We met up with architect Pietro Arosio and asked him to tell us about the origins of Board, the new kitchen which was officially launched at this year's Eurocucina exhibition and which is now available in all Snaidero showrooms.
Board stems from the demands of a target market which has changed a great deal. Can you tell us about the new approaches you took the project?
The primary consideration was this: the core of the flat or apartment market in terms of floor area has dropped from 100-120 m2 to 60-80 m2. Additionally, the prevailing logic behind living areas has shifted from a clear division between them, where each room has a specific function, to shared, open and fluid spaces. 90% of the time we are faced with a single living room area which has to perform the role of porch, kitchen, dining room and living room all at once. A flood of decor-based problems follow, leaving the final customer in a spot of bother. I don't think this change has come about solely because of the economic crisis we're going through. My view is that social changes have played a big part, along with new habits and customs that are quickly catching on. Recent statistics have shown how 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.
How, in your opinion, is the market changing as the new generation of "singles" gradually establishes itself?
The modern "single" person needs less room. This is due to financial considerations as well as the simple need to make the best use of the space they have available. Everything gets downsized as a result. Nevertheless, bachelors and bachelorettes are an ever more demanding group of people. They are becoming more active, vibrant and are often lovers of good food and drink. A group of connoisseurs who are sensitive to kitchen style and ambience and more inclined towards convivial, 'living room-style' arrangements. The work areas in these arrangements need to be functional, chock full of features and technology, and include 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" first and foremost. It's logical, then, that the kitchen should be the place to cultivate these feelings.
While we are on the subject, you have reinterpreted the relationship between food and its preparation with the Board workstation.
Nowadays, the term "design" means more than just the shape of an object: it refers to how this 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 for me a quality kitchen is one of these. Board is my attempt at designing a kitchen approach 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.
Another aspect which has gone some way to rewriting the stylistic conventions of product presentation is the concept of aesthetic and structural "lightness". Why did you base Board on these values?
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, isn't annoying and goes almost unnoticed. I don't like things that have too strong an identity. All told, I like to design simple products as far as possible.
What are the defining features of the kitchens of today?
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 personalised. 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, perceptions of beauty and financial wherewithal 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. Young people need to have a bit more of a free spirit, however, so Board is an industrial solution designed to capture this spirit in the kitchen.
So do you believe that Board addresses this need for an "evolving" kitchen that can stand the test of time?
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 studio apartments or small flats. The unit can also be upgraded at a later date if need be, i.e. if you move to a bigger house. The catchphrase "Kitchens for Life" has never been more apt!