'Kitchen Concept 2010' Provides a Look Ahead

'Kitchen Concept 2010' Provides a Look Ahead

"Kitchen Concept 2010," a visionary new project developed by Hettich America LP, "showcases what's possible in the kitchen of the future," says the company, a leading supplier of cabinet and furniture hardware headquartered here.

The project, unveiled recently to the trade press, is aimed at showcasing a series of thought-provoking ideas that kitchen designers can use in providing convenience and innovative function for their clients. The project is also focused on providing new directions for cabinet and appliance manufacturers, particularly through the extensive use of high-performance drawer runner systems and other hardware throughout the kitchen.

"Kitchen Concept 2010 combines ideas that are apt to burst the much-claimed limits of growth," the company adds. "It demonstrates that functions can offer significant potential for innovation."

According to Hettich officials who developed the Concept 2010 project, the prototype kitchen is designed to address four critical areas of concern to kitchen users: conservation, convenience, ergonomics and changeable living space.

The conservation of natural resources "is an issue of growing importance," according to Hettich, which points out that kitchen designers and product manufacturers have "more than a duty" to focus on conservation-related issues in the future.

In the Concept 2010 kitchen project developed by Hettich, residual heat from ovens and ventilating systems is recaptured into a supplementary energy dispenser. Dish- washers wash the dishes in separate compartments to spare natural resources. Refrigerators and freezers are each divided into levels that can be opened separately, conserving the cold air from the remaining unopened compartments.

In addition, the kitchen sink features variable bowl sizes to accommodate different user requirements, and household waste is handled by intelligent systems that automatically separate the various wastes. Water heating and storage are computer-controlled.

"An essential guideline for innovation," says Hettich, "is the growing demand for convenience and time savings. Household chores have to be carried out quickly and efficiently."

Hettich's Concept 2010 kitchen contains a series of solutions for added convenience, including baking ovens that have tilt-proof pullout racks, which allow food to be raised and lowered on baking trolleys to counter level. True to the principle of physics, the hot air stays inside the oven. Since the air cannot escape, the core temperature for cooking remains constant.

In addition, separate dishwasher drawers make loading and unloading easier. In refrigerators, rotating sections ensure that desired foods are available through small openings that respond to voice recognition. Bar code labeling makes automatic replacement shopping a reality; it also recommends recipes to homeowners, and keeps track of "best before" dates. An inter-face linking to the Internet even automates the dialogue with the grocery store/supermarket, which takes the order and potentially delivers it, too.

In the Concept 2010 kitchen, cooktops are mounted on mobile containers that can be rolled into the desired location. The cooktop can be lowered out of sight, has a mobile splash guard and is self-cleaning. Quiet but powerful cooktop extraction hoods are controlled by sensor technology that checks the air quality continuously. The hoods feature a ball-bearing mechanism that permits them to be retracted and extended, resulting in more head room and safer room for maneuvering when cleaning the kitchen.

The sink has everything essential for making manual washing easier, including adjustable bowl sizes. Household waste that can be separated and disposed of via the appropriate chute is automatically compacted and sealed behind an odor trap. All electrical appliance modules are powered via power strips, which make installation easier, without the usual jumble of cables.

Hettich points to the vital role played by ergonomics in kitchen design, especially in view of growing consumer health consciousness, and an aging population. In the Concept 2010 kitchen baking oven, the work levels even the upper cabinets can be raised and lowered, so that everything is always at the optimum handling level, even in the dishwasher. Containers that swing outward, and countertops that increase in size for individual situations, can be adapted to the mobile side table. Air extraction in the corner of the space leaves more room for maneuvering.

The potential of "intelligent electronics" is also in the cards for the future, Hettich officials said. In the kitchen of the future, the refrigerator, for example, responds to voice recognition to make items available conveniently, and timed lighting sequences are organized according to personal preference, requirements and life situation.

Changeable space
The Concept 2010 kitchen "is not tied to the traditional floor plan that prescribes a fixed area for the kitchen," according to Hettich. "Depending on requirements or personal furnishing style, it can even be integrated into the living room area," the company observes.

"Households in the future will consist of only one to three people," Hettich notes. "Many of these people will have a home office. Living areas of versatile utility will abandon the former traditional space and functional confines home furnishings were designed for. In this context, nobody needs to worry about less storage space being available. There still will be a need for cabinets, even if they 'only' provide the environment for the new functions."

The Concept 2010 kitchen, ultimately, is aimed at "encouraging dialogue and intensifying cooperation between (cabinet) manufacturers and component suppliers," Hettich points out.

"With the creative potential of all involved, and everyone's sights firmly set on the wishes of the kitchen user, solutions can be designed to redefine the experience value and function value of the kitchen under the perspective of a changing habitat and work environment," the company concludes.