Kitchens aren’t what they used to be and thank goodness for that.
According to well-known style writer Anne Reagan, “Historically, kitchens weren’t luxurious and unlike today’s kitchen, they were not rooms where people wanted to spend time in. They definitely weren’t rooms meant for hosting guests or entertaining.”
“They were dark and prone to catching fire; they were filled with noises, messes and smells. They were extremely busy spaces and could be hot and uncomfortable. For these reasons, kitchens tended to be situated as far away as possible from the social or private rooms in a home.”
“Even the lower classes placed the kitchen away from the centre of the home by moving them to the back of the house, next to the outdoor work areas,” says Reagan,
Architect Ana Lopes Ramos points out that, “Economic trends and politics had a major influence on the design and function of the kitchen. Technological advancements were constant, most of which aimed to reduce labour and time. In the 18th Century, the stoves were fuelled by wood,” says Lopes Ramos.
Over time, the kitchen took on a life of its own, with the post-World War Two era being a pivotal time in the development of the design of the modern kitchen as we know it today.
“The housing boom and manufacturing advancements of post-World War II made a huge impact on the “modern” kitchen. There was an increased demand for kitchen technology and equipment that inspired homeowners to tear down the walls that once hid their utilitarian kitchens. The kitchen was becoming quieter, cleaner, better organised and easier to work in; a source of pride, and slowly a place worthy of entertaining guests,” says Lopes Ramos.
“In the 1960’s and 1970’s other social changes were taking place that improved the style of the kitchen. A renewed interest in home cooking, fetishizing kitchen utensils and entertaining meant that the kitchen became a source for improving culinary skills, displaying designer cookware and becoming the heart for social activity.”
“By the 1980’s, the idea of a completely open kitchen, with appliances designed to show off, came into being,” she notes.
And how much have things changed. With on onset of the 21st century, alfresco became ‘a thing’, while technology and innovative materials became de rigueur.
Now, in 2021, the kitchen has well and truly traversed both the inside and outside space of a house and is no longer ‘just’ a place to cook and eat, but rather, a place to enjoy life as well as to experience all that the modern culinary and design worlds have to offer.
According to recent figures, the latest lending data shows the average Australian renovator tackling a project amid the coronavirus crisis spent 23 percent more on their project than people who renovated before the pandemic began.
Victorians were the biggest spenders, with the average renovation costing $71,067, followed by NSW renovators spending $66,609 on average.
And thanks to a raft of cash incentives from the federal government, kitchens have featured prominently in these upgrades.
Technology cooks up a storm
A spokesperson for appliance maker Fisher & Paykel says its Touchscreen Oven helps cooks of all skill levels intuitively produce perfect results in the kitchen with guided cooking technologies.”
This technology has been designed to remove the guesswork for the home chef so they can focus on “creating exceptional cuisine.”
“You can now cook by key ingredient, method or recipe – either following prompts to the letter or branching out to create a dish with your own signature twist,” the spokesperson notes.
Supported by technology, heat is circulated evenly and precisely throughout the generously sized cavity, ensuring a consistent temperature at every stage of cooking.
It has 17 oven functions and pyrolytic self-cleaning technologies that break down food residue for an easy clean, the company says.
For a heritage feel with contemporary performance, Fisher & Paykel point to its Freestanding Cooker, with its spacious gas cooktop and generously sized convection oven it offers the availability to cook several dishes at the same time.
Built with Fisher & Paykel’s AeroTech system, it circulates air evenly throughout the entire oven so dishes on the top shelf turn out just as perfect as food cooking on the bottom shelf. Safety features include quadruple-glazed CoolTouch door and fully extending sliding shelve, the company says.
Scratching just below the stone surfaces
Caesarstone’s Outdoor Collection engineered stone surface technology works for a broad range of applications, from internal kitchens and bathrooms to external poolside bars and alfresco kitchens, in other words, opening up a well of inspiration for seamless design inside and out.
According to general manager of marketing, Grant Vandenberg, “Until now, there hasn't been an outdoor surface material as durable as Caesarstone. With our new outdoor range, people can have complete peace of mind for a long-lasting application in their alfresco designs."
“Caesarstone Outdoor Collection surfaces maintain exceptional mechanical and physical properties after long-term exposure to the sun and seasonal weather changes; outperforming other common outdoor surfaces, including granite, ceramic, concrete and stainless steel in standardised testing,” he says.
But it’s not just about the aesthetics or longevity of use, there is the issue of user safety as well.
As Michell Bridger-Darling from CASF, the manufacturer of the Corian range of surface technology notes, “Corian solid surfaces have low VOC (Volatile Organic Compounds) content and have proven to be extremely safe as surfacing materials for over 50 years, with minimal impact on indoor air quality.”
“In addition” she says, “these nonporous surfaces do not promote the growth of mould and mildew when properly cleaned, making them ideal choices for healthcare and food preparation facilities, schools, offices and homes for use in countertops, wall cladding, sinks and a wide variety of other applications.”
Achieving more from your kitchen furniture
Rachael Davis from kitchen furniture maker Blum, says that “Modern technology and quality hardware from Blum gives designers the capability of creating beautiful aesthetics and functionality within their designs.”
“Because of this,” she says, “…Space Step gives designers the opportunity to stand out from the rest. The Space Step can be paired with Blum’s Legrabox, Tandembox, and Movento box systems.”
“Space Step can be easily implemented with Blum’s motion technologies such as Tip-On Blumotion. For designers who want their clients to experience supreme user convenience,” says Davis, adding that, “Space Step can also be combined with the Servo-Drive electrical opening support system. With a light touch of the front, the pull-out glides open and then closes silently and effortlessly with soft-close Blumotion.”
Let’s go outside for a BBQ
Christie Barbecues is the manufacturer the original Australian gas and electric public barbecue.
Joe Moore from Christie says that their outdoor cooking products are “…engineered for ease of use, energy efficiency, and to withstand harsh outdoor environments and heavy use that can defeat domestic and commercial alternatives.”
“Since 1965,” says Moore, “they have evolved into self-contained commercial cooking appliances that can be ordered with our pre-fabricated cabinets or built into any outdoor kitchen project. The heavy-duty stainless-steel grill plate offers a versatile and durable cooking surface that meets diverse cultural and dietary needs.”
“We focus exclusively on providing the safest, most reliable, most energy-efficient products on the market while providing the ultimate cooking experience. Pre-set temperature and cooking times allow users to simply push a button, wait for the sterilisation cycle, cook and leave,” he says.
Moore also notes that sustainability is a core value at Christie Barbecues and entails more than just recycling and lower their power consumption.
“We consider our products carbon footprint throughout their design life. We are a third-generation family-owned business, and manufacture our products in Australia, with local partners and locally sourced materials.”
“Our factory is 100 percent powered by solar electricity; we use only recyclable packaging, and we manufacture our barbecues from recyclable stainless steel and aluminium,” he says.
Removing all the bad air wherever it may be
Condor Rangehoods are designed and manufactured in Australia to compliment all alfresco and outdoor areas. The latest design in outdoor entertaining can now become truly viable with the addition of a Condor Rangehood. The Condor Rangehood will remove all by-products of outdoor cooking – smoke, grease and odours.
“Many barbecues installed in alfresco areas can be quite elaborate and exotic. They can include different cooking appliances, such as side burners, wok burners and rotisserie spikes, and are available in natural and LP gas. Significantly, they can generate an enormous amount of smoke and odours,” says John Keating from Condor distributor Condari.
“Alfresco areas are becoming more popular and barbecues are becoming more elaborate and complex putting out more heat. The problem with ventilation is when the heat output of the barbecue is over 65 megajoules (MJ) or each burner is 15 MJ or greater. Correct ventilation allows full use of all the facilities in the Alfresco areas,” he points out.
Keating says that “The barbecues available in today’s market place can produce an output of up to 130 MJ. The air movement of the exhaust system must be greater than the updraft caused by the burners of the barbecue.”
“The Condor Rangehood achieves this via three forward curved centrifugal fan motors with a maximum air movement of 2700 cubic metres of air per hour. This is matched by an incomparable degree of quietness, which is achieved by fully insulating the rangehood with sound-deadening material,” he says.
Over at Australian-owned Schweigen, the challenge in rangehood design has been to generate as much consistent extraction power, as quietly and efficiently as possible. This is especially relevant in modern homes that are increasingly being designed for energy efficiency.
To achieve this, Schweigen’s Jerry Yap says the company started by sourcing the quietest and most powerful domestic extraction fan available, and integrated the German-made, centrifugal fan technology into a Schweigen-designed and patented motor system called the Isodrive.
“The Isodrive is installed outside of the home, on the roof, wall or eave and connected to the rangehood with acoustically-matched, right-sized flexible ducting. Air extraction is done in one seamless energy-efficient pull from outside the home - unlike traditional internally-motored rangehoods that need to work twice as hard to first pull air into the canopy and then push it through ducting to the outdoors, introducing air turbulence and noise as it does so,” he says.
According to Yap, it is “available in a range of motor options to suit your needs, Isodrive motor systems require just 57W of power to run and can offer energy savings of more than 300 percent.”
Fridges, Freezers and Wine Cabinets
Fisher & Paykel’s Quad Door Fridge Freezer has been designed to offer storage flexibility, LED lighting and a contemporary design. It features three large, independent compartments to provide ample storage space, as well as Variable Temperature Zone (VTZ), which allows similar food types to be placed into separate zones where temperature can be adjusted to suit produce at the press of a button, according to a company brochure.
Fisher & Paykel says its Integrated Columns Refrigeration, Freezer and Wine Cabinets are “designed with state-of-the-art food care technology, including Variable Temperature Zoning (VTZ) which allows similar food types to be placed into separate zones where temperature can be adjusted to suit produce at the press of a button. For wine, this allows for long term storage, as well as the perfect serving temperatures for every wine variety”.
These modular appliances can be mixed and matched with different sizes and finishes and installed side by side or individually throughout the kitchen. Designed with 3mm gaps and no visible hinges or grilles means these appliances have been “engineered to fit flush with cabinetry for a seamless and considered kitchen aesthetic,” the company says.
Water-wise means energy-wise
Natalie Whelan from Billi Australia notes that when it comes to supplying water to your kitchen - whether inside or out – not all water delivery systems have been created equal.
“Our Eco and Quadra ranges are Global Greentag certified. This is one of the world’s most robust, trusted and widely recognised ecolabels. It ensures every product is fitness tested and certified under leading certification programs.”
“Our products also include energy saving features such as eco intelligence (self-learning timer), standby mode and Heat Exchange technology which captures waste heat energy from chilling water to preheat the boiling water.”
“We also have a range of dispenser designs which come in a wide range of finishes to suit modern kitchen design,” says Whelan.
The fall and rise of the kitchen
The home kitchen looked like it was on its way out. First, the walls came down, turning the separated family kitchen into an open-plan living space. Next, full gas stovetops, ovens and fridges were snubbed for the more economical kitchenette. Then IKEA predicted home kitchens would vanish altogether within a decade.
“When we look at the pressures from developers and [lifestyle] changes, these things point towards our home spaces getting smaller,” says Dr Sing D’Arcy from UNSW Built Environment.
But the interior architect is not so sure about a kitchen-less future. He believes the pandemic has led to a resurgence of the kitchen and the need for us to reconsider the importance of domestic cooking spaces.
“With COVID-19 and lockdowns ... it has completely changed things,” he says. “All of a sudden we’re in a situation where a basic necessity such as preparing food can really only be accommodated in the home.”
The decline of the in-home kitchen can be attributed in part to the rise of app-based food delivery services. At the same time as Uber Eats and Deliveroo take food preparation away from home, space is increasingly becoming a premium in our cities.
“There has been a trend towards outsourcing our living needs and our spatial needs to other providers, like takeaway, libraries, gyms etc. and developers are pretty clued into that,” Dr D’Arcy says.
“Now what we see in places like inner-city Melbourne, where there isn’t a minimum size apartment, is a lot of tiny apartments, in some cases without light, nestled in the middle of the city.”
Dr D’Arcy also believes the resurgence of activities like home baking during the pandemic has given renewed value to the kitchen as an in-home space.
“These activities that people are doing during lockdown like baking, you can’t do if you don’t have the room,” he says. “Maybe we do want – and need – a discreet and separate kitchen, for our sanity and our mental health.”
The kitchen of the future
Dr D’Arcy says as more people settle into working from home long term, the need increases for cooking areas to be more separate and discreet.
“We now find that you can’t actually have a meeting when someone is trying to prepare a meal, for example,” he says. “We might need to start putting the walls back up.”
When asked whether the kitchen is here to stay for the long term, Dr D’Arcy says perhaps the concept of what a room is – with a defined and static purpose – is something we shouldn’t become too attached to.
“Over time, the way that we have defined rooms and the number of rooms we need and what the function of those rooms are has changed,” he says.
“It’s something specific to cultures, and it’s something specific times, and those things will always change.”
According to Global Kitchen: The Home Kitchen in the Era of Globalisation, the kitchen of the future will be a multi-functional, smart-connected and health and wellness-focused space.
Speaking to Houzz, Vanessa Feo Kutsch, head of international communications for the Cosentino Group, noted that, “The report compiled the main design and usage trends for the kitchen of the future.”
“The results concluded the kitchen will be a space for leisure, work, health and relaxation, and with smart appliances and connectivity, and incorporating techniques and devices normally found in professional kitchens,” she says.
Fisher & Paykel