For her final master's thesis project in experimental design at the Istituto Europeo di Design (IED) in Madrid, designer and architect Ana Arana decided to build a kitchen for single-occupancy apartments. As in most kitchens, Arana's design has a kitchen table, a kitchen sink, a refrigerator, cabinets, and a stove. Unlike most kitchens, hers can be packed into a 2-foot-by-2-foot-by-3-foot piece of furniture and stashed away in the corner when not in use.
Arana's kitchen is called Gali, and it's her solution not only to the small spaces of most single occupancy apartments, but also to a changing approach toward preparing and consuming food. "I interviewed a lot of people living alone and asked where they cooked and how they ate and how long it took from cleaning to cooking to serving," says Arana, who graduated from IED last year and now works at an architecture firm in Madrid. "The main thing for them is to not waste time—if they were chopping vegetables, they wanted to be able to throw away the scraps directly. If someone was over, they wanted to be able to cook nearby. It was all about efficiency."
To start out, Arana looked into other small kitchen designs. She took inspiration from Ronan Bouroullec's 1998 modular kitchen system that allowed owners to customize it themselves—adding drawers, shelves and hooks—then disassemble it and take with them when they moved. An even more direct lineage is Italian industrial designer Joe Colombo's 1963 Minikitchen, whose compact shape and fold-out function is echoed in Arana's design.
A perfect rectangle when not in use, the Gali has a wooden plank on the side that folds down into a table and a sink on top with a detachable faucet. On the other side, a stove top rolls out like a drawer, and there's a place for a microwave or a toaster oven below (due to some people's aversion to microwaves, Arana left that compartment for consumers to fill themselves). A door in the front opens to a mini fridge while kitchen handle-less drawers for pots, pans and utensils pop open when pushed in.
Here's the kitchen in action:
Arana says after interviewing people who live alone, she felt that if a kitchen isn't being used every day, there's no reason residents should always have to see it. With Gali, she has updated the retro-futuristic ideas of designers like Colombo who were radically rethinking space, efficiency, and mobility. While the kitchen system only exists as a prototype right now, Arana was in New York this week for the International Contemporary Furniture Fair, invited through a design competition sponsored by Bernhardt. She's searching for a manufacturer to produce the Gali kitchen system.