projector positioned above the table and induction coils underneath the table surface. Networked together, they allow the system to recognise objects and their movement and to project a display.
This is ‘Casual Technology’: tools that give us control and guidance when we need it, but are otherwise hidden – a surface simplicity that minimises distractions and allows for mindful engagement with food.
Near-instantaneous food delivery from autonomous vehicles and drones means the end of the weekly shop, so we’ll store less, but it’ll be higher quality.
While existing fridges waste energy and hide our food, this modern pantry makes food visible, keeping us mindful and inspired by the food we’ve got around us – so we’ll waste less of it.
It’s ‘Casual technology’ – unobtrusive, embedded, yet aware, helping us to save energy and food waste.
Here’s how we might be storing food in the future:
The pantry features wooden shelves that contain hidden sensors and smart induction cooling technology.
Visually referencing the market stall, these counter-level shelves keep fresh, perishable foods like eggs and fruit front of mind and close at hand.
Meanwhile terracotta storage boxes are naturally cool, perfect for foods such as garlic, potatoes and carrots.
Multifunctional, modular and inexpensive to produce, these storage containers allow food to be wirelessly cooled to just the right temperature.
Double-walled glass cloches keep food visible, so we don’t overbuy.
Insets made of porcelain, wood or slate keep food fresher for longer, and can be detached to use as tableware.
The magnetic, stainless steel-gadoliminium alloy base is inductively cooled by the shelves. But if the container is placed on the kitchen table surface, the induction system switches to heating.
The container’s temperature is ‘remote controlled’ by food packaging.
To set the right storage temperature, we detach an RFID sticker from its packaging, put the food inside the container and the sticker on the outside.
Sensing the presence of a container, the shelves will simply ‘read’ the sticker’s RFID storage instructions and adjust the temperature accordingly.
As we become more conscious of the environmental impact of household waste, we’ll recycle and reuse far more. Cities will encourage that too, charging residents for non-recyclable rubbish by the kilogram.
This waste and composting system helps us live more sustainably by making us more aware of what we’re throwing away, and helping our municipalities dispose of that waste more efficiently.
Here’s how we might dispose of food in 2025
Organic waste washed from the sink into the composting system is blended, the water extracted, and it’s then compressed into a dry, odourless puck. These pucks can be stacked for pickup by the municipality.
The waste water doesn’t flush away: it contains nutrients that can be safely used to feed our indoor plants.
We’ll separate non-organic waste by material. The can, bottle, or container is crushed, scanned to identify what it’s made of, and for contamination.
Waste is then vacuum packed and sealed in a bio-polymer tube. A thermo-printed label records what we’ve disposed of and potential future uses. Depending on how wasteful we’ve been, we receive an energy credit or debit.
MINDFUL WATER USE
Water’s set to become more precious in the next ten years, so we’ll need to use it more responsibly. A ‘Mindful design’ solution makes us conscious of our everyday decisions, and helps us make better-informed choices about how we use water.
Our sink has two plug holes: pivot one way for ‘grey’ water that be reused for washing up and watering plants, tipping to the right sends badly contaminated water (black water) through to the sewerage pipes for treatment.
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