A kitchen that comes to meet you - RSA

A kitchen that comes to meet you

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  • Design
  • Arts and society
  • Social innovation

Eat, Share, Live is an RSA Student Design Awards competition brief conceived to bring imaginative thinking to kitchens, specifically those in multigenerational households. Design entries needed to consider the oldest and youngest household members, wheelchair users and those with impaired eyesight and other physical and mental disabilities. The brief attracted record entries: 104 entries from 38 different courses at 40 universities in over 10 countries took part. Three equal winners were identified from a strikingly strong field, two presenting mobile furniture, the other an ingeniously simple hob backstop. 

Kitchen design is an emerging, hybrid discipline involving different types of business and skills. In the kitchen design degree course at Bucks New University we aim to bring these together and establish kitchen design as a true profession. Addressing needs that are unmet by standard kitchens is an important aspect of good quality kitchen design. Currently only a handful of companies provide products the 11 million plus people in the UK registered with a disability can use. Another large underserved group is the elderly. For demographic reasons there is a large and growing market providing for families composed of more than two generations. Statistics suggest around 60 million American and two million UK households live together across the generations, while one in three families consider combining forces to live under one roof.

Image of pan stop: a silicon edge to stop pans sliding

Credit: Tim Chapman, 2018 RSA Student Design Awards

Eat, Share, Live’s equal first prize was taken by Panstop, a silicone guide designed by Tim Chapman to prevent pans slipping off ceramic or induction hobs. The flexible shallow-curved ridge is inexpensive, firmly secured and brightly coloured. It would help any cook but is chiefly designed as a safety barrier for children and those with fine motor or eyesight problems. It has tremendous potential to be extended to other applications.

A rendering of Caroucel: kitchen units that revolve to save space

Credit: Nora Costello, 2018 RSA Student Design Awards

Nora Costello takes an equal first prize for Caroucel, a rotating storage system of cupboards on a wall-mounted track. Stretching up and bending down can be difficult for many people, especially wheelchair users. To help with this, Caroucel brings each cupboard to a perfect accessible position. It also gives each member of a multigenerational family their own personal storage space and has the possibility of adding fridges and ovens to its collection of units.

Images of The United Kitchen: space efficient circular kitchen units that fold away

Credit: Chung Hang Chiu, 2018 RSA Student Design Awards

The third equal winner is an entire compact kitchen. Technically ambitious, the United Kitchen designed by Chung Hang Chiu is transported flat and assembled without the need for power tools. It facilitates sociability in a small space or in a wider community-based location such as the scene of a disaster. For this purpose, its series of components include provision for an optional water tank.

Image of cooper metallic door handle with wide area for pushing with palm rather than gripping with fingers

Credit: Connor Musoke-Jones, 2018 RSA Student Design Awards

Another high-quality entrant is the Unity door handle by Connor Musoke-Jones. This metal lever for use with the flat of the hand or the arm removes all strain, pressure and need for manipulation in the process of opening a door. In an attractive organic shape with a copper or bronze finish, it is an aid primarily for arthritis sufferers or amputees. It is also a fine piece of design.

The judges deserve a mention. Helping us through agonising decision making, our chair Rhama Gheerawo produced succinct summaries. Professor Peter Gore’s original thinking on ageing was essential, likewise Amanda Hughes’ capacity to evaluate together seemingly incomparable projects. Adam Thomas’ personal experience with disability was invaluable and heart-warming; Thomas Laaf’s sheer pleasure in seeing the designs and Craig Condie’s seeking out of the essence of each project made the whole process one of serious but convivial debate. The whole experience demonstrated the power of design thinking in bringing the kitchen closer to our needs and desires.

And finally, a big thank you to all our sponsors.

See the Student Design Awards Winners’ Gallery for a full list of the 2018 winning and commended projects.

The Blog is written by kitchen designer and visiting professor of design, Johnny Grey

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  • This is what is called an actual innovation. What Caroucel ahs done is brilliant. And the united kitchen idea, even though as you've mentioned, it's ambitious, but it could totally work. Sheer brilliance. Kudos to RSA for bringing in such brilliance.

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