Sustainability will drive the future of kitchens: design as narrated by the magazines

Edicola Erno

Edicola Erno, Rome

The Architectural Review, est Magazine, Möbelmarkt and VILLAS explain why housing revolutions start from the kitchen, a space inextricably intertwined with our wellbeing and that of the planet

Nowhere more than in the kitchen is there such a delicate balancing act between design, style, technology, energy and waste. Kitchens need to be clean, efficient, welcoming and visually stunning. The fourth appointment devoted to the story of design as told by newsrooms all over the world focuses on all this and more. 

Scouring the globe for architecture that challenges and inspires, The Architectural Review (AR) is an international magazine published in London since 1896. AR kicked off 2022 with a kitchen issue, looking at the space’s ambivalent state between labour and leisure, as the online editorial explains. “The kitchen is a contentious site – says Manon Mollard, the editor of AR - its scale and position in the home fluctuating as labour is redistributed and new efficiencies sought. In time and in space, its walls have been solidified and torn down, but in each iteration the kitchen and all its contents remain stubbornly fraught. From the revolutionary Frankfurt Kitchen to how cooking goes beyond domesticity in supporting collective resistance practices, the AR Kitchen issue looks at the ambivalent state of the kitchen, between labour and leisure, and dissects the forces of capital, technology and politics that breathe it into being. 
Within the home, the kitchen is also the room subject to most renovations, driven by fashion cycles that are getting increasingly shorter. In European homes new kitchen furniture is purchased on average every 15 years, and sometimes within far shorter time frames, despite kitchens being built to last some 25 years; kitchen furniture amounts to a quarter of the 10 million tonnes of furniture discarded each year in the EU. 
This June, the AR will be in Milan during the 2022 Salone del Mobile.Milano, hosting a public event titled ‘The architecture of waste: from the spoon to the city’ in partnership with Electrolux. Taking different sites as starting points - a kitchen cupboard, a recycling centre and an urban park – this panel discussion will look at ways to reduce waste and present ideas to encourage more reuse, recycling and repair in the spaces of everyday life. Waste needs to be made visible, and become a subject for discussion and debate” 

Once a year est Magazine also looks at kitchens, the heart and hub of the home, a place for cooking, sharing and caring for family and friends. Est’s digital kitchen issue is titled “Modern Craft” and Sophie Lewis, managing Editor of est Magazine and, explains that this time “we set out to recognise the importance of design details to the overall aesthetic and experience of a kitchen. We know that craftsmanship is often best appreciated in this space, together with original design thinking and material experimentation. The kitchen determines how we live in our homes; directly tied to our health and wellbeing and that of the planet. We wanted to see how designers around the globe are confronting our understanding of this space through several case study kitchens where design is shaped by craft. At the same time, we deconstructed defining kitchen elements as part of ‘The est best: 50 Kitchen Fixtures, Lighting, Products and Materials’. Modern Craft highlights an intuitive, human-centred approach to kitchen design. It calls attention to a return to traditional building methods and bespoke intervention, as an expression of premium, authentic design. Belgian architect Benoit Viaene, who designed the cathedral-like kitchen on the cover of Modern Craft, reflects on this when achieving a design resolution. 'An idea or design can be strong on a drawing board or presentation, but in the end, the skills of craftspeople make it real,' Benoit says. Humbert & Poyet director Emil Humbert also featured in Modern Craft attests to this relationship between designer and maker. 'In all of our designs, we think it is important to carefully select the best artisans in order to keep traditional craftsmanship alive,' Emil says.” 

Sebastian Lehmann, the editor in chief of the küche&bad forum of the German magazine Möbelmarkt, anticipates some of the upcoming trends in terms of design and style: “Kitchens made in Germany enjoy a first-class reputation worldwide. And the willingness of customers to spend money on good things is unbroken. When it comes to kitchen cabinets, the increased value awareness of consumers is reflected in the choice of material and design, i.e. the design. Foil and melamine resin fronts were in demand years ago, but today lacquer and lacquer laminate are the dominant front designs. There is now less demand for high gloss. Matt surfaces with anti-fingerprint are also en vogue. In terms of colour, white and beige dominated, but also grey, anthracite and black. Natural materials, good storage space solutions and especially the ‘merging of living and cooking’ dominate customer demand. The devices that belong to the kitchen are becoming more and more innovative and smarter. Stove, oven, dishwasher, refrigerator and other devices can be controlled and even communicate with each other via an app if desired. What only a few star restaurateurs were denied a few years ago, everyone can now experience in their own private kitchen.” These are the reasons why the German magazine of International Interior Business dedicates an entire section every month to investigate the market of this world that welcomes both aesthetics and technology at the same time. 

The latest trends in the world of kitchens are also the focus of this month’s issue of VILLAS, the Belgian magazine founded in 1970. Managing Director Alexandra Hombergen says that "in March we dedicated an entire section to beautiful, inspirational kitchens. From slow design to free-standing modular models, the kitchen has today been turned into a living room - the nerve centre of the modern home, the place where the family most often gathers. In her Letter from the Editor, Hombergen states that “Ask any (wo)man which is the most essential room in the house, and, without running the risk of being sexist, they are bound to say the kitchen! In this issue, we have set out to find the most functional and the most elegant ones out there. A true ode to creativity.” Then again, says Hombergen, “A big part of VILLAS’s DNA is about sharing and inspiration exchange between experts, artists, creatives, curators, readers, and - above all - aficionados” attracted by the prospect of leafing through the magazine’s selection of the best design projects from all over the world.

Above: Edicola Erno, Roma, “not an  ordinary bookstall”.

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28 April 2022