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The Uber Answer To Fitted Kitchens

December 26, 2023

Anurag Yadav

A unique free spirit is an idea behind the ‘Concept kitchen’ that is mobile, fluid in structure and can be tweaked by the user.

The need for an optimised kitchen system today no longer hinges on superficial issues of home economics, but on the contextual function of the kitchen space in an often fast-changing living environment. What do we expect of kitchens as a place and in terms of furnishings; indeed, what do kitchens say about us and our lives? Today, kitchens have the connotations of individuality, are informed by a specific life that identifies its own special niches and is forever fleshing these out.

Most modern apartments have an open-plan kitchen. It all began with the revolutionary Frankfurt kitchen, some of which also had a serving hatch to the dining room that was the first opening step. The idea of an essentially open-plan kitchen was what drove designer Kilian Schindler when he started elaborating his notion of the Concept Kitchen – a project initiated by Naber GmbH, a corporation based in Nordhorn, and now supported by Tolix, a long-standing French company and renowned manufacturer of metal furniture.

The design of modules is made up of open shelves and closed storage areas. Photo Courtesy: Naber GmbH

Structured kitchens

Schindler focused on a kitchen structured by modules but co-defined by the users, who decide how they work in and utilise space in the kitchen and how best to engage it. The kitchen’s shape derives from the opportunities for its use, and the methods involved, meaning the kitchen space evolves depending on the users’ mindset, preferences and needs.

Naber took this idea as its leitmotif. As a specialist in kitchen accessories, the Concept Kitchen was the first time it had marketed kitchen furniture. The design chosen was new and direct, inspired by active life in the kitchen and the objects integrated into it as such as are forever being used or consumed.

Fusing functionality and emotions

In recent years, much theoretical and practical work has gone into moulding the kitchen into a room influenced by both functionality and emotions. It was designer Otl Aicher who in the early 1980s first grasped the kitchen as a sensual space, as a communal place for communicative action and it was he who emphasized the idea of the kitchen as a space for interaction and not just a place where food is prepared. According to him, the idea of the open plan kitchen was in many ways structured as if it were a workbench.

The design is for people who are unwilling to put up with a readymade fitted solution. Photo Courtesy: Naber GmbH

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The model

And in 2006 Mike Meiré revised the notion of the kitchen still further as an organism. His project highlighted the kitchen as a mobile and evolving living space where things centred on appliances, utensils, food and people and their interaction when cooking and eating.

Kilian Schindler took this as his starting point, but expanded considerations on the relationship in the kitchen to our behaviour toward it as a space. Concept Kitchen is construed not just as a place, but in terms of it constituting a module responding to changing spatial needs and conditions. The space we today define as a kitchen occurs where we need it, be it in the office, the studio, the living room, in an open space or in a corner of the room that we assign the function of the kitchen. The kitchen occurs, evolves forth and takes shape where and how it is needed.

The structure of the Concept Kitchen takes up these requirements. Kilian Schindler modified the kitchen both as a forum and a display. The design of the modules, which are made up of open shelves and closed storage areas, squares up to the idea of a kitchen that can change in the course of its daily use and therefore revolves around the model of the ‘open-plan kitchen’ and the procession aspects of function and aesthetics. This is a kitchen system that can be expanded by adding modules, or one’s own kitchen appliances, household items and food, and it is a form of furniture that can be categorised as a storage shelf, living room furniture and sculpture, depending on one’s particular whim at the time. The modular and highly flexible approach to furniture highlights above all the idea of transferring the kitchen as a space.

Moulding the kitchen into a room is influenced by both functionality and emotions. Photo Courtesy: Naber GmbH