One of the most intriguing exhibits at the LivingKitchen trade fair in Cologne is the Future Kitchen by Alfredo Häberli. The Argentine-Swiss designer has created an interactive installation that invites visitors to contemplate culinary culture and food preparation by using augmented reality to visualize conceptual appliances that are yet to be manufactured.
“The kitchen is the soul of the home,” Häberli told ArchiExpo e-Magazine. “I grew up in restaurants and hotels, and I spent more time in the kitchen than the living room; it’s a central place, and I wanted to invent something a little bit different.”
His prototype design balances technology and tradition centered on an open, versatile space that exemplifies the spirit of “degrowing”—a pragmatic, minimal approach to furnishings and tools.
“I’m thinking about what I really need,” explained Häberli, “and trying to reduce the number of items that we use—especially electronic equipment.”
His ideas include a number of hybrid designs which combine standard functions, such as a horizontal fridge, with different temperature zones, which recycles waste heat from the cooling system to thaw frozen goods when they are removed from the unit. The fridge itself stands at eye level, perched on legs, while the warming station lies below.
Another forward-thinking item is a mobile stove that essentially takes the form of a serving tray with an “intelligent heating surface,” which recognizes the specifications of different pots, pans and food types, cooking them automatically at the tap of a button. This enables a host to cook at their table with guests, or outside in the open air, and means the appliance can be easily stashed away when it’s not in use.
A similar line of thought applies to a free-standing oven which doubles up as a steamer and plate-warmer, offering three complementary options for preparing food.
“How big must an oven be if the largest thing I prepare is a turkey, and the smallest is a bag of popcorn?” said Häberli. “Can you take a dish directly from the oven and serve it straight away? I want to think about where things are coming from and going to.”
By designing a cistern with three different categories of water, Häberli encourages people to economize and think about how the vital resource can be re-used on a daily basis.
“Let’s imagine that we’d collect the water ourselves – what quality do we need to wash a lettuce that’s been freshly harvested? Can I still use the same water to clean my dirty boots afterward?”
Visitors to LivingKitchen will download a smartphone app to explore the virtual space and discover its innovations. “I want to think seriously about the future, because the latest products are not futuristic – they’re already here,” said Häberli. And his visionary designs might enter the realm of reality sooner than you expect: He’s already working with companies such as Samsung, Arwa and Schott Ceran to develop potential new products.