Runtime: 3 months of the full 18 months process
Completed in: October 2014
Group project at IDEO London
Client: IKEA of Sweden

How will we behave around food in the future? Concept Kitchen 2025 is an exhibition designed in order to tangibly show what we might be doing in 2025: how we’ll be growing our food, storing it; how we’ll be cooking, eating, living and working in the kitchen.

Concept Kitchen 2025
The Concept Kitchen 2025 invites the users to behave in a more sustainable way in their everyday life. It doesn’t automate away personal choices, but rather facilitates mindfulness with embedded cues throughout the kitchen that subtly guide people toward being conscious of their actions and making informed decisions. One of the goals of the project was to preserve the tactile creative pleasure of the kitchen. Technology could easily make the space feel robotic and sterile, but this project was guided by the need to keep tech in the background: Technology should facilitate rather than taking over activities.
The kitchen concept consists of three main elements: The Table for Living, The Modern Pantry and the Mindful Water and Waste System.

Table for Living
The dining table has always been the heart of the kitchen, a place for preparing food, and eating it. As living space in the future will get smaller the table is designed to do so much more: it’s our preparation surface, hob, dining table, work bench and children’s play area. The integrated technology facilitates for these activities while maintaining warmth of the wooden surface. The technology consists of a camera and projector positioned above the table and induction coils underneath the table surface. Networked together, they allow the system to recognise objects and their movement and to project a display. This combination allows users to never interact with the technology directly but minimises distractions and allows for mindful engagement with food.

Three important over-arching concepts have been integrated in The Table for Living:

Engaged with what matters
Cooking is about food. That’s why all interactions with the table are directly with the food. Move ingredients together to get flavour pairings for the combination of ingredients, move pans in order to change the temperature, and place ingredients on a cutting board to get guidance on how to cut. Furthermore, the integrated weighing scales allow for ratio cooking. No more difficult calculations, guessing how much pasta you need for 3 persons when the recipe is for four persons. Instead, the recipes easily adapt the volumes of ingredients to the weight of the steak that you bought or to the amount of people that your are cooking for. Such direct interaction with the food allows for people to engage with cooking.

Support for any skill-level
No matter whether you are a beginning cook or a skilled cook, the table supports you either way. The table guides beginning cooks through the recipe step-by-step: from collecting ingredients, to giving advice on how to cut veggies, the timing, and temperature. This feature is perfect for involving children in the cooking process. For skilled cooks, the table enhances creativity by suggesting flavour pairings and supports recording, editing, and sharing of favourite recipes.

Adaptable recipes for real-life moments
We realise that people do not always have two hours to spend on preparing a meal. Therefore, people can set their preferred time window for cooking. Is there time to make your own pasta from flour, milk, and eggs or should the table suggest pre-packaged spaghetti? The recipe changes accordingly.

Modern Pantry
The Modern Pantry encourages us to have a closer relationship with what we eat by storing food in transparent individual containers on open shelves rather than hiding it at the back of a fridge. The design makes it easy to be inspired by what’s on-hand rather than going out to buy more, and it also saves energy: Induction-cooling technology embedded into the shelves responds to RFID stickers on the food’s packaging in order to keep the containers at just the right temperature.

Mindful Water and Waste System
The Mindful Water System pushes us to be more conscious of our water consumption with a basin that pivots left and right. It must be tipped to one side to drain toxic, or “black” water, and the other for safe “grey” water, which can be filtered and used in a dishwasher or as nourishment for the cooking herbs that grow above the sink.

The Thoughtful Disposal system is a response to the overuse of landfills, and reminds us of exactly what we’re throwing away. Users manually sort recycling from rubbish, and recyclables are then crushed, vacuum-packed, and labeled for pick-up, earning credits for the conscientious (and debits for the wasteful).

IKEA asked IDEO, along with 50 design students from Eindhoven University of Technology and Lund University, to explore what kitchen life could be like in 2025. During this period I developed Mindful Blending and the Mindful Kitchen Tap, which were presented at IKEA’s headquarter in Älmhult, Sweden.

Together with three other students I was selected in order to develop the Concept Kitchen 2025 at IDEO London. Based on the findings from our student projects and an iterative process of making and thinking the final concept emerged. Throughout this time I was involved in the development of the whole concept and specifically on the interactions of the Table for Living.

After the two-and-a-half month internship the concept was developed in high fidelity prototypes by IDEO and IKEA prototyping facilities. During this period I was involved in providing feedback in review sessions.