A few years back, kitchen design was not given the importance it deserved — very few or no cabinets at all, no assigned spaces for appliances, little light and ventilation. Although the kitchen has always been the heart and soul of a home space, it was a secluded space; never integrated into your lifestyle. But today, kitchen designs are evolving and how! The more fragmented our world has become, the more open spaces we live in, which has resulted into integrated kitchen designs. “This requires good planning and extensive consumer insights to meet the real needs of consumer,” says Pernilla Johansson, Design Director, Electrolux, Asia Pacific. She shares her expertise on the kitchen design trends in the market. Excerpts from an interview:
How has kitchen design evolved in the past few years, especially in India?
In India we see an increase of pre-fitted kitchens. In the past you bought empty apartments, however, nowadays a nicely designed modern kitchen is increasing both in attractiveness and value on the property market. The investment of a modern kitchen can be quite high, though in the bigger scale property investments, it is relatively low.
What kitchen design trends do your foresee?
The built-in kitchen is taking on a new form with further focus on ‘hide-away’ features allowing the kitchen to blend in with the overall living space. Smart, ambient and functional LED lights, for example, in drawers and cabinets are becoming more and more common.
Is the concept of an open kitchen, modular kitchen here to stay?
Yes and likely to become even more open and integrated, even with the outdoor space. The kitchen of the past will become the laundry room of the future.
How should an ideal kitchen be — what makes it comfortable, considering in India, women spend half of their time in this space?
A well planned kitchen should be an open, light space, with good ventilation and a well-thought work flow. It’s also important to select the appliances in the early stage, while designing the kitchen so that they do not stand out as a sore thumb; they should blend in with the overall design of the kitchen. Also, in Asia, the kitchen is often designed around the hood due to the heavy use of oil, garlic and chillies. Therefore people should use hoods with powerful suction in the kitchen. Even if used for a short time, it helps in balancing the noise level of the kitchen to ensure the overall sound level is kept low.
Many modern homes choose to also install an oven though it’s not a tool used for Asian cooking. People like to experiment with new types of foods and the oven has become an icon of the modern kitchen. Today, designers go to great lengths to either hide the oven away behind sliding doors or make a real sculptural statement with it. As for refrigerators, they come in many configurations — from fully built-in to freestanding slot-in types. In India, you mostly see the freezer on top of the refrigeration. However with the use of less freezing space, it would seem more relevant from an ergonomics point of view, to have the lesser-used freezer on the bottom.
How important is lighting and the colours used?
Lighting is very important. Research has shown that good light impacts people’s general happiness in life and there is nothing more important than happiness. Colours depend on culture, personal taste and availability — the latter is often determined by the overall trend. India was to start a more colourful culture than Europe, however the economic crisis has calmed things down a bit and you see more focus on timeless qualitative solutions. Though you see less colours and patterns today than in the past five years, the colours used are usually strong vibrant colours. When you see patterns, they are subdued that take a secondary supportive role to the design. The idea is that the kitchen too can reflect your personality, just as any other room in your home does.
Home spaces are getting smaller, how do you visualise a kitchen say — 20 years down the line?
Say by 2050, when about 74% of the global population is expected to live in urban environments, kitchen design will be all about modularity and sustainability — that’s where we are heading. If spaces are getting smaller and there are more single households, it’s likely that we see smaller personal spaces and more communal spaces, which will include the kitchen too.
Tell us something about your own kitchen back home?
I’m currently in the process of designing my own kitchen, however it’s still in the drawing stage and I'm looking forward to kick off the project after the summer.
As it stands it will be an open planned bar kitchen located in the middle of the house — the heart of the home.
The appliances in my kitchen will be integrated into a kitchen of matte white tempered glass doors and the counter-top will be thin anthracite quartz stone. The final touch will be to work out how to integrate smart lights and make sure there are enough electrical points hidden away and out of sight for the few freestanding appliances needed frequently and for direct access.