Foresight Analysis: Sensory Kitchens

Kitchen Design working towards a powerful multi-sensory experience

Kitchen Design working towards a powerful multi-sensory experience

In this feature, first seen in MIX Magazine, issue 45, we discover an exploration of the senses in the kitchen centre, where touch, sound, smell and sight all work towards a powerful multi-sensory experience.

While it seems unlikely that ambitious architectural designs in the kitchen sector will ever fall out of favour, there is always room for another approach. Cool, monolithic elegance is now being matched with warmer, more intimate designs that clearly aim to provoke sensory delight. Textures, both decorative and functional, are more sensual and tactile. And a more ‘human’ approach is being embraced, with soft touch surfaces, material juxtapositions and gloss versus matt finishes, all contributing to a multi-sensory experience.

Kitchen Design working towards a powerful multi-sensory experience

Image by Peer Lindgreen

A lot of this can be traced back to an increasing intimacy in the way we are seeing food presented through digital media, with an accent on the everyday and the domestic. This trend has been catapulted into the mainstream by the extraordinary popularity of a new wave of health food Bloggers. The message is clear; kitchens can be messy, mismatched and ever so slightly chaotic, just as long as they are expressing creativity and direct engagement with food.

The blurring of boundaries between kitchen and the rest of the living space has its part to play.  “Current trends do not clearly divide the kitchen from the living area, so we see shelf units, incorporated in the wall, used not just for equipment but for decorative accessories that add sensory interest and an unclinical, more homely feel,” says Stefan Waldenmaier, CEO of Leicht AG. Laurence Pidgeon, Director, Laurence Pidgeon agrees: “We are increasingly seeing large bookshelves/open shelves at the end of the island which aids the transition into the living space, perfect for displaying personal objects and collections.”

Kitchen Design working towards a powerful multi-sensory experience

(c) MVRDV

This idea of a more sensory approach to kitchen design charts a clear evolution from Patricia Urquiola’s important Salinas design for Boffi, with its modular approach, low units and open shelves.There are also references here to Caesarstone’s collaboration with Tom Dixon for The Restaurant by Caesarstone & Tom Dixon and TheSize’s integrative approach, working with gastronomy and culinary management campus Gasma and restaurant Samsha. There are even nods to MVRDV’s fully transparent kitchen.

And finally, colour can also be harnessed to create an even more immersive kitchen experience. Bespoke Kitchens & Furniture design label Jack Trench has experimented with chromatherapy, usually seen in bathrooms, incorporating light and colour as a kind of therapeutic mood enhancer. “In our experience, a good lighting scheme is crucial to enhance a kitchen’s sensory experience,” explains Julie Chan, Business Development & Communications, Jack Trench Ltd.