In its current exhibit, “Counter Space: Design and the Modern Kitchen,” the Metropolitan Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York City suggests, “Over the course of the past century, no other room has been the focus of such intensive aesthetic and technological innovation.” A look at the products and materials available today, as well as a look forward, would support that thought.
Along with amazing advances due to technology, there is also a growing appreciation for what Matt refers to as “noble materials used honestly.” As our designs become more personalized and less stylized, even the more traditional spaces are becoming more streamlined, simpler and more sophisticated, incorporating this combination of high tech and simple, natural materials.
Cabinets are painted, but not distressed or glazed, with grain and brush strokes a prominent part of the design. Stone is honed with rough or unpolished edges, closer to its natural state. In hardware and fittings, there is growing interest in the more natural unlacquered brasses and bronzes. Appliances are moving from integrated to invisible, including cooktops that are concealed when not in use and refrigeration in more shapes and sizes to allow us to adapt it to our specific design parameters.
And going forward? How about glass as a surface that is also a conductor of energy, light and technology? A glass counter that emits light so that the work surface is lit without shadow or glare? Or a countertop that the cook can touch to activate and the world opens up – embedded television, computer, cooking surface or power station for small appliances come to life? Glass can also come from and return to recycled material.
These concepts are not necessarily available for immediate purchase, but the technology exists. If we can embrace it, our design options are expanded exponentially.
As designers, it is so important to remember to move outside the proverbial box, and to be inspired. My time spent looking at and listening to the ideas of Mick, Jamie, and Matt certainly did that for me, and I hope this may be a little nudge to you as well.