In many ways the kitchen is an overlooked loved one, an extension to our family that gets very little appreciation. The kitchen is a complex environment and sometimes it only gains true recognition at the point when it has been decided that the relationship should end. Contemplating a new kitchen is like inviting a stranger into your home, a new lover into your bed and in some instances the domestic stage players can feel uneasy without their regular props at hand! So what is on offer to someone thinking of breaking off a long term kitchen relationship?
There are two avenues that a consumer can take. The first is the “One Night Stand Kitchen” and the second is “The Keeper”! The one night stand kitchen is very smooth, incredibly beautiful and will have your friends drooling with envy. But this kitchen is shallow and selfish; it has been designed to draw you into a false sense of security only to disappoint! It lacks design substance and leaves you isolated from your friends and family. Just like a one night stand it can bring great pleasure in the short term only to be replaced by pangs of guilt! The keeper kitchen is also inspiringly gorgeous but it has been designed with your best interests at heart. The keeper looks after you and is organised around your needs. The keeper encourages social interaction providing a backdrop for new memories and becoming an invaluable part of your home life.
Johnny Grey has been influential in the advancement of kitchen design as a discipline and has helped to open the door into the world of complex multi-layered design thinking. It would be safe to say that Johnny designs “keepers”!
As Johnny rightly points out the kitchen has become a truly social space encouraging interaction and cementing the norms and values of our social culture. Even if we work silently in the kitchen and do not engage in conversation you will find that the very meals being preparing are encouraging a sense of cultural identity and laying the foundations for future generations. Surely this idea optimises the power of the social kitchen!
I take Johnny Grey’s point about many people now seeing kitchens in the wrong light, as “shiny plastic, un-cuddly and depressing…” (A one night stand kitchen?!), but I would disagree with the notion that people are becoming unexcited or simply disinterested in kitchens? Is it a case that priorities have changed and that individuals, businesses and society have lost touch with the concept of home? Is the average consumer being misguided throughout the buying process in order to sell more kitchens! Do people now want kitchens that lack substance but help their image? Are we living in a disposable kitchen culture?
Increasingly the media and industry moguls have presented the kitchen as a disposable fashion accessory, used to flaunt affluence and social position. This idea is re-enforced by celebrity endorsement and strategic product placements. All of this together presents a powerful message to the consumer.
Many times I have spoken to people who actually needed to be educated about the functionality of the kitchen. Clients can sometimes be pre-occupied by notions of grandeur, fantasizing about the aesthetics and what their friends will think as opposed to seriously considering the impact that this product will have on their home life if it doesn’t work well or fit their lifestyle properly. Maybe this lack of knowledge on the clients behalf has led to the under valuation of the kitchen designer!
On a sociological level it could be argued that the fashion label kitchen culture, combined with technology is now encouraging the notion of a disposable family unit with some kitchens being designed only for visual impact, not considering sociability or even functionality. As long as it looks okay on the outside and has a nice expensive looking badge we don’t need to consider the family element, we’ll just eat out!!! Maybe this is why Johnny has used words like; “shiny plastic, un-cuddly and depressing…” in his industry address. The soul and the names behind the designs have been removed from the equation by people in power and as a consequence mass produced kitchens have become soulless.
I’m with Johnny when he says that kitchen design is reinventing itself as there appears to be a new found appreciation for the art of multi layered kitchen design. Kitchen design is changing at grass roots level with many designers adopting a multi layer approach. Thinking back to my first experience of a kitchen showroom I recall being told; “….door, handle worktop…that’s it..simple”; oh how times have changed!
When thinking about the future I hope that the kitchen industry champions its designers and craftspeople who add substance to the product we all know and love. Maybe in the future you will find that your one night stand has not sneaked out early but is in-fact still there beside you waiting to make a surprise meal!