April 1, 2012
Cooking for Urban Nomads
Kilian Schindler’s Concept Kitchen is modular, utilitarian, and a little funky.
On Tuesday, your new cooking area could have a sink where the cutting block was on Monday. The Concept Kitchen comes in pieces and parts. Legs, shelving, and joints are all movable and removable, making it easy to generate many different counter-space and storage combinations. It’s an extreme idea for food preparation, one that wouldn’t make sense in a sprawling suburban dwelling. This kitchen, produced by the German manufacturer Naber, is for a more daring urbanite—one without square footage to spare.
“Kitchen as organism” is how the designer Kilian Schindler describes his concept. “The brief was to develop a modular space for young, nomadic city people, who are familiar with moving often,” he says. “It’s for someone who is modern and rational, with an awareness of functionality. They also need to have an appreciation for raw and technical—yet stylish—details.” This isn’t a particularly pretty or pristine apparatus. The Concept Kitchen is a bare-bones approach to do-it-yourself cooking, and the un-designed feel is appropriate, given the project’s common-sense objective. It’s meant to just get the job done, whatever that job that may be.
Because Schindler is new to the world of kitchen design, his process began with research. He found inspiration in the influential Frankfurt Kitchen, designed by the architect Margarete Schütte-Lihotzky in 1926. Like the Concept Kitchen, the Frankfurt plan was novel for its time in that it prioritized necessity over accessory. “I really admired how brave it was, and I wanted to push my concept in a similar way,” Schindler says. The early-century layout was small and narrow, but it was perfectly utilitarian, and most importantly, it was affordable. And for Schindler, low cost and high quality were paramount. “The most cost-effective way to realize this project was to design parameters that switched as little as possible. I started with sketches, then small paper models, and then made real-size models. Once I found the appropriate system, I worked closely with an ambitious manufacturer and capable product engineers. In short, form follows function, and follows cost-effective realization.”
But can this functional new design survive actual cooking? To be fair, it isn’t pitched to chefs or soccer moms, but to space-conscious city roamers with adventuresome living arrangements. When there’s a meal to be made with this system, the resulting fare is likely to match the temperament of the person preparing it. The Concept Kitchen is for the nonconformist.