New social habits are modifying the way we live at home, calling for innovative design approaches to enable the changing lifestyle. Snaidero’s newest kitchen, Board, takes a bold step in this direction. We met up with its designer, Italian architect Pietro Arosio, and asked him about the social forces and the concept behind his design.
Board stems from the demands of a target market that has changed a great deal. Can you tell us about the new approaches you incorporated in this kitchen design?
Arosio: This design is a response to the new ways of living at home. First of all, a growing segment of the population is now living not in a house but in apartments with smaller footprints. Second, the relationship among the living areas of the home has shifted from a clear separation between them, with each room serving a specific function, to a series of open and fluid spaces. Ninety percent of the time we are faced with a single living area which has to perform the role of kitchen, dining room and living room all at once. This causes problems in terms of how you configure the space.
In some cases, this change has been brought about by the recent economic crisis but, for the most part, it’s a sign of a long-term shift in our social and living habits. For example, recent statistics have shown that more than 50% of the US population live alone and this lifestyle is gradually becoming more and more common. As a result, it’s obvious that we have to target a new type of kitchen user whose needs are completely different to those of the consumer of yesteryear.
What are the characteristics of this new generation of “single households” and how does that impact the design of the kitchen?
Arosio: The affluent “singles” need less room but want to make the most of the space they have available. They are sophisticated and demanding in their tastes. They are active, vibrant and love good food. It’s a group of connoisseurs who are sensitive to the design, style, and ambiance of their kitchen and are more inclined towards convivial, ‘living room-type’ arrangements. In these settings, the work areas need to be functional, chock full of features, state-of-the-art technology, and chef-standard equipment. Newfound food fans believe that eating is “a pleasure to be shared with others” and “a passion full of meanings and experiences”. These sentiments must be reflected in the kitchen design.
The Board workstation reinterprets the relationship between food and its preparation. How so?
Arosio: Nowadays, the term “design” means more than just the shape of an object: It refers to how the object “communicates” with people. This is what inspired me to fully satisfy the needs of the new potential target market I mentioned just now. These consumers are increasingly opting for the good things in life, and that includes a quality kitchen. Board is my attempt at designing a kitchen which not only meets basic functional and ergonomic requirements, but actually combines them with the joy of cooking, interpreted here as the enjoyment someone gets from spending time with others. We go back to the idea of cooking as a social ritual.
Another stylistic concept that this design embraces is that of aesthetic and structural “lightness”. Why did you base Board on these values?
Arosio: It came naturally to me, especially since I rarely include kitchen design features that have no practical use. Instead, I opt for simplicity: Something that isn’t too imposing and goes almost unnoticed. I don’t like things that have too strong an identity.
What are the defining features of the kitchens of today?
Arosio: It’s difficult to say. Every project is a product of its time, encapsulating the social, functional and economic demands of the age. The home, together with the kitchen, is a metaphor for people’s lives and life cycles, and is the most effective representation of oneself and one’s family. Kitchens have to be practical, convenient, simple, functional and personalized. They have to reflect a person’s tastes and their aesthetic likes and dislikes. Most of all, though, they need to be able to constantly evolve. Desires and needs intensify and change, just as tastes and perceptions of beauty change. With Board, my idea was to design something that, in a perfect world, would stay with people for life. I think that the generation of ‘wanderers’ will grow in the future, and the kitchens of today will not be able to adapt, in the sense that they have been built to suit the setting they were originally intended for. Today’s consumer is more of a free spirit, however, so Board is an industrial solution designed to capture this quality in the kitchen.
So do you believe that Board addresses this need for an “evolving” kitchen that can stand the test of time?
Arosio: Absolutely. The basic idea was to create an attractive and functional product which would be modular enough to adapt to changes in setting and usage, seeing as the modern lifestyles of young people change from one moment to the next. The workstation combines the main kitchen functions of preparation, cooking and washing in one unit, so it’s perfect for smaller apartments. The unit can also be upgraded at a later date if need be, for example, if you move into a bigger home. The catchphrase “Kitchens for Life” has never been more apt!