TREND: The Wellness Kitchen
Making Healthy Choices Easy and Visible
The traditional kitchen invented in the 1950s is essentially a mausoleum to store “dead food.” Refrigerators and dark cupboards and pantries are designed to stockpile pre-packaged, processed, nonliving foods, hidden behind doors unseen and often forgotten for months or years. A serious disconnect between how more of us now eat (and want to eat) and that “unwell” dead-food-centered kitchen is why consumers are looking for new solutions.
Retailers have long known that if a shopper can’t see a product, he or she is less likely to buy it. And that simple logic extends to the food we choose to eat.
The new Wellness Kitchen, a term coined by architect Veronica Schreibeis Smith, describes a wide range of design decisions around food storage, preparation, cooking, consumption and disposal—all reengineered to cater to fresh food and living, organic ingredients. In a Wellness Kitchen, you can see crisp veggies and colorful fruits through your glass refrigerator door, rather than having them tucked away in an opaque crisper drawer. Fresh and living food is kept alive with open display concepts, beckoning eaters.
Or, even better, that produce is growing right there in your kitchen garden, turning your home into a vibrant ecosystem. With a Wellness Kitchen, the emphasis is always on keeping food alive—whether growing or dormant—and easy to access.
More people are growing their own food at home or in community gardens (35 percent of all households in America). The largest increase has been in younger households, up 63 percent to 13 million since 2008. Consumers need more options for climate-controlled storage of fresh foods with a range of temperatures and humidities that keep food well organized and visually tempting. Refrigeration in the ideal Wellness Kitchen features glass doors and shallow shelves for easy visibility, multiple compartments for optimal preservation conditions, and even hidden refrigeration compressors to cut down on noise pollution.
Forecasting The Future
The old eating and lifestyle habits of the 1950s are rapidly and thankfully becoming history. Today, more people than ever before understand the correlation between what we eat and preventable diseases like obesity and diabetes and recognize that eating nutrition-laden foods is the cornerstone of a long and healthy life. These informed consumers are willingly adopting a living, locally-sourced, fruit and vegetable-rich diet free of preservatives and chemicals.
This trend, however, is about more than just healthy eating. The Wellness Kitchen should also feed the mind and soul thanks to elegant, visually satisfying designs that encourage social interactions and environmentally friendly lifestyles.
Ultimately, the Wellness Kitchen of the future can mean many things to many people. For some it is a warm, communal space, full of light, fresh air, and the sounds of friendly conversation. For others, it is a temple to healthy eating, with living gardens, centrally displayed fresh food, and easy composting.
But, for all of us, it’s a testament to the idea that the most important room in our house should actually be a reflection of the food we want to eat and our core values. Kitchen design has a long way to go to make it “well,” but there are now exciting signs of innovation—and it will catch up.