IKEA’s Future Kitchen Helps You Recycle, Teaches You to Cook
As precious natural resources dwindle and technology continues to advance, we as a species find ourselves at a curious crossroads. We have access to technology that can help us conserve those resources, yet too few of us actually take advantage of that technology. IKEA’s Concept Kitchen 2025 is based on the idea that in a decade, our homes will be so high-tech that the entire kitchen will present myriad opportunities for earth-friendly living.
The centerpiece of the concept is the Table of Living. The smart table acts not only as an eating surface, but as a stove, preparation area (complete with kitchen scale), children’s play area, and even a responsive and interactive virtual cookbook. A projector is supported above the table surface to project graphics and cooking instructions.
The system is designed to recognize the ingredients you place on the table, then provide helpful suggestions. Place a mango and cutting board on the table and the projector will give you instructions and diagrams for cutting it into bite-size pieces. Two ingredients placed near each other on the table will prompt the smart table to bring up a list of recipes containing those ingredients.
If you would prefer to use a cookbook as your recipe source, you would have only to place it on the table with the desired recipe showing. The projector outlines spots for you to place each ingredient and cooking implement. A smart scale built into the table would make fiddly measuring spoons and cups obsolete; the cook can just add the selected ingredient to a bowl on the table until the table indicates that enough has been added.
After the ingredients are assembled, the projector highlights the table’s induction cooking surface. Simply move the pots onto the burners to cook your high-tech meal. Keeping all of the meal preparation activities on one surface means that the kitchen will need fewer countertops – and the cook won’t have to run back and forth between stove, counter, and fridge.
As amazing as the Table of Living is, it only represents the high-tech part of the future kitchen. Resource conservation is the highlight of the rest of the kitchen design. A tilting sink allows you to reuse a basin full of greywater for your dishwasher if you tip it one way; tip it the other way and too-dirty water is directed to the sewage system. The sink also composts organic waste in a small chamber below the basin, producing solid compost for use in the garden.
IKEA’s vision of the future fridge is a pretty radical one. Instead of a cooled box with doors, the conceptual kitchen includes a series of open shelves that cool your food with energy-efficient induction cooling. The idea is to encourage the use of fresh ingredients rather than buying a ton of produce and letting it turn into a moldy mess in the back of the fridge.
The futuristic kitchen also encourages (or forces?) users to recycle. A series of color-coded receptacles takes your refuse, identifies its materials, and either sends it off for recycling or vacuum packs it for the landfill. The designers propose that every household would receive either a credit or a debit on their garbage collection bill which would reflect how much household waste was recycled rather than thrown out.