Kitchen designers used to only have to worry about incorporating a television in a kitchen and a knee space for the “cookbook area” often called the lady’s desk. Open floor plans and personal devices have eliminated much need for the a kitchen television.
The desk has also pretty much gone by the wayside too. A continuous countertop is more desirous in today’s busy kitchens. Women have moved their work into the home office sharing space with their spouse with beautiful built-ins and a partner’s desk.
The technology debate has people questioning whether smart appliances will make life more convenient or lead to laziness and complacency. If our refrigerator orders our groceries online for us, will we ever need to get dressed and leave the house?
I wonder if new time-saving alternatives come at the expense of learning a new skill (how to cook), a sense of accomplishment (cooking a steak medium rare), and the joy of providing (making an aging parent happy).
More automation means more leisure time. But instead of tackling higher pursuits, we are using our free time to do nothing instead of something. Binge watching a show may be rewarding when you are laid up sick in bed but is this something you really want to claim as a weekly or daily activity? (Google it and you’ll see American are watching 5 hours of media a day.)
Where do we want technology?
Most consumers like the idea of kitchen technology that will keep us safer. An example of this that is well received is GE Appliance‘s partnership with the Nest Protect smoke and carbon monoxide (CO) alarm to better detect fires in an oven and quickly alert homeowners.
If Nest Protect detects smoke while the connected oven is on, GE Appliances will send a command to turn off the oven. The Kitchen app will then also receive a push notification, letting you know that the oven has been turned off.
Finding a Balance
One company thinks they have found the solution for a prefect balance between technology and aesthetics.
Rather than clutter your work area with control panels, one company has developed a revolutionary control panel that allows multiple appliances to be controlled from one location.
Grundig, a European appliance manufacturer with German heritage, has created interactive Virtual User Experience Technology (VUX) that transforms an ordinary counter-top in an interactive work surface.
This innovative control system uses a projection technology that registers hand movements and interpret these signals as instructions to control the VUX cooktop (hob), dishwasher and hood.
Users can choose exactly where they want their virtual control panel to appear and automatically move it should a bowl or small appliance get in the way. Blending seamlessly into the countertop, the controls are easy to clean being far more hygienic than most surfaces we touch in the kitchen.
This system does have some limitations. It obviously won’t work on a shiny black countertop and you would need their suite of appliances (which are not available here at this point). I really like way you can use your wi-fi to show your baby monitor or project a recipe but my favorite option might be the call answer option that won’t get your food on your phone or vice versa – get your phone’s germs on your food.
Automation is not necessarily bad, but it is inevitable. As a designer I must work with my clients and other trades such as Audio/Video, Electrician and Plumbing to make the home as functional and comfortable as possible while still being able to express their individual style among new and omni changing technology.