In a world full of incredible technology, why can we still not imagine anything more interesting than a woman making dinner alone?
Writing off all these hypothetical kitchens as nonsense ignores how powerful the effect of their messaging can be.
Gender role stereotypes are so obnoxious — even though in my household I am the one who cooks. We went to an open house in the fancy part of our neighborhood once just to see what it looked like inside. The realtor chatted with us, and as we’re walking out the door, he points at my husband and tells him, “She wants a new kitchen, and you’re gonna pay for it!”
[Engineers and designers] operate on the premise that people don’t know what they need until it’s built for them. This is a useful principle in some ways, but when it comes to reconsidering how people interact with spaces and appliances they use every day with fluency, it results in an approach to innovation that only calls for talking, never listening.
The result is an array of potential futures that are strangely both unaware of the culture from which they spring, and at the same time constrained by it.
A “we know better” perspective? Here’s another opportunity for co-design.
Solving for problems with technology is exciting / venture capital-izable, while the more common “boring” problems that make a kitchen easier to use probably involve: improved storage, simpler / easier cleaning, and lower maintenance.
What would my dream kitchen have that I don’t have now?
- A counter depth fridge with freezer on the bottom, not the side –> stop food from getting lost in the back of our fridge
- An induction stovetop (currently have electric coil 😢) –> easy to clean stovetop that I won’t burn myself on
- A hood range that actually vents outside –> healthier indoor air quality while I’m cooking
- More counter space, especially next to the stovetop –> more room for mise en place / less stressful cooking
- An easy-to-clean, low-maintenance countertop (currently have tile 😭) –> cleaner countertops that don’t always look grimy like tile grout
- An easier-to-use pantry (ours has wire shelves that stuff falls through, and the shelves are too deep to see everything) –> less annoyance, easier access
- Storage that’s easier for a short person like me to reach and use (I can’t reach half of the cabinet where we keep cups) –> less annoyance from lugging my stepstool around
- Appliance storage so I don’t have to heft my heavy stand mixer up from floor level –> would use my appliances more often
- Somewhere to store cat food (right now it’s in overflow storage under the stairs) –> save myself a trip down the hall
I could currently buy any of these things, if I had the money. No new inventions required.
New kitchen inventions I would like:
- A blender that’s not a pain in the ass to wash.
- Dishwashable non-stick pans.
- Knives that hold their edge like carbon steel but don’t rust or react with red veggies.
- Storage for tupperware — an apparently impossible problem 🤣
We’ve now lived in our house ten years without remodeling the 1988 kitchen 😂 Sure, a new kitchen would probably work a little better and be prettier. Yeah, I have a Pinterest inspo board, but I can admire pretty things without buying them. And how many hours of my and my husband’s lives do I really want to trade for a fancier kitchen?
See also: The Politics of Kitchen Design