I think I'm fortunate to have a fair amount of diversity in my extended family. As I end my trip to Copenhagen, it occurs to me just how important it is to design kitchens suited to the needs of the users. In my own extended family, I have these diverse personal situations, all of whom work in their kitchens in different ways for different reasons.
- Daughter/son-in-law in an apartment in an urban setting, concerned with healthy living and healthy cooking, with demanding jobs, and then, early evening, exercise routines, speed and efficiency in the kitchen being the goal, and leisurely cooking as recreation,
- Son, 21, and girlfriend, moving in together soon, who both cook up a storm nearly every night, with a health conscious and multi cultural focus due to their different cultural/ethnic backgrounds and green philosophies, (without a time concern, as I can attest to, having a recent meal with them at nearly 11 pm)
- A cousin and her (yes, her) wife (legally married in Denmark) who are expecting twins sons soon, sharing domestic responsibilities, as all married couples do, in a countryside setting by the sea, with one spouse working, the other not,
- My 93 year old uncle, living alone, preparing traditional Danish meals and also hosting weekly get togethers at his apartment, the apartment he has had for, oh, maybe 60 years or so,
- Another cousin and her husband, empty nesters, and retired, moving back and forth between an urban apartment and summer house in Denmark, with interesting food storage issues to solve,
- Another cousin's busy working life with two young children and a husband (the traditional "subjects" for all previously held kitchen design ideas) with the woman's mother as frequent helper and occasional chef,
- A recently widowed aunt, who lived a long life, preparing from-scratch meals for two, now, for one,
- A male cousin, single, 30s, in a new urban apartment, with a new kitchen, planning his kitchen HIS way,
- A male, 22, single, student, who owns an apartment and lives with rent paying roomates, but plans to live there a long time, later with a girlfriend, and just planning a kitchen now,
- Me and my husband, nearly empty nesters, soon to be spending more time in our city apartment, redefining "home" as well as our cooking habits.
Designers need to understand that there is no longer one family "model," but many, and oftentimes multi-cultural, multi-generational, perhaps a non traditional lifestyle, and sometimes all of these mixed together. It is imperative that each personal situation be dissected to uncover the needs for function and aesthetics which are unique to he/she/them alone. I do believe the time has arrived where both homeowners and designers are understanding the wide realm of new design possibilities that can be tailored to one's unique way of living in the kitchen.
Are you planning a kitchen? Look more deeply into your/your family's personal needs. Take time to do that. Don't settle for standard, typical, or one size fits all. Ask for , look for, plan for, personal design solutions.
Vive la difference!