IKEA showed off their Concept Kitchen 2025 at Milan Design Week and unveiled their predictions for the kitchen of the future which includes connected devices designed to make cooking easier. The Concept Kitchen 2025 includes a compost system, open fridge and the centerpiece of the design, IKEA’s Table For Living.
IKEA collaborated with the IDEO design firm, Sweden’s Lund University and the Netherland’s Einhoven University of Technology in order to build prototypes for the kitchen. In IKEA’s vision of 2025, shopping is delivered by drones, rubbish that isn’t able to be recycled is fined by the kilogram and food prices have been increased by 40%. The kitchen had been in development for 18 months and the findings from this prototype project will help to inform IKEA’s future products.
The Table For Living takes kitchen tech to a whole new level and is able to recognise foods placed onto it using a camera equipped projector. It then projects recipes onto the table top based on the food items and the amount of time the user has to spare. The table aims to help users learn to cook as it can also weigh items in order to get the correct amounts for recipes and can show users how to properly cut and prepare each item. IKEA described this as ‘Casual Technology’- technology that provides help when needed but is otherwise hidden from view. The Table For Living also includes a built in induction hob which removes the need for a separate cooker or stove.
As IKEA predicts drones will quickly deliver our grocery shopping, we’ll need to store less food but the food will be higher in quality. The refrigerator shown as part of Concept Kitchen 2025 is a modern pantry that doesn’t hide food like a normal fridge but instead reminds us to be mindful of our food so that we won’t waste so much of it. The wooden shelves of the pantry contain sensors and induction coolers that are hidden from view, allowing foods to be chilled to the perfect temperature while being in easy reach. Modular storage containers will protect food under double walled glass cloches and make use of magnetic steel-gadolinium bases that allow the food to be wirelessly cooled and then heated when placed on the Table For Living’s induction hob. These containers will also be able to read RFID stickers from the food item’s packaging to cool the food to the proper temperature. This is Casual Technology at work again- it’s unobtrusive but aware, helping to make life easier without us having to program and control it.
IKEA has also considered how we’ll dispose of waste as well as recycle and reuse more in order to avoid the charges enforced by cities. The compost system built into the sink blends and compresses organic waste to form dry odourless pucks that can be stacked and picked up by the council (or presumably used in one’s garden). The waste water is also collected as it contains nutrients that would be beneficial to houseplants. The Concept Kitchen has answers for non-organic waste too which will be separated by the user then crushed, scanned to identify the material its made of and also to check for contamination. The crushed waste is then sealed into a vacuum packed bio-polymer tube which is marked with a thermal printed label to record the tube’s contents and possible future uses for the waste. IKEA also predicts that we may potentially receive energy credits or debits based on our waste creation.
Finally, IKEA’s kitchen of the future also makes predictions for how we’ll be using and re-using water by 2025. The sink has two plug holes and a pivoting mechanism- pivot to the right for ‘grey water’ that can be reused for washing up and plants, and tip to the left for ‘black water’ that is contaminated and will be sent to the sewage system.
While the type of products featured in IKEA’s kitchen will not be available or affordable to purchase for quite some time, IKEA will be using the findings from the prototypes to inform their new products in the future as our relationship with food and waste changes.