There always seem to be two potential futures: In one, we have Marty McFly flying around on hoverboards like everything’s wonderful. In the other, we have Katniss Everdeen slitting throats for the world’s last Manwich. Which one will it be?
Ikea imagines that in the year 2025, our kitchen will live somewhere between dystopia and utopia. In a collaboration with Ideo and students at Lund University, and the Eindhoven University of Technology, Ikea presented a kitchen of the future.
A Smart, All-in-One Table and Cooktop
Its pièce de résistance is a glowing communal table, called the Table of Living, that uses a smart projector to apply glowing graphics in real time to interact with anything from children’s toys to farmer’s market produce. It’s a similar concept to what we’ve seen from Berg, Frog, Microsoft, and independent designers before. But here, the smart kitchen table is just very, well imagined.
Lay down a tomato, and it will recognize the tomato, suggesting items you might pair with it. Lay down a bowl of mozzarella nearby, and the table will suggest basil might bring the two flavors together. Nest the tomato directly next to the mozzarella, and suggested recipes will pop up. Then when you pull out a cutting board, lines will appear on the tomato, guiding you how to dice.
Or you could start with a recipe instead. Lay a recipe book on the table, and the projector maps out your mise en place, with spots for each ingredient you need. A scale would be built into the table, allowing you to ditch teaspoons and cups, and just pour whatever you needed to into a bowl until the table said stop. And when you’re ready to cook, the projector would reveal an induction burner for you to place the pan. It’s a space-efficient, computer-assisted way to cook.
So that’s the Marty McFly side of the kitchen.
Katniss Everdeen shows up and reminds the domestic world that droughts, food scarcity, and endless piles of garbage are coming for us.
The Greywater Composting Sink
Ikea imagines a pivoting sink that allows you to use murky-but-okay greywater for your dishwasher. A tip to the left, and the greywater is fed to your dishwahser. A tip to the right, and the water is disposed into the sewage system instead. (So far, it’s an idea that’s extremely similar to a concept by Ahhaproject.) The sink also feeds organic solids to a tank below, where it composts them into soil pucks that you can use in your own home garden.
Meanwhile, a color-coded trash system allows you to recycle more efficiently. While we often send the wrong types of plastics, or non-recyclable, greasy paper to a recycling center, their system scans every material you drop in, sorts it, vacuum packs it, and labels it for the recycling center. And just in case that doesn’t sound dystopian enough to you, Ikea proposes you get a credit, or a bill, depending on how wasteful you’ve been.
An Open Fridge
Finally, one of the best ideas on the list may circle right back to what Ikea does best: shelving. It’s a set of open shelves where you store your food, rather than a fridge. The shelves offer induction cooling. And by placing our produce in our field of view, rather than squirreling it away in a fridge, we’re more likely to eat it before it spoils.
Read seven more of Ikea’s thoughts on the future of design here.