Have you ever thought about what your kitchen will look like around 2030? If not, experts have a tip: it will be automated and focused on helping you cook your dinner, but not full of mind-boggling devices that would resemble the 1960s Jetsons.
In a nutshell: it will be about solving everyday problems. “Cooking became stressful for many people because they have to shop, to understand the food, and you don’t learn it as a kid anymore as probably some of us did,” said Kai Schaeffner, Executive Vision and Innovation at Vorwerk, a German household appliance manufacturer. He spoke during a panel about the future of the kitchen at CES 2022.
According to him, the smart kitchen industry can help consumers to take control over what they are eating, including people who have dietary restrictions, want to live a healthier life or just can’t afford the time to cook.
“The smart kitchen industry can make a big step forward to take this effort away and make food so simple [that in the meantime you can] do other things – you can spend time with your kids while you prepare the risotto.”
The Thermomix, one of the products on Vorwerk’s portfolio, aims to do just that. Besides being a multicooker, the machine teaches the user how to cook a given recipe, step-by-step, trying to make life in the kitchen easier for non-chefs.
Education, by the way, seems to be a trend in the kitchen conversation. More than just automating the processes, a fundamental step is making the devices accessible and guiding consumers so that they understand how to use the technology in their own favour.
“For a lot of reasons – the way we grow up, how [the kitchen] is tied to family and mothers, people are very resistant to adopt new technologies in the kitchen,” Robin Liss, CEO of Suvie, explained during the panel. “The way that we’ve found we can break through is by educating people through editorial and content.”
Liss is no strange to content. Prior to creating Suvie, a smart kitchen appliance, she founded a website focused on product reviews and deals.
“People go on our user group, they see how to use recipes, they work with our kitchen staff, [there are] guided recipes, even a print magazine. And that’s there to just help teach them how to use the technology; if you send somebody some new tech but they don’t know how to use it, they’re just going to sit on their countertop and gather dust,” she observed.
“Our thesis is that the mainstream consumer looks at cooking as a chore, not really something that they enjoy and want to do,” Khalid Aboujassoum, Founder and CEO at Else Labs added. “You can think of the whole ecosystem from editorial content and how that can help, address discovering recipes, personalising recipes through nutrition or reflecting on what is your intake and how you are processing the food.”
A Kitchen Which Is Not A Kitchen
While we imagine how easy it could be to cook in the future, experts argue that maybe there won’t be a specific place to call a kitchen, at least not in highly populated cities where space is a pricey commodity.
According to an LABC Warranty research published in 2018, space dedicated to the kitchens in British homes has decreased 13% since the 1960s. In Japan, the high need for homes made studio apartments shrink to 20 square metres (215 sq. ft.). In these places, the kitchen might be on the razor’s edge.
“I certainly think that’s a possibility. But even more important is that it will become the person’s choice,” Liss said. “For some consumers, they might have no kitchen, they don’t find any joy in the art of meal preparation. But then for people who do, maybe they use a combination of different appliances.”
Another important aspect, according to Liss, is that in the United States women are still spending a great amount of time cooking for the family. “The average American woman spends about two hours a day in the kitchen, [hours that] she’s not sleeping or driving or working. So letting people who want to spend that time with their families or doing other hobbies is what all this automation is about.”