Kitchen Design - The Work Triangle (then and now)

You've all heard of the work triange in regard to kitchen design. There is so much to discuss regarding kitchen design, and I've already discussed many topics on this blog, but have not yet touched on this most well known of topics, the work triangle.

I've recently been asked some questions by an editor about the work triangle for future publication in a shelter magazine, so it got me thinking. I'll tell you my thoughts on this topic. And, I'll try very, very hard to keep it interesting!

That Was Then

In the old days, oh, up to as recently as 5 years back, kitchen design was straight forward. The work triangle served the vast majority of America very well for decades! Why? Because our choices were limited. The key ingredient in keeping kitchen design on the straight and narrow, in my mind, was standard(ized) appliances. A societal component contributed to kitchen design maintaining the status quo as well...that is, the singular definition of "what is a family?" There was really only ONE definition, as we know.

This Is Now

All of a sudden (past five years) we have so many different appliances which have come on the scene, to serve an increasingly higher level of detailed purposes and lifestyles. Thus, we have many more choices to create the optimum lifestyle scenario within the kitchen environment.

We have also evolved into acknowledging, seeking to fine tune, and to celebrate our cultural needs and differences in regard to HOW one wants and needs to work in the kitchen. This includes considering who else is working in the kitchen, what their choice activities are, and what else goes on in the kitchen besides cooking, which is becoming a big issue. What's happening NOW is that more non-kitchen activities are taking place in the kitchen, such as computer work, big screen tv watching, lounging, and more space needed for congregating in the kitchen in general, which is actively competing with cooking space! The challenge is to look at what will make YOUR kitchen work best, discarding any sort of standard design or recipe for "perceived" efficiency. It's all good, and it's about time!

work%20stations%202%20copy.jpgUm, OK, Great, And The Kitchen Triangle Today? 

Is there still a kitchen triangle in kitchen design today? Mostly, YES! When we consider the three elements which still remain important for most of us to access quickly and easily...the refrigerator, the sink area and the cooking area, yes, sure, those "stations" remain critical to preparing a meal and are often seen in uninterrupted paths, as I have observed in recent years. That said, we are also now increasingly seeing the triangle expanded, broken, shifted, moved, and otherwise changed, to accommodate new, specific, lifestyle needs, based on the evolution noted above in regard to appliances and societal shifts.

For example, if the husband cooks and the wife preps, the cooktop may be far removed from the sink area, which is now designated more of a clean up area than a main prep area. Perhaps, then, the wife preps on the island, removed from the clean up area. Or, as is the case in a current kitchen design I am involved in, we need a separate "breakfast" prep station, where the husband mixes up smoothies, makes coffee, and other foods with the help of small appliances, thus, creating a "small appliance" work station, separate from both the cooking and sink/clean up section. An area where he can spread out and do whatever he's got to do in ample space.

Another client needs a separate "coffee station" where he can do his one special task away from the traffic flow. Still another client will need a special prep area for use of prepping foods for the steam or small high speed oven for their healthy eating lifestyle. A Kosher kitchen design I am currently involved in has so many specialty work areas included, I can't count them all! Highly specific, highly functional, highly efficient.

The bottom line in today's new kitchen seems to be it's all about US (one's family), not "me," with multiple stations designed for specific needs and/or desires. Again, it's all good.

I'll talk much more about kitchen design in general and today's new kitchen in future blog posts. This was an overview to get you thinking and planning! 


Posted on July 17, 2007 and filed under Kitchen Design.