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How The Island Is Shaping The Kitchen Of The Future
Kitchen islands have been a popular feature for many years now, and they have become the indispensable social focal point of many homes — as much on fast-paced weekdays as on weekend mornings. Experts from Danish kitchen design firms JKE Design, Kvik Denmark and Multiform share three reasons why islands are so popular at the moment and discuss what the future holds.
“The island gives families with children the opportunity to combine cooking, homework and socializing, the latter being especially valuable,” says Lene Halse Hornemann, designer and owner of Multiform Design Center Copenhagen. “And for couples whose children have moved away from home, it’s the idea that one person can cook and the other can sit with a glass of wine on a bar stool by the island and enjoy the moment.”
“Twenty years ago, we broke down the walls between kitchen and living room in order to bring people together in the kitchen. Today, everyday life is busy and sometimes chaotic. More than ever, we need somewhere to be together, and the island often plays an important role in this. It’s where we can gather and concentrate on relationships, relax and talk. It is around the island that everyday life becomes surprising, and the weekend — magical,” Jørgensen says.
The social element will become more and more important, Helle Fyllgraf of JKE Design says. “Busy young people and families with children have so many individual activities going on, but it is around the island that they spend time together, talk and enjoy each other’s company.”
“The kitchen now often accommodates an armchair or a sofa, because it needs to be a room people enjoy spending time in,” Kjær says. “The kitchen has become the plaza of the house, and many visitors never even go beyond it.”
Yet Fyllgraf points out that functionality is also key to the island’s predominance. “Everyone who has enough space in their kitchen wants an island. It provides more countertop and storage space, and at the same time it can incorporate features like a sink and a stove. The extra space is especially helpful if you cook a lot.”
Kjær says an island with a sink, especially, allows for plenty of working space: “We stand at the sink approximately 90 percent of the time we spend in the kitchen, so it means a lot to have plenty of room on both sides of the sink.”
Here again the social aspect comes in: “The island has almost become a ‘dishwashing island,’ as we stand by the sink more than by the stove,” Hornemann says. “When the sink is located in the island, you can wash dishes and still be facing family, friends and guests.”
And this isn’t the only recent change. “Now that the appliance industry has come up with new downdraft stoves, you can cook your food out in the middle of the room without having to worry about damaging the ceiling and without overwhelming the counter with an extractor hood that would take up half the island,” Kjær says.
Another growing trend sees islands fulfilling more than just social or functional roles — aesthetics are becoming increasingly important. “In the future, we will see islands being made of different materials than the rest of the kitchen, so they will stand out as a design object, a beautiful icon of furniture design and quality,” Hornemann says. “The kitchen will change character and consist of more free-moving furniture of different materials and designs.”
“The island is becoming something that just stands in the room like a beautiful piece of furniture — no stove or sink, just a big island with a countertop, which makes sitting around it easier, as you don’t have to worry about getting splashed from the sink or frying pan,” Kjær says.
What does this tell us about the island of the future?
“The kitchen island will have a new and even more social function,” Fyllgraf says. “We will see several different versions of the island with more seating and more room for dining.”
Kjær agrees: “The island will be our social gathering point for years to come. We will, however, see more creative solutions — among other things, the integration of places to eat where you don’t necessarily sit in a row, but across from one other, so you can face one another.
“We still dream about conversation and togetherness in the kitchen,” Jørgensen says. “It’s no longer a physical wall we need to break down; rather, it’s the wall that all our digital devices create. We look forward to helping each other cook at the island, because this is where quality conversation takes place.”