The trend in modern kitchen design for the last decade or so has leaned toward a clean minimalist aesthetic, aiming to hide as much clutter as possible from view. Nearly all cookware, tableware and even appliances are rendered virtually invisible with the use of floor-to-ceiling cabinets, camouflaged refrigerator doors, storage islands and other disguises. The effect is undeniably orderly, but it can feel a tad institutional at times. Are we headed toward a backlash?
If the latest design by Dutch firm MVRDV is any indication, the answer to that question looks like a yes.
Making its debut at Kitchen Home Project, a satellite event at the 2016 Venice Biennale, ‘Infinity Kitchen‘ is an oversized kitchen island made entirely of transparent glass for an appearance that literally lets it all hang out—even the ugly back-ends of dishwashers and other appliances.
The modules contain drawers, shelving, cabinets, counters and faucets that call for transparency and clarity. Whether or not the overall effect is messy and chaotic is up to the end user and their habits around cleanliness and organization.
Inhabitants using the kitchen will be forced to constantly evaluate their food choices, say the designers, not to mention how well they stay on top of keeping their homes in order. One practical benefit would be instantly being able to see how much you currently have of any particular type of food, discouraging waste and potentially shaming you into choosing healthier items instead of junk your guests can clearly spot right through your cabinet doors.
“If we imagine everything is transparent clear and clean, doesn’t it mean that the only thing that is colorful and visible is our food?” says MVRDV co-founder Winy Maas. “I see this as part of a wider dream, this kitchen. It is part of an environment, if not a city, that is transparent and therefore accessible. Imagine if not only our kitchens were transparent, but the walls through to the neighbor and the next neighbor even. This would create infinite perspectives in our cities.”
With the design, MVRDV is also seeking to disrupt what they call the “generic” aesthetics of the kitchen industry while celebrating the culture of food and cooking. Instead of hiding “both the ugly and beautiful sides of food preparation,” the Infinity Kitchen exposes it all, providing a new insight into food production, storage, and the rituals that are carried out in these spaces every day. Individual elements are showcased, but not in a way that’s just showing off carefully selected items we consider visually pleasing.
The design firm envisions this theme spreading beyond the walls of the kitchen to entire houses and buildings, imagining the next step of our living conditions. MVRDV hopes to take the accepted norms of today and push past them toward newer, better solutions. The desire for transparency has already resulted in a project called ‘Crystal Houses’ in Amsterdam, a traditional facade made from glass, as well as an office with all glass interiors, furniture and equipment in Hong Kong.