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19 October 2017

THE NEW PRINCIPLES OF KITCHEN DESIGN,

I have been designing kitchens for over 30 years and like most of my peers, associates, and contemporaries, I have followed religiously the holy tenets of our faith…the un-questioned “work-triangle”, that was until I met a holy-man from a faraway land called Michigan. Hewas on a pilgrimage to share his vision of how things should work and a set of principles to live by.

It is truly hard to believe that we are still designing kitchens based on an idea born out of the “rational” movement of the 1900’s. The work-tri-angle was created to maximize the efficiency and eliminate unneeded steps and movements in the preparation and cooking of the daily meals, thus allowing the woman of the house to free up her valuable time for more important tasks like cleaning, laundry, and childcare.

This once private domain of the feminine world has now given way to a new social order and reflects the world that we live in. Today we find a more “democratized” environment, where everyone is welcomed in the kitchen, a place where family, friends, and guests are invited, if not encouraged, to participate in the ritual of preparation.

And with this increased activity and additional bodies, all in a high-traffic ballet of fire, boiling water and sharp pointy things, we find that the assembly-line kitchen of the past century, with its uniform horizon of sink, dishwasher, cook-top, oven and refrigerator, forever locked in its limited one-person “work-triangle”, must make way to a new way of thinking.

The pilgrim I speak of is industry thought-leader, designer, and manufacturer, Pete Walker. His evolutionary or maybe more correct, revolutionary concept is called the “Proximity Principles©”. According to Pete’s first principle, “A kitchen should be arranged around a series of task-based work centers in relative proximity to each other and in proper sequence relative to tasks as they actually occur in the art of cookery”.

According to Pete, the Principles dictate the adaptation of the site conditions to various task-appropriate layouts and the results of their use are uniformly functional. As is true of any situation, site and structural issues and the constraints of budget will impact the final result. In other words, no matter the size, shape or budget of the kitchen, the Principles always improve the use of whatever space is available.

To further his beliefs, Pete has created a line of eco-centric kitchens that embody his philosophy; the Proximity Kitchen System™ eliminates the vast number of unnecessary options, elements, and configurations currently found in both domestic and imported mass-manufactured kitchen product lines. His streamlined collection leaves the designer with an elegant intersection of minimalist product and maximizes achievable function.

A kitchen based on the “Principles” is therefore no longer skewed by geometric happenstance; the obsolete “work triangle”, but, based on a set of irreducible “first principles”. These principles organize a clear set of design techniques and protocols which create space that allows an individual to move gracefully through a kitchen where everything comes easily to hand as it is needed or as Pete would say, “Life within reach”.

Like any movement or belief out of the norm, Pete and his “Principles” has its share of nay-sayers and distracters, but there seems to be an ever-growing legion of architects, interior designers and kitchen specialist, who call themselves “Proxies”, that have embraced this new thought in both mind and heart as well as action in the practice of their trade.

If you would like to know more about Pete and the Principles or would like additional information regarding the Proximity Kitchen System, I would encourage you to visit www.proximitykitchen.com

23 August 2017

FOR THE LOVE OF COOKING

I love to cook!  Actually I enjoy the process of cooking, the preparation, selecting the ingredients, laying out my tools, cooking my meal and then to finally serve it to my family and guests. As with most chefs, professional or amateur, I nibble my way throughout the undertaking and have little room to actually sit and eat with my guests, but to sit and talk, to eat and drink and just commune with one another is its own reward.

I am glad to say that there has been a renascence in kitchen design over the last few years, maybe it’s because of the current economic times we live in and people are staying home more and eating meals around the family table has once more taken center stage. What has changed, or maybe a better word would be, evolved, has been the democratization of the family kitchen. This once private domain of the feminine world has now given way to a new social order that reflects the world that we live in. Everyone is welcomed, if not expected to participate in the ritual of preparation.

And with this increased activity and additional bodies in a high-traffic ballet of fire, boiling water and sharp pointy things…we find that the assembly-line kitchen of the past, with its uniform horizon of sink, dishwasher, cook-top, oven and refrigerator, forever locked in its limited one-person “work-triangle”, must now give way to a new way of thinking.

Appliances once dictated the form and flow of the kitchen, today they have all been replaced by the individual or individuals and the task and then the appliances and the space needed to fulfill the task. With a variety of people and activities in this enclosed environment, we must create a fluid, interactive, multi-functional arena, where tools and materials are close at hand and within a given task boundary.

Much like selling toilet paper, the primary use of the product is seldom addressed. The same has gone for modern kitchen design. Over the past several years, the collective thought of modern kitchen design was to create the “illusion of order”. This was accomplished by hiding the true function of the kitchen. By hiding the food, the waste and the appliances, we create the illusion of productivity and efficiency by hiding the process.

With cooking returned to the primary function, the kitchen must be efficient to be productive, an environment conducive to the task at hand. To this end we have reached out to the commercial kitchen to better understand the true meaning of efficiency, a world that clearly defines the boundaries of form and function and where the poetry of chaos is the rule of order. The commercial kitchen is designed around a menagerie of players, each with a task or goal to fulfill, all working independently, all working to the same conclusion and all working in perfect harmony.


Kevin M HenryⒸ2017
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