More than any other room in your house, the kitchen has changed radically in the past 100 years. And according to IKEA, it's going to change even more over the next decade.
Welcome to Concept Kitchen 2025, an exhibit and collection of prototypes that is the result of more than a year of development with more than 50 design students in Sweden and the Netherlands led by IKEA and the design consultancy Ideo. At Milan's Salone del Mobile design week right now, four of the final prototypes are on view — each of which illustrate something crucial about the way we'll live in ten years. Yes, 2025 is just a decade away.
What's so important about the future of the kitchen, according to these students and companies? In an introduction, they explain that the world will change rapidly over the next few years: Resources will grow scarcer, as will personal space. Most populations in developed world will have more old people and fewer children. Connectivity will be ubiquitous and the network will be everywhere. Delivery will overtake shopping outside the house.
And at the center of all of this change is our domestic space — which, according to the group, will be smaller and more multi-purposed than ever before.
Everything Is a Computer, Even Your Island
The first prototype is called "Table of Living." It draws on ideas we've seen a lot lately about projection mapping using an overhead camera — for example, this prototype smart home where any surface can become "touchable" thanks to overheard cameras and projectors.
That's the basic idea at work here, too. The camera identifies what's on your table and uses a projector to communicate about it — the system's software can run recipe possibilities adjusted by ingredients, time, and difficulty level. It records what you're doing so you can refer back to it down the road, and offers up tips on the spot. Most importantly, it's screen-free — no scrolling or cleaning involved.
The Drought-Friendly Sink
Another prototype is geared towards the looming water shortage — by addressing one place where we waste water all the time. The sink is actually an independent bucker that sits on a pivot at its center, rocking either to the left or right as you use it. A drain on each side sends the excess water to one of two places, depending on your choice: Either a greywater collection trough, where it can be re-used to water plants and clean around the house, or a "blackwater" trough for water that's too dirty or filled with chemicals that make it unusable.
Smarter Garbage — That Can Cost You
Trash features prominently too, of course. A sorting system for recyclables, which doesn't look so different from our present-day systems. Until you realise it's keeping an eye on your trash habits:
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.
One of the most interesting prototypes is aimed at improving composting. A module in the sink catches and compresses organic waste that's been flushed down the sink — next, the group explains, "the water extracted, and it's then compressed into a dry, odourless puck. These pucks can be stacked for pickup by the municipality."
You can check out the full series of prototypes and student projects right here.