When Argentine-Swiss designer Alfredo Häberli was invited by LivingKitchen’s organisers Koelnmesse to design a display at the exhibition entitled ‘Future Kitchen’, he decided to take an alternative approach to the display.
“I deliberately want to elevate my design to a certain level of abstraction because the times in which we are living are moving incredibly fast. I therefore decided to base my design for Future Kitchen on a blend of minimalist architecture and virtual reality.”Alfredo Häberli
Haberli also wanted to address some important issues. The knowledge that we are already confronted with an increasing population, climate change and resource scarcity, raises some critical questions – how will sensuality be preserved if, in the future, food is produced in laboratories and reduced to the supply of protein? What happens when the act of cooking mutates into pure self-expression and hedonistic luxury? What will the kitchen of the future look like if we need to find solutions for preventing food waste?
These thoughts are an important part of today’s discourse about how to feed the planet. With my concept, I would therefore like to bring the kitchen and the preparation of food back into focus. As a workshop and the soul of the house, the kitchen is the link to the adjacent zones of the home, as well as the cultural activities connected with it – and thus forms the space for Sense & SensualityAlfredo Häberli
Taking the title ‘Sense and Sensuality, A Kitchen for the Near Future‘, the 160sq m stand at LivingKitchen was sparsely furnished with a long glass table and some chairs, with shelving, walls and surfaces painted a vibrant green, so at first visitors may have been a little perplexed by the nature of the display.
In an unconventional move, the detail of Häberli’s vision was only accessible with the help of audio guides and tablets, via a downloadable app. By scanning QR codes positioned on the green surfaces, visitors were able to access the different designs on a smart device.
Häberli’s Future Kitchen was essentially a sociable space, and formed the central living zone in a future house. The emphasis was on space saving and efficient living, and also sustainability, with the increasing shortage of resources in mind. A garden for growing vegetables was positioned alongside the kitchen in the installation, and prominent water cisterns for conserving and recycling water for all uses in the home were located in the kitchen and bathroom areas.
There were a total of 11 kitchen gadgets and appliances in the Future Kitchen. Prominent among them was a transparent, horizontal fridge concept – the result of a collaboration with Samsung. Keeping the contents visible from the outside meant that unnecessary opening and searching for items was avoided, with Häberli’s idea being that the energy released when the fridge door was opened could be fed into an integrated lower storage area that served as a warming rack for tableware
Schott Ceran partnered in the creation of the ultra-thin hob concept, which could be picked up like a tray to be positioned on any surface, and even outside to cook meals or keep them warm. It was without zones, but was able to recognise different sizes of pots and pans and heat them accordingly, while the portable element also allowed it to be stowed away when not in use.
The vision for the oven in the Future Kitchen was that it would descend from the ceiling when required, and was also transparent to enable the user to see the cooking process without opening the door, to reduce unnecessary heat loss.
Describing the kitchen utensil as neither oven nor steamer nor plate warmer, but as a ‘Heating Shell’ in which the energy required for cooking is supplied to the food from all sides instead of just from the bottom.
And to ensure that an ideal workflow can be established in the small apartments of the future, the «Heating Shell» also serves as a hatch between the kitchen and the dining area – there are openings on several sides that allow the appliance to be loaded and unloaded. When not in use, the unit floats back up towards the ceiling
Häberli describes his installation as “a glimpse of the near future”. His view is clearly that saving the planet is directly connected to the activities that take place in the kitchen at home.