Eco-Design Interior Design 11 Small Kitchens That Grow, Move, and Change the Way You Think About Kitchens The Kitchen of the Future Today By Lloyd Alter Lloyd Alter Facebook Twitter Design Editor University of Toronto Lloyd Alter is Design Editor for Treehugger and teaches Sustainable Design at Ryerson University in Toronto. Learn about our editorial process Updated April 4, 2012 credit: RetroRenovation Share Twitter Pinterest Email Eco-Design Tiny Homes Architecture Interior Design Green Design Urban Design The dream kitchen used to be big, big enough to swing a water ski in. To have an aquarium in the island. But as we urbanize and move into smaller spaces, the kitchen has to adapt to the time and the space available. 1 of 13 Joe Colombo's Mini Kitchen credit: Joe Colombo/ BOFFI In 1964, Joe Colombo designed the Carrellone mini-kitchen that caused a sensation at the 13th Milan Triennale. It packed everything you need, fridge, and stove, into a tiny box. It didn't have a sink because that needs a permanent plumbing connection. 2 of 13 Joe Colombo's mini kitchen returns credit: Boffi You can get a lot into a tiny kitchen unit; Boffi has reintroduced the Compact Kitchen and I was surprised how much they show here. But do you need so much? Food writer Mark Bittman says that all you need really is "A stove, a sink, a refrigerator, some pots and pans, a knife and some serving spoons, All else is optional." He doesn't think much of people who spend a fortune on fancy kitchens, and writes in the Times: When it comes to kitchens, size and equipment don't count nearly as much as devotion, passion, common sense and, of course, experience. To pretend otherwise -- to spend tens of thousands of dollars or more on a kitchen before learning how to cook, as is sadly common -- is to fall into the same kind of silly consumerism that leads people to believe that an expensive gym membership will get them into shape or the right bed will improve their sex life. As runners run and writers write, cooks cook, under pretty much any circumstance. 3 of 13 Lessons from Camping: Coleman Kitchen credit: Coleman There are a lot of lessons we can learn about moveable feasts from camping equipment. If you don't cook that much, why have a big kitchen? For that matter, why have the kitchen take up space all the time when you don't need it? This folding kitchen from Coleman might be all that you really need. 4 of 13 Kanz Field Kitchen credit: Kanz A hundred years ago, kitchens were pretty much portable, with tables for working in the middle and cabinets against the walls, separate from the stoves and the iceboxes and sinks. There is some logic to it; you can mix and match the pieces easily and you an take it with you when you move. The Kanz companyhas an entire line of cabinets on legs where you can build a field kitchen in your home. 5 of 13 Snow Peak Comes Inside credit: Lloyd Alter Another company that makes outdoor kitchens that might work indoors is the Japanese camping equipment company Snow Peak, which is so confident about the design of their stuff that they brought it to the International Contemporary Furniture Fair in New York. They make it well and they make it to last: We believe that quality is better than quantity. In a time when most things are built as merely "pre-landfill", we are striving to bring you products that will last longer than you. 6 of 13 Bringing the Field Kitchen Indoors credit: Joko Domus You can carry the idea to extremes with the Cun Kitchen from JokoDomus. I wrote: There is a lot to love about this idea. It frees us from the tyranny of the 36" countertop and can put everything at the appropriate height, covered with an appropriate material. One could say that it is greener because you don't have to buy your whole kitchen at once, but can build it incrementally according to need and budget. You can move things around and even outside in summer. What's not to love? There are a lot more surfaces to clean, a lot more places to drop gunk. It probably costs a lot more money. 7 of 13 Michael Jantzen's Convertible Kitchen credit: Michael Jantzen Kitchens don't have to be against a wall, either; putting them in the middle, with all sides accessible, creates some interesting opportunities and a lot more frontage. Back in 1976, Michael Jantzen designed this wonderful unit that is in the middle of a cabin; when it is time to eat, you pop up the sides and it becomes a dining room. 8 of 13 Arthur Bonnet's Island Kitchen credit: Arthur Bonnet French kitchen designer Arthur Bonnet does an update of the full island kitchen here. It is hardly a space-saver, and running from the sink to the range is a big circle instead of a short triangle. but I liked the way it floats as a centerpiece in the room. Commenters were dismissive, saying "Conventional bathroom/kitchen designs exist for a reason...wiring and plumbing are easy to run" but that is letting the electricians and plumbers design your house. I disagree. 9 of 13 RuBIKA slips and slides into different shapes credit: Lodovico Bernardi Lodovico Bernardi's RuBIKA is another example of how kitchen components can move and shift according to need. It's a kitchen! It's a dining table! It's conceived for small spaces to gives wide versatility to the kitchen's room. You can use the kitchen and the table as you want and as you need by moving and rotating it. Rubika's project permits a drastic reduction of material than a normal kitchen's furniture. 10 of 13 Circle Kitchen/ Orgasmatron credit: Clever Kitchen Then there is the famous Circle Kitchen, winner of a Red Dot Design Award. I has the equivalent of 12 cupboards in a rotating kitchen, with doors that close to cover all of your unwashed dishes, at which point it is a dead ringer for Woody Allen's Orgasmatron from Sleeper. Somehow it has flexible plumbing and wiring connections that keep working while it spins. 11 of 13 Philippe Starck's Tower for Warendorf credit: Warendorf Philipe Starck takes an interesting turn on the Rotating kitchen with his twin turning towers for Warendorf, which include ovens, microwave, dishwasher and fridge. The sink and stove are on the separate island, and are beautifully detailed. It is efficient and open, and leaves lots of room for a woman in evening wear to use her jackhammer on big chunks of glass. 12 of 13 Targa Italia Folds Into Box credit: Targa Italia For sheer elegance and simplicity, I don't think anything matches Piero Esposito of Targa Italia's Opening. A fine piece of furniture and a kitchen at the same time, Opening appears as a block of precious wood, totally smooth, absent and essential: when it is closed it does not reveal its being a kitchen, which however hides astonishing potentialities inside. I am not certain that this is the thing for someone who cooks a lot; a "block of precious wood" does not make a good work surface. But it would be a killer in a small urban apartment. 13 of 13 The Kitchen of the Future Who knows what the kitchen of the Future will really look like; we are having trouble keeping up with the changes in the Kitchen of the Present.