Whenever you see a person in a movie struggle to survive in a very small apartment where the kitchen, bedroom, and living room are all in the same small space, it’s perceived as comical. But if it’s you or a close friend living in a microapartment, that humor quickly dissipates. Despite the fact that the price of rent keeps climbing as the size of apartments continues to dwindle, there’s new hope for coping in the form of this all-in-one kitchenette, which you can easily tote wherever you go.
The Mother of Invention
Yu Li, the inventor of the kitchen-in-a-case called “Assembly” and a graduate of the Royal College of Art, was inspired by the quandary of a friend who had lived in an urban industrial space for several years. Since there was no kitchen in his makeshift apartment, he survived on a portable inductive cooktop and a utility sink mounted on a cart for cleanup. Li’s heart went out to him, and as she actively helped him move into a fancier place with a proper stove and sink, her mind started churning out solutions for all the other appliance-challenged renters out there.
Li started by listing out the bare necessities of cooking, dining, and after-meal cleanup. Each component had to be portable, small, and lightweight — not to mention effortlessly capable of being returned to the main carrying case to be stowed out of sight in a closet or cabinet.
“The idea is to trim the original kitchen space down to a few minimal elements so space can be designed simpler, neater, and transformed into other purposes to increase the space utilization,” said Li.
The kitchenette’s inductive cooktop had to be ultra-thin to allow other components to fit in the carrying case too. The cooktop itself features an ignition switch, temperature controls, and a timer. Also included in the case are one stainless steel pot, one shallow stainless steel pan, a serving plate, eating utensils, and a dish drying rack. Pulling double-duty are the serving plate, which also houses a wooden cutting board, and panhandle, which can easily be transformed into a pair of serving tongs. You may have to wash the dishes and pans in an actual kitchen sink, but at least you have the luxury of a drying rack. The entire set is bright white with a cherry red trim, and that includes the coated cookware.
Of course, Li’s design is perfect for lots of other scenarios, too. You may have a kitchen, but if you also have multiple roommates utilizing it, you’ll be thankful to have an Assembly on hand. Don’t care for balancing campfire cookware on disintegrating hot coals at dusk whenever you want to eat in the great outdoors? Just set up your Assembly and carry on. Even a solo trip to the beach can include a delightful meal as long as you have a few ingredients, a bottle of wine, and Assembly at your side.
With any luck, Li’s design will inspire other innovations in the kitchen and help make cooking in absurdly small spaces both feasible and fun. Some culinary experts even see Assembly as a boon to preparing and consuming healthier meals, since it’ll allow so many people to stop relying on fast food and take-out.